Vance plays on the phrase ‘Space Opera’ by offering … space opera. The result is the very definition of farce, as a well-meaning philanthropist and her opera troupe wander the stars offering a taste of Earth’s culture.
The setup is decent, and the fulfillment is okay, but for me this lacked Vance’s usual sparkle and color. It’s funny, but not as funny as Vance often is. The characters are drawn too clearly; there’s not much in the way of subtlety. It’s an episodic story, and the episodes are fun, but it doesn’t really add up to much.
Certainly worth reading for Vance fans, and somewhat for those looking for a light read, or one with operatic references. Otherwise, I recommend looking for some of Vance’s other, and much stronger work.