Classical music: Aldeburgh festival

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The Independent Culture
At one point in the opera Powder Her Face, the heroine's aria is reduced to a series of incoherent mumbles - for the simple reason that her mouth is full. The scene is the only known instance of fellatio occurring in an opera, but its inclusion is no mere titillation: it is part and parcel of the life of the Duchess of Argyll, the subject of Thomas Ades's phenomenally well-received stage debut (with a libretto written by Independent columnist Philip Hensher). The duchess makes a suitably tragic operatic heroine, but the work is nevertheless a brave choice to open the 52nd Aldeburgh Festival on Friday. Ades (right) - at 28 the bright new light of British music - is the festival's artistic director, but any charge of self-promotion is unjustified: in his hands, the festival is placing itself at the cutting edge while maintaining its roots in the past.

Aldeburgh, Suffolk (01728 453543) Fri until 27 June

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