Taking part in acting workshop sessions for classical singers, many moons ago, I was paired up with a soprano to do some exploratory work based on the relationship dynamic between Alcindoro and Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme.

For those who are unaware of the characters and the plotline, Musetta is a good time girl who has an on off relationship with Marcello, one of the young bohemian principals in the opera. She likes her creature comforts too much to starve in a garret, so she gets herself a sugar daddy – Alcindoro.

In one of the opera’s set pieces, the main characters go to a cafe for a meal. Musetta turns up with her sugar daddy, but can’t help being drawn back to Marcello – the man she truly loves. The youngsters manage to divert Alcindoro’s attention and sneak away, leaving him to pay for all their food and drink.

In the workshop situation, the soprano managed to gain my trust (as Alcindoro), though she did mention the fact that she couldn’t guarantee that she would be faithful. The workshop facilitator set the relationship dynamics up so effectively, that I felt real pain when Musetta sang her aria and eventually left my side, to be embraced by Marcello.

Even though this happened many years ago, I remember that the facilitator/coach instructed some of the other singers to console me after the act of betrayal. Is this not the essential relationship dynamic that has provided inspiration for bards, balladeers and other song and dance people through the ages?