Opera for the People: English-Language Opera & Women Managers in Late 19th-Century America is an in-depth exploration of the love affair that Americans had with opera during the second half of the nineteenth century, and of the women singers, managers, and philanthropists who were behind its success. The book covers a forty-year period and fills a major hole in American social and cultural history. It is available through Oxford University Press, Amazon, and Swem Library, which has both hard and electronic copies.
In short interview on the radio show With Good Reason (a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities), Prof. Preston describes this middle-class American fascination with opera, and paints a verbal picture of entertainment in late-century America that many listeners and readers will find surprising.
The interview can be accessed here: http://withgoodreasonradio.org/episode/whistles-in-the-mist/?t=00:43:50