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Letter: More than just music

Sir: L. Horenstein's letter (20 November) reminds me of a visit to Covent Garden in the Seventies for a performance of Madame Butterfly. On that occasion Butterfly was sung by a lady, who, from a side box, seemed to be almost seven feet tall, with a 63-inch bust and a large, very white face with pointed features surrounded by positively acres of hair in tight ringlets reaching below her shoulders. Pinkerton, on the other hand, was sung by a small, young-looking chap, of mild demeanour, so that one received the impression of witnessing a rather questionable aunt-nephew relationship. I retreated with my chair to the back of the box whence I heard beautiful music beautifully performed.

While I adored the aural experience, if that was all opera was meant to be about, why not perform it only in concert version? No, I also want the visual, theatrical element which is surely the essential complement to the music. But, please, within credible limits.

Yours sincerely,


London, NW3