Exposing the ""complex machine"" behind the spectacle of opera, a medium that has become ""more business than art,"" the author contrasts opera's past flamboyance with its present gray flannel suited moderation. Agreeing with Verdi that to look back to old times would be a step forward, the author deplores what she calls ""monstropera,"" a dehumanized, bourgeois, big business mutant. In today's opera world, she laments, the stars are ""icebergs,"" more commodity than artists, subservient to the new power of the director, well-mannered instead of temperamental, cold singers playing to a just-as-cold public. Save for Menotti, modern composers fare badly in her critique, and the grotesque prima donnas of former generations enjoy a revival as examples of savoir vivre. Her romantic bias, however, does not mar the book's worth as a knowledgeable handbook of the opera business. From a roster of ""who's who"" in opera to an assessment of the major opera companies of the Western world, she manages to be lively, and includes anecdotes as well as hard facts. One might say it has everything but the music (cf. Olga Maynard's Enjoying Opera, p. 609).