Pure Puccini: an opera lover’s melodramatic family history

‘If a horse is born in a stable, does it bark like a dog?’ By the time the Duke of Wellington’s famous question (‘If a man is born in a stable, does that make him a horse?’) made its way down to the young Michael Volpe, growing up in a fractured Italian family on the ‘streets and railway tracks… estates and football terraces’ of 1970s west London, it was mangled almost beyond recognition, bent and twisted into a surreal new shape. But the spirit of Wellington’s question remained, burrowing into a boy with one foot in the stable and one beyond, his very name a contradiction of identity: the blandly