As I've been going through my classical CDs, listening to them in chronological order, I've also been reading The Vintage Guide to Classical Music. It's informative and educational, but also quite entertaining at times:
Handel's leading sopranos, Cuzzoni and Faustina, were bitter rivals; a 1727 performance was enlivened by an onstage hair-pulling, scenery-destroying catfight between the two ladies while their respective factions slugged it out in the hall. During a disagreement at their very first rehearsal, Handel somehow picked up Cuzzoni -- who besides being foul-tempered and ugly was also quite hefty -- and dangled her out a window. When she finally saw the logic of his argument, Handel pulled her back inside and warned, "I know that you are a witch, but don't forget that I am the devil himself."
Somehow I had pictured the composer of Messiah as a more sedate figure!