I read this book quite a while ago but I really enjoyed it!! I found Patchett's style of prose very poetic and it just amazed me how well she was able to incorporate the musical aspect of the book into the form of the writing, I thought it provided for an all-encompassing experience for the reader. I've also read her other novel, Run, which is a good read as well but Bel Canto is much better.
I agree about the musical aspect, I have to say I know nothing at all about opera but now have this real urge to to some serious research. I recently read An Equal Music by Vikram Set which has has a strong musical element that I really enjoyed.
I haven't read any other Ann Patchett books, would you recommend Run?