Les vêpres siciliennes - Royal Opera House, 17 October 2013 (first night)
It's preposterously plotted, dramatically unbalanced and musically uneven. It needs four exceptional singers, an expensively oversized chorus, and a ballet company. No wonder Covent Garden has never staged Les vêpres siciliennes until now.
If any opera justifies the knackered old theatre-within-a-theatre concept, this is the one. Most of the work's faults are directly attributable to the strictures of grand opéra under whichVerdi laboured. The expectations of the premiere's Parisian audience too - girls, glamour, gargantuan length - contributed to the shape of the final work.