George Bernard Shaw once said, “Opera is when a tenor and a soprano want to date but are prevented from doing so by a baritone.” He used a different verb instead of “date,” but I changed it so we could actually print his quote.

Shaw was right. Most operas feature a love story between a tenor and a soprano, with a mezzo-soprano as a lady-in-waiting, sister, friend or mother of the soprano. The baritone is in love with the soprano and has to fight for her attention, to woo her away from the tenor.