Sir: There are few "first rank serious composers" who would still be giants had they never written a single opera (Dr Gerald Silverman, letter, 17 August). Opera commissions kept most of the great writers in food and ink, enabling then to produce symphonies and chamber music; many lived to write opera while some wrote opera to live.
As a singer and lover of 19th-century French song in particular, I would like nothing more than to be able to perform, and hear sung, the rare gems of French melodie. However, I am aware that my audience is strictly limited. There are few singers giving high-calibre recitals on world stages who have not carved their names in the opera world first. Through these singers' popularity, people are tempted to unearth the treasures of lesser- known repertoire by unknown composers or those best known for opera. Can this be such a bad thing?
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