Anybody who has enjoyed an extended love affair with opera will know from their frequent disappointment that it is an art form alarmingly susceptible to being royally buggered up. Singers who – either through delusion or an inability to say no – allow themselves to be cast in roles for which they are patently ill-equipped will suck the life out of the best productions; theatre management that persists in colluding with them perpetuates both the disappointment for the audience and the damage to the reputation of the performers; directors in thrall to white-tiled bathrooms, chain-link fencing or the Third Reich can render risible a musical performance that would otherwise rank as world-class.

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