Adriana Lecouvreur is a problem opera with a melodramatic plot and convoluted libretto, issues that have consigned it to the second tier.

Nevertheless, Francesco Cilèa’s theatrically persuasive score and, above all, the wonderful role it provides for a soprano – a diva, really – with strong dramatic gifts make sure it’s never quite forgotten. Sutherland, Scotto, Tebaldi, Gheorghiu and Netrebko are among those who were unable to resist its lure.

Speaking of problems, there was potentially one for Opera Australia on opening night. An announcement was made that superstar guest Ermonela Jaho was ill and that her place would be taken by one of the company’s principal singers, Natalie Aroyan (Jaho is expected to return to the stage on 22 February).

Aroyan was well rehearsed but this was a role debut under pressured circumstances. She had never seen the opera let alone sung it, and on paper you couldn’t find two more different artists.

From Aroyan’s first notes – spoken ones as she declaimed from Racine’s Bajazet – it was clear her richly textured, powerful instrument with its dark colours and wide reach suited this passionate character well. Even more impressive was the degree of emotional involvement Aroyan was able to summon, particularly...