No one can sell out the War Memorial Opera House faster than Anna Netrebko. Just try and get a ticket for Saturday night's La Traviata, if you want to see why for yourself. The Russian soprano is the biggest draw in opera nowadays: she's the rare bird with the transcendental voice, and, well, she has the physique you'd actually want to see in a satin negligee, as in this Roaring 20s Marta Domingo production of the Verdi masterpiece. Plus, she has an inspiring story, working her way up from scrubbing the floors of the Maryinksy Theater in St Peterbourg, to photo spreads in Vanity Fair, and receiving honors from Vladimir Putin.

We yearn for a candid interviewee, who will spill the beans about garlicky tenor's breath and the "microphone between her tits," so we were beyond ourselves to score a phone call with her. But so much for the unadulterated heart-to-heart conversation, her US team is a bit more protective than her UK guys, and our conversation was moderated. "We're in a car driving approximately 250 would be very exhausting for Anna to do this," said one chaperon, worried about the can you hear me now? quality of the connection (troublesome here as well). Or "I don't think this is a question she should answer," another one stopped us. Why not? "It's because I don't think that she knows, and I don't think she should comment on." We had asked about the consequences of belt tightening at the opera house. "I probably don't know," Anna chimed. Lucky her.