Opera should be an easy target for ""an irreverent appreciation."" Fatuous rivalries, sheer silliness, and displays of temperament--not to say hysterics--abound. Groover and Conner fish out some great stories, only to sink them under a lot of poorly organized material and forced humor. The book sets a bad precedent by beginning with a chapter on ""How to Build a Chinese Opera House."" The authors make a nice point: Oriental opera predates Western opera, and continues to be a viable, popular art form. So far, so good. They then supply an eight-part ""blueprint"" for creating your own version. For example: ""Buy stacking metal chairs. The cheaper the better. Remember this is a Chinese theater. Think take-out."" One bit of information is eked out by jokes; and, page after page, this ""fun"" never stops. Conversely, they miss opportunities to send up some silly superstitions. ""La Fenice also has the peculiar tradition of sending a cat down the aisle before each performance begins."" Why? How? Whose cat? When did it start? We'll never know because the next sentence in the same paragraph is about London's Drury Lane theater, and introduces a ghost story. There is no efficient way to read this book. The authors string you along with tempting themes or chapter titles (""What the Maestros Said About Each Other,"" ""Opera's Greatest Duds""), then fail to deliver. If you want to get to the good stuff, you have to look hard. Bright ideas and good research ruined by poor organization and bad puns.