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From Le Carre's Smiley's People:

And when she opened the door to him, he slipped past her like a shadow: a little hobgoblin of a fellow, in a black overcoat with velvet tabs on the collar, giving him an air of operatic conspiracy.

Does that mean his appearance was similar to characters in operas that engaged in certain conspiracy? If yes, please give me an example of such an character to better understand this phrase.

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I suspect it's not a reference to any particular opera, but to the fact that operas tend to have melodramatic plots. The little man looked like the popular idea of a conspirator in a sensational drama.

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