Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Opera made over

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 04 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b372
  1. James Owen Drife, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Leeds
  1. J.O.Drife{at}

    An opera about cosmetic surgery lacks the musical cutting edge needed to bring smiles to the faces of the audience, James Owen Drife finds

    Plastic surgery has been ignored for too long as a subject for opera. This omission has at last been rectified by Skin Deep, which has just had its world première in Leeds. Doctors rarely if ever come across as heroic figures on the opera stage,1 and our hopes were high that Opera North intended to redress the balance. Would we see, perhaps, Archibald McIndoe thunder like Wotan while rescuing crashed Spitfire pilots from the flames and giving them back their hands? Or would the chorus spend the first act raising charitable funds to send the tenor to Africa to repair facial clefts, with the final aria coming from a grateful and freshly symmetrical soprano?

    Nothing so original. Skin Deep focuses on cosmetic surgery at the top end of the market. It opens in a Swiss clinic where Dr Needlemeier and his staff help the rich and famous “put right what nature got wrong,” and it ends in California, where the doctor …

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