The British stage premiere of Hans Pfitzner's 1917 opera about art and its responsibilities produced by Nikolaus Lehnhof, designed by Tobias Hoheisel and conducted by Christian Thielemann.

Bayan Northcott took against the thoughtful, "provincial" staging, but "See it by all means". "Spaciously conducted ... its flaws are fascinating," nodded the Guardian. "The Royal Opera has done Palestrina proud: see it, once," decided the Times. "A noble effort," concluded the FT. "Does Covent Garden such artistic credit," saluted the Telegraph.

Ton't, 6, 10, 15 & 19 Feb at ROH, Covent Garden (0171-304 4000)

Four and a half hours: musically rewarding, dramatically absurd. For enthusiasts only.


Ransom: Mel Gibson and Rene Russo are parents dealing and double-dealing with their son's kidnapper in a Richard Price's tautly plotted thriller directed by Ron Howard who gave us Cocoon and Apollo 13.

Ryan Gilbey was impressed by "the first Ron Howard movie to haunt rather than desert the mind". "A sustained twister of surprises... You're sent away shaken and stirred," purred the Standard. "A finely tooled suspense thriller," declared the FT. "Overwrought but riveting," conceded Time Out. "Did it have to be so long, so uneven," queried the Times?

Cert 15, 121 mins, on every conceivable cinema screen.

Surprisingly watchable.


Georges Braque:

45 paintings from the last 20 years (he died in 1963) of Georges Braque who still languishes in the shadow of fellow cubist Picasso. Still lives, interiors and a series of paintings of the artist's studio.

Andrew Graham-Dixon was moved. "A life lived around some mysterious absence coalesces into an entirely serious and melancholic image." "To be contemplated in the meditative calm with which they were painted," praised the Spectator. "Immensely rewarding and, at times, revelatory," sang the Times. "A wretched little exhibition," sneered the Standard.

Royal Academy, London W1 (0171-439 7438) to 6 April.

Supremely wistful, a study in persistence, tinged by sad retrospection.

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