‘the author’s enthusiasm for his subject is unmistakeable, and the story he tells is extraordinary’ – Opera Journal
‘this entertaining and well-researched book, [is] written by a man clearly brimming with enthusiasm for the bel canto era, the years of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini.’ – The Quarterly Review
Philip Eisenbeiss brilliantly pieces together the forgotten story of the tireless tyrant who became the most important opera impresario of the early 19th century, a time when Napoleon and the Bourbons were fighting for control of Italy and when singers and composers were the pop stars of their day.
An uneducated coffee waiter, Barbaja made a fortune running gambling concessions and soon took over opera houses in Naples, Milan and Vienna, launching the careers of Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti. The foul-mouthed, womanising and hustling impresario had an irrevocable impact on the history of Italian opera: determined to create a lucrative business, he cultivated an energetic environment of new artists producing innovative, exciting opera that people would flock to hear.
Philip Eisenbeiss has been living in Hong Kong for the past 20 years, where he has been working as a banker and financial headhunter. After extended training as an opera singer, he started his career in journalism.