Though as the first opera to deal with real human beings instead of mythical characters it is certainly historically important, Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea is by no means the great opera the textbooks have always had us dutifully believe.
It is overlong, some of the episodes and characterisations are tedious (not least that of the old bore Seneca, whose enforced suicide comes as a blessed release to all of us), and the best music - the concluding love duet between Poppea and Nero - is not even from Monteverdi's hand.
But Birmingham Conservatoire is to be congratulated on its educational enterprise in deploying a vast number of students in this double-cast production.
Not all of the voices have the maturity of tone, nor indeed even the capacity to sustain intonation, to carry their roles, but it was heartening to witness the commitment and enthusiasm of these youngsters in such a demanding context.
Thursday's performance began uncomfortably, but things warmed up with the entrance of Nero (Caroline Sharpe, a portrayal which grew in authority) and Poppea (Bridget Kerrison alluring both physically and vocally).
There were other well-taken roles, too: Laura Woods a full-voiced, no-nonsense Ottavia, Shira Lang ripe as Poppea's nurse Arnalta, EJ Cooper a charmingly gauche Valletto, and, best of all, Claire Lees as a radiant, pretty Drusilla.
Michael Barry's inventive production moved the action from imperial Rome to what I would guess was the 1950s dolce vita in that city, aided by Colin Judges' effective, minimalist but significant sets and Ace McCarron's customarily superlative lighting.
Andrew King directed a colourful, lively little orchestra, with harpsichord, organ and regal continuo outstanding, though recorder intonation was not always perfect.