I was reading A History of Opera by Abbate and Parker. On page 19, they say
And although its financial basis has gradually broadened...opera in its primary form, theatrical form has typically been the province of elite groups, only becoming more broadly popular when technologies of various kinds allowed it to spread from the opera house into the streets and into people's homes.
Is this accurate? I was under the impression opera was quite popular amongst much of European society during the time of Mozart and Beethoven. Can someone offer a more substantially supported answer than this offhand comment by Abbate and Parker?