Women have played men on the operatic stage since the beginnings of opera, but only relatively recently has there been a move towards theatrical realism. Two trouser-wearing mezzos, Sarah Connolly and Helen Sherman, talk to Robert Hugill.
The hero walks on to the stage, looking dashing but dishevelled in a military uniform. His body language says it all, and then he opens his mouth. He turns out to be a she, and the role is en travesti.