Of the two live performances we saw, which were both in Venice, one was a truly hideous tourist rip-off too horrible to mention in detail, and the other was a brilliant baby version of The Barber of Seville performed in three rooms of a 17th century Venice manor.

There were about thirty of us in the audience that night. Our hostess, a gorgeous dark blonde Italian girl transformed into a maid with puffy hat, big bum and white apron, in front of our eyes and she led us from room to room.

Intimate, comic opera was a new experience for all of us, I think. The four performers were amazing. Not only did they have gorgeous voices, they were such fabulous actors; something I haven’t seen with opera singers before. Because they were so close, Figaro combed, brushed and threatened to cut members of the audience’s hair, the young lady involved us women in her eye rolling dismay of the men, and we were splattered with bits of shaving cream when the ward was being prepared for his shave.

In the last room, a Gothic style bedroom where the lovers finally get hooked up, during a storm, our ‘maid’ stood at the light switch flashing the lights to create the storm. So delightful.

Although the whole thing was in Italian (a huge advantage was that it was sung by Italians who obviously knew exactly what they were saying) we all understood the whole, hilarious story, with its love letters, farce and general mayhem.

It was a surreal, charming, totally delightful performance, accompanied by a foursome of brilliant live musicians. What a great way to introduce young people to opera.