When Maggio Musicale chose ‘women' as its theme for the 71st season, opening April 26, the idea in mind was not the self-sacrificing consumptive heroines of classical Italian opera. Think of a much feistier sort of female: donne contro, women who go against the grain. Carmen, Joan of Arc and the much-maligned Lady Macbeth are the uncompromising protagonists of the new season of operas that will open with Honneger's Giovanna D'Arco al Rogo, conducted by Zubin Mehta and directed by Welsh film-maker Peter Greenaway. Bizet's Carmen and Sostakovic's Lady Macbeth will follow. The programme also includes the first-ever performance in Italy of a new opera, Fedra, by Henze.