Venice, 1734. Neglecting his vocal practice for dubious pleasures, singer Tito Amato finds himself demoted to secondary roles and overshadowed by a visiting star. When the murder of scene painter Luca Cavalieri threatens to close the opera house, Tito jumps at the chance to regain his worth by finding the killer.
Suspicion falls on members of a Jewish ghetto family that produces masks for the theater. But Tito discovers a mysterious veil that leads him in a different direction. Assisted by Augustus Rumbolt, an Englishman making his Grand Tour, Tito is soon on the trail of Dr. Palantinus, a masked figure who heads a secret society that charges exorbitant fees to partake of its enticing rituals.
But who is behind the mask of Palantinus? Tito's search for the answer pierces the treacherous depths of a city dedicated to masquerade and pleasure, where ancient hatreds thrive, cultures uneasily coexist, and where opera is the stuff of daily life.