Paul Atkinson explores the remarkable world of opera through his fieldwork with the internationally known Welsh National Opera company. In order to show us how cultural phenomena are produced and enacted, he takes us on stage and behind the scenes into the collective social action that goes into the realization of an opera. The author demonstrates how artistic interpretation is translated into the routine work of the rehearsal studio and the theatre, and how producers negotiate a practical reality with her or his performers to ultimately create extraordinary performances through the mundane, everyday work that makes them possible. The author calls for a sustained investigation of cultural phenomena, not based solely on textual analysis but on the importance of collective work and social organization. Atkinson's work will appeal to anthropologists and sociologists who study the performance arts, as well as to those engaged in theatre arts, opera and music.