Singing the title role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia is a tough call at any time, but for soprano Claire Rutter, who stars in this role at ENO on Monday, it's going to be tougher than usual. For film-maker Mike Figgis is making his operatic directorial debut with a production that will mark several firsts: it will be simultaneously broadcast by Sky on three TV channels, it will be screened in 3D in selected cinemas, and it will be interspersed with footage of a film he has already shot in Rome, to a soundtrack created from the score.
Normally the epitome of ebullient confidence, Rutter is uncharacteristically cautious when I catch her between rehearsals: "It's hard to say how things will come out yet. Mike's doing a lot of listening, and still finding his feet." The set, she says, will be in period, but minimalist: "I have the most beautiful gold throne you can imagine, which I think has blown the whole budget. We're being allowed a lot of freedom in how we want to move, but as he's also making a film, he wants the movements to be quite slow. This takes some concentration."
Her off-duty time is, meanwhile, being taken up with the website she and her baritone husband Stephen Gadd have just set up – operagent. com. The idea dawned when she was stranded by the ash-cloud in Finland last year, and Finnish National Opera was trying to find a tenor within driving distance of Helsinki. "So I put an alert out on Facebook. But we thought that there should be some way of letting companies know who's nearby, instead of the company having to phone many agents to get a result. On our website there will be a place for people to enter their location, so that if another ash-cloud descends, companies will see where people are who may be of use." Artists will be able to enter information themselves, which means it will be as up-to-date as they wish, and they won't have to pay thousands for a website of their own.
'Lucrezia Borgia', ENO, London WC2 (www.eno.org) Mon to 3 March