Emperors of Song: Three Great Impresarios by F.M. Stockdale
In the age of Verdi and Puccini, Wagner and Richard Strauss, opera in Britain and the USA was almost exclusively the preserve of individual private businessmen - the impresarios - who made (and lost) fortunes by personally employing the great stars of the day. Concentrating on the period 1860-1939, this book looks at the successes and disasters of such impresarios as "Colonel" James Mapleson, grandest and then most unlucky of showmen; and John Christie, whose love for his wife led to his building the largest private opera house since Bayreuth. Patti and Melba, Caruso and Tetrazzini - the legendary super-egos with jewels, parrots, castles and private investment accounts at Rothschilds - were the raw material these enterprising men tried to turn to gold.