Astonishingly, it is sometimes listed as a ‘comedy’, presumably because nobody dies, but it is, in fact, a story that describes the process of love and separation in a way that most of us can relate to. Dripping with emotion, the final scene is among Puccini’s most unbearably painful inventions.

Magda is the ‘Swallow’ of the title, a society girl, flighty and free, who meets and falls in love with Ruggero, but ultimately, his good family name, and her desire not to sully it, will drive them apart.

The score is warm and delicious, the choruses breathtakingly shaped and the evocation of Parisian life is beguiling – but there is no escaping the tears of the finale.