The actor Christopher Lee, who died at the age of 93 this week, reflects on an opera career that might have been...
My mother played the piano when I was very young. I never learnt to play, though, because my stepfather said, 'Playing the piano is for sissies. Let the boy leam to box!'
At Wellington I was a Greek and Latin scholar, which took up most of my time. Then the war came, and I joined the RAF. Though there wasn't really enough time to listen to classical music, occasionally it used to be on the radio. I became fascinated by Beethoven piano concertos and their wonderful tunes.
Then we were in Italy for two years, and the local radio broadcast operas: and suddenly one heard a lovely voice. I saw my first opera ever in the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, shortly after the city fell. I've still got the programme: it was The Barber of Seville, which is the opera I would take anyone to who had never seen one, because it has the most wonderful, catchy tunes and marvellous characters. Tito Gobbi sang the barber, and Giulio Neri, one of the great bass voices of all time, sang Don Basilio.
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