Is Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro the greatest opera ever written?
It is, without question, the most perfect, and that's something that Fiona Shaw is more than a little mindful of as she steers her new production for English National Opera through the final stages of rehearsal.
In this exclusive audio podcast she talks to Edward Seckerson about the balance and dynamics and pace of the piece as its narrative hurtles through a hectic and eventful 24 hours in the life of the Almaviva household.
This is Shaw's third collaboration with ENO and she promises a staging of the great work that will find resonance with today's audiences (always a challenge) and hopefully have us questioning how seismic shifts in the social order between the 18th century and now have brought about so little change in the basic frailties of human nature.
Shaw - a great actress - is striving to bring her own instinctive sense of timing to fine-tuning the intricate collusion between music and drama and it's refreshing to hear her talk about how hard she and her cast have been working to move away from "park and bark" (as the Americans put it) and keep arias and ensembles alike purposefully on the move.
She speaks of a "revolving maze" of activity through every far-flung corner of the Almaviva stronghold. And fans of the HBO cult TV series True Blood will be delighted that she doesn't get away from this podcast without reflecting on that experience!