Looking at four very different opera houses, this book tells the tales of the eccentric talents that made them immortal. An entertaining history of the four big opera houses - Milan, Vienna, the New York Met and Covent Garden - that illuminates major developments in opera both musically and in terms of stage interpretation. From the post-war reconstruction of opera houses to the influence of colourful personalities such as Karajan and Visconti, Callas as media-devil-cum-idol, Solti, Domingo, Pavarotti, Price and Sutherland, and finally the wide accessibility and popularity of opera today and the increasing financial pressures it faces. Susan Gilbert introduces enthralling personalities, and through them the scandals, the money, the media skirmishes and the drama that provide fascinating insights into the world of opera behind the scenes. Through the characters of the drama - the singers, conductors, directors and managers - Susan Gilbert captures that larger-than-life quality of the opera that has provided so many people with a sense of wonder and joy over the years.