I wanted to enjoy this biography of superstar basso Luigi Lablache (written by a descendant), but the horrible writing and sloppy proofreading made that impossible. The author's approach is "and Then He Sang...." followed by long newspaper reviews of how great each performance was. You want letters? There are lots of long letters. It's basically a cut-and-paste job. 534 pages of main text followed by detailed appendices that are more interesting than the error-ridden text.
Errors? Rossini's "Matilda di Shabran" is credited to Donizetti. (p. 246) She thinks Rachel (of "La Juive") is a character in "Le Prophete." (p. 365) She has Pasta creating the role of Ugo (p. 133) No, a tenor created Ugo; Pasta created the role of Bianca. Is there really a character named Martha in "Guillaume Tell"? (p. 261) Giorgio in "Puritani" is frequently called Georgio. Lablache is caption-credited as singing Otello, when he was really Elmiro. The mezzo in "Rigoletto" is not called Magdelina. ( p. 444) Nor is the soprano lead in "Trovatore" called Lenora. (p. 450) Saint-Saens is called San Saens. The singular of "libretto" is not "libretti." Belvedere is called Belverdere (p. 44) "Voce" is printed as "voca" too many times. "Cords" for "chords" (p. 497)
Apparently, no one with a knowledge of opera did any proofreading, so we get a parade of bizarre opera/play titles: Donizetti's "Il Campanelli," (p. 237) "Compte Ory," "La donna del largo," (4 times!) "Ernanni," "La Pietra Paragone," "Mefistofile," "The Prodical Son," and my favorite "Adelaide di Borgogna in Rome."
Arsace is called Arzace. Giuditta Pasta is called Giudetta. Salvatore Cammarano is called Salvadore. Mustafa is called Mustifa. Geronimo in "Matrimonio Segreto" is often called Geronomo. She doesn't know whether the past tense of "sing" is "sung" or "sang," so she alternates. Apparenly, no writing teacher ever explained to her how to avoid dangling modifiers, so we get an interesting assortment of howlers. She has a problem with "premier" versus "premiere" and "principal" versus "principle."
There are also problems with her assertions. "The Barber of Seville" is proclaimed to be "the most popular work in the history of opera" (p. 119), which will be debatable to the fans of "Boheme," "Carmen," "Traviata," or "Aida." We are told Lablache sang (or "sung" as it were) in over 50 Rossini operas (p. 71), which is difficult to do since Rossini composed only 39 operas. She has Tamburini and Lablache singing in the same 6 June 1839 performance of "Lucrezia Borgia," which doesn't seem possible. Did they both share the role of Alfonso? (spelled "Alfonzo on p. 424)
Is English her primary language? Why does she think a couple can "sire" children as opposed to the busband only? ( p. 25) We are told someone kept "a stud of horses" (p. 443)
During the long quoted reviews and letters, there are many typos, and one doesn't know whether to blame them on the original authors or on Miss Lablache. The use of (sic) after a quoted error would have have helped clarify who is at fault.
I will say that there are a lot of great pictures. And the appendices are very informative. It's always interesting to read about performance practices of yesteryear, especially the mandatory encores. I liked reading about the selections of recitals and concerts, pieces we no longer get to hear. But an editor with a knowledge of grammar and opera could have easily cut 200 pages and made this a more readable book.