The Gilded Stage is a comprehensive tour of the world of opera. From its origins in the courts of northern Italy, to its internationally recognised position in modern culture, Snowman explores the social history of opera houses and impresarios, composers and patrons, artists and audiences. Even the most flamboyant composers could scarcely have imagined the global reach of opera in our own times. More opera is performed, financed, seen, heard, filmed and broadcast than ever before, and the world's leading performers are worshipped and paid like pop stars. Yet the art form is widely derided as 'elitist' and parts of the classical recording business appear close to bankruptcy. Pinpointing the scandals, forgotten history and key revolutions in the form with light erudition and a brilliant anecdotal eye, Daniel Snowman reveals that the world of opera has always known crisis and uncertainty - and the resulting struggles have often proved every bit as dramatic as those portrayed onstage.