The new, lighter opera

"It doesn't matter who it is or whether they can sing, just get me a TV celebrity on the stage".

Thus might many producers of musicals have addressed themselves to casting agent - the reflected light of the flickering screen being one of the most tried and tested bums-on-seats devices. Witness Don Jonson in Guys and Dolls last year, or Denise van Outen's stint in Chicago, to name but two.

But it's not a phrase you would expect to hear buzzing through one of the country's foremost opera houses. Nonetheless, ENO's new production of Franz Lehár's Merry Widow completes its distinguished line-up of singers with the star of a bygone age of BBC comedy, Roy Hudd.

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