This is a magnificent book that really gets to grips with the subject of Italian opera. Kimbell’s grasp of his subject is astonishing, and it’s a hell of a good story. Opera comes from Italy, it was born there, and for two centuries, virtually every opera singer in the world was Italian. The story of how it started is a bit clouded in uncertainty, they’re not quite sure what happened when to create this extraordinary art form, but it developed from people reciting the Italian language in a way that enhanced its melodic quality. And then gradually this enhanced speech turned into tunes, and the tunes turned into arias over a span of about 150 years.