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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew?, 27 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
Eisenbeiss does an amazing job at uncovering this lost superstar of the opera world. Barbaja was not just an impresario; he was THE impresario. The story is as much about him as the leading cultural centers of Europe at a fascinating period when modernism came alive. The author combines research with a personal style that brings to life this fascinating man and his world. Not just a must-read for opera lovers but a terrific introduction for those with only a casual interest in the art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and a Great Story, 17 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful story of an early prototype for the powerful 1930s Hollywood producer. Once a famous, powerful impresario, Barbaja is barely known today. Philip Eisenbeiss has brought him back to life and has recreated the fascinating time and place in which he lived his extraordinary life. Marvellous.
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5.0 out of 5 stars bravo!, 9 May 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
Philip Eisenbeiss weaves a riveting account of a manipulative, charming visionary into a historical context of the geo-politics, culture and predilections of the times.

You do not need to be an opera buff to be entranced by this book. In addition to the zesty ingredients of wine, women and song we learn about the rise and fall of Napoleon and its effect on the residents of both the grand palaces and the boisterous streets of Naples; how fine food fuelled Rossini's prodigious output; architecture (Barbaja's Versace-esque summer residence particularly resonated); and, most of all, Barbaja's game changing business methods and the deft, roguish way he implemented them.

Philip Eisenbeiss narrates all this with a light touch - but Bel Canto Bully packs a big punch. Next, please!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and talented writer, 9 May 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
I'm exceptionally thrilled by the writer's talent and skills. Bel Canto Bully is outstanding and a must for every opera enthusiast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great story - even if you know nothing about opera, 28 April 2013
By 
Mr. T. G. Preston "tom" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
So - I know very little about opera and listen to it rarely. But this book has piqued my interest. It is a book about an entrepreneur, a gambling mogul, a womanizer and a bon viveur all set against one of Europe's most interesting historical periods. It just so happens that he is an opera impresario who, although from humble origins, is able to shape, nurture and manipulate the writers, stars and production of opera in a way that has influence all the way through to the modern day.

Somehow the author brings the life and times of Domenico Barbaja, the subject of the book, alive in a narrative that tells a story more akin to a novel. I found myself vividly experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, fashion and society that made up the Naples of the time. Yet this is clearly done with avid research and great passion about the many characters in the book - including names as familiar as Rossini (he was a glutton) and Bellini.

I heard the author speak before I bought the book. He described Barbaja as "the Simon Cowell of his time". The book leaves you in no doubt that this is true - and personally made me wonder just how colorful the life of Mr. Cowell might be? Could it possibly compete with that of Mr. Barbaja?

A great read and a great education.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating read, 24 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
I must say, I haven't read a paper book in a long time, being a Kindle fan. In this case though, listening to the accompanying CD really added to the experience.

A long-term fan of particularly Rossini's operas, I never had any idea about the historical context. Starting to read this book, I was totally surprised that I read it all in one long weekend, and it was like a time machine. Illustrating how composers and "promoters" (which is probably what Barbaja was in today's terms) worked together, the human intrigues and the influence, for example, that censors and kings had on what composers could do.

Listening to a wonderful Rossini opera is just the tip of the iceberg. Reading Philip Eisenbeiss' book brings the entire historic context to life, in a wonderfully entertaining way. Highly recommended reading for any opera (or history) fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Encore!, 23 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
Bel Canto Bully is a fascinating biography of Domenico Barbaja, an important and nearly forgotten figure in the history of opera. The author expertly weaves the story of Barbaja's life through the broader themes of art, politics and society of mid-19th century Europe. The descriptions of Bourbons, Hapsburgs, Rothschilds, and many others converging on an extremely colorful and culturally important Naples are fascinating. As Barbaja's influence spreads throughout Europe we see the development of Italian opera in Vienna and Milan as well. The author brings to life the opera houses filled as they were with gambling, socializing, and appreciation for a developing and highly popular form of entertainment, very different from opera as we know it today. In short, a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I don't like opera but I like this book!, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
A friend gave me this book as a present, but I didn't expect very much - I just couldn't put it down!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 19 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
There's no business like show business! Through the life of Barbaja,
this book gives colour and context to early 19th century Italian
opera. Philip Eisenbeiss's engaging writing style made this rather
esoteric subject accessible and enjoyable. I highly recommend this
book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo!, 18 April 2013
This review is from: Bel Canto Bully: The Life and Times of the Legendary Opera Impresario Domenico Barbaja (Hardcover)
Bravo! A brilliant work of scholarship and highly entertaining read. With elegance and a dry wit, Philip Eisenbeiss has woven together the life and work of Barbaja and 19th century Italian political, social and operatic history and trivia. This book will interest the opera fanatic and inspire the opera novice.
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