Robert Thicknesse still sees and writes about opera and he still believes that at its heart there is an argument that can be made for it as an artform. However the old love which he lavished on it in his youth and as a young critic has gone.
He talks about the demons that have nagged at him over the years, the sheer opulence of the operatic world, the claims of broad appeal which he believes are false, the disproportionate funding, the excuses for modernity and above all the festival audiences who are there unashamedly for the event rather than the performance.
Is this really the greatest of all the artforms? Isn't it more honest to admit that it's a pastime of the rich and, other than a flirtation with mass appeal in 19th century Italy, that's how it has always been?
But Robert also tries to explain why he keeps coming back to opera, given that it isn't to be seen in all the right places and to be seen, most importantly, to be rich.