This book is an account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with the author's personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances, and suffused with his passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, the author brings to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our favorite operas. The book begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. It then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations between opera scholars, opera conductors, and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, the author also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design. Throughout this work, the text enlivens a personal history with reports personal own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro.