Opera performed live is a uniquely thrilling experience – it is hugely powerful and the most emotionally direct of all art forms. The combination of dramatic narrative, stagecraft and music, and especially the range and vulnerability of the human voice, make opera the art form that comes closest to expressing pure emotion. It is storytelling at its most vivid and manipulative. Opera seeps into popular consciousness and bleeds into other forms, soundtracking TV shows, sports anthems, adverts and films – where its music is often used as a shortcut to create a heightened emotional tension at climactic moments. Those big moments in opera are usually the ones that deal most directly with the big human themes: life, love, death, loss, passion, joy, anger – but opera can be subtle as well as showy.