Adelina Patti was the most highly regarded singer in history. She earned nearly $5,000 a night and had her own railway carriage. Yet a minor comic singer would perform for the cost of his food and a pair of shoes to wear on stage. John Rosselli's wide-ranging study introduces all those singers, members of the chorus as well as stars, who have sung Italian opera from 1600 to the twentieth century. Singers are shown slowly emancipating themselves from dependence on great patrons and entering the dangerous freedom of the market. Rosselli also examines the sexist prejudices against the castrati of the eighteenth century and against women singers. Securely rooted in painstaking scholarship and sprinkled with amusing anecdote, this is a book to fascinate and inform opera fans at all levels.