During the seventeenth century, the growth of opera created the need for a large number of artists to perform in theatres throughout Italy and, increasingly, in much of Europe. The biographies of nearly all the singers who performed in Venice, the centre of opera during the middle of the century, and in other cities of Italy remain unwritten and, in most cases, unwritable. For some singers, including Giovanni Antonio Cavagna, Nicola Coresi and Vincenza Giulia Masotti, letters survive that convey something of their personalities. Yet, for the most part, we know nothing of their families and the early years of their careers, nor of their lives as performers. This article will explore several episodes in the career of the Roman singer Silvia Gailarti Manni, whose operatic appearances during three decades have been known to scholars through librettos, but whose life has never before come into focus.