As one of the oldest arts, opera has an air of magic but gravity too. But that doesn't mean it is for a stuffy, serious audience. Far from it and Phyllida Lloyd's production of La Bohème for Opera North is, if anything, wonderfully contemporary, punchy and oozing with youthful optimism, tragedy and of course, romance.
I've been eagerly anticipating the start of this year's 30th anniversary BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest, which has been firmly in my diary for the last 18 months. I've been following the months of preparation leading up to next week, to the extraordinary, challenging competition, which viewers and listeners around the world have the chance to see - and it represents the culmination of many, many months of musical preparation by each of the candidates. It's a world-wide event, a fantastic platform!
Every night my mother would put us to bed to classical music, my younger brother would fall asleep instantly, but I was different and I couldn't sleep until the record was finished. I would secretly leave my room and stand in front of the mirror that was in the long corridor next to my room and I would dance and pretend I was Montserrat Caballé in La Traviata.