"I want people to lean forward, I want you to be surprised, I want you to ask questions, and sometimes very difficult questions ... Opera Theatre, because they’re commissioning new work and taking huge risks and doing controversial material like Shalimar – it’s a Muslim man and a Hindu woman, it’s a Romeo and Juliet, but there’s Jihadists, there’s an idea about Muslims and how women are treated in that culture – it’s that kind of stuff where we hold the mirror up and ask difficult questions, where it’s art doing its job that’s important, and not every opera company does that. But they do it here. You get Ariadne on Naxos, but then you get Shalimar the Clown – that’s where you get the grit and the interest and the compelling reason for having an opera company."

Seán Curran: director of Ariadne on Naxos (running through June 24) and choreographer at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, founder and artistic director at the Seán Curran Company, chair of the Department of Dance at NYU Tisch School of the Arts