Leading article: Music at full blast

Every so often a malicious rumour is put about that opera is an elitist art. Say that to the audience at the Met in New York that roundly booed Placido Domingo early this week or the crowds who gave a rapturous reception to Franco Zeffirelli on his return to La Scala in Milan on Thursday. Placido Domingo's crime had been to fail to give proper conducting support to the new diva of the opera crowd, Anna Netrebko.

Zeffirelli's acclaim was for ending his long feud with Europe's greatest opera house and to give the public what it loves most - a no-holds-barred production of Verdi's Aida.

Opera is about many things. It can portray contradictory emotions, past and present, hope and fear in a manner that no other art form can hope to achieve. But, for all the dreary contemporary productions that have tried to make it "relevant", grand opera remains just that - grand.