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Bridging the Gulf: 'Beloved Friend' performed at the at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Royal Opera House makes its debut in Abu Dhabi

First, it was Harrods and then Manchester City football club – now the Gulf is buying culture. Last week, the Royal Opera House (ROH) made its debut in the Gulf, in the culturally thirsty region of the UAE. I decided to pack my bags and head off to the Arab premiere of Beloved Friend at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

Cultural Life: Gavin Bryars, composer

Music: In the car I'm listening to Tom Waits's 'Bad as Me' (I'm releasing an album of his songs with Opera North Projects), Carla Bley's 'Carla's Christmas Carols' (unseasonably) – especially her gospel version of "O Holy Night" – and my daughter's Count Basie albums (with virtuosic rhythm guitarist Freddie Green). Late at night, the jazz pianist Tony Genge, as well as Michael Chance singing "Erbaum dicht" from the St Matthew Passion.

Michael Church: Maxim Vengerov’s Wigmore comeback

Two weeks ago Vengerov stood in for a sick Martha Argerich and played Prokofiev’s first violin concerto, but that was just toe-dipping before the total immersion of his come-back at the Wigmore Hall.

Anton Bruckner makes me lose the will to live

The conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin explore Bruckner's last three symphonies over three nights at the Royal Festival Hall, this month.

James Lake's sculptural head will feature in new Glyndebourne opera, 'Gold Run'

Glyndeboure opera is a head in the race

The new Glyndeboure opera, Gold Run, conducted by James Redwood, is about the Paralympic Games. It tells the story of the learning-disabled athletes inclusion and subsequent 12-year ban, which comes to an end at this year's Paralympic Games. With a 30-strong choir of learning-disabled artists and film footage - a centrepiece is a six-foot cardboard sculpture of learning-disabled opera singer and sportsman David Rushbrook, who performs in the show.

Jacket required: Vittorio Grigolo is a favourite at the Royal Opera House

Vittorio Grigolo: Romantic hero who's proud to be a popera star

The Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo loves to mix up his music

Champion of the Baroque: Sir Colin Davis speaks out

Celebrating his 85th birthday later this year, Sir Colin Davis has been one of Britain's best-loved conductors for more than half a century. The death of his wife, Shamsi, in June 2010, was a severe blow to him; since then, his activities have slowed. "I don't have the energy I used to," he remarks. "After performing a big piece, one feels one should be put out to grass, like an old donkey."

Schubert - A gloriously unfinished celebration

BBC Radio 3 is devoting an entire week to Schubert. He's just the composer for these tough times, says Jessica Duchen

Women in operas can't resist a rake

Things do not look good for Anne Truelove. "No word from Tom," she sings, while her beloved vanishes to London, led astray by the sinister Nick Shadow. That is just the start of her problems. Stravinsky's neoclassical masterpiece, The Rake's Progress, concludes with a heartbreaking scene in which Anne sings her Tom a lullaby as he dies by inches in the lunatic asylum of Bedlam.

Women can't resist a rake

Things do not look good for Anne Truelove. "No word from Tom," she sings, while her beloved vanishes to London, led astray by the sinister Nick Shadow. That is just the start of her problems. Stravinsky's neoclassical masterpiece, The Rake's Progress, concludes with a heartbreaking scene in which Anne sings her Tom a lullaby as he dies by inches in the lunatic asylum of Bedlam.

'We have the best opportunity on Earth to put culture and art at the heart of the games,' says Tony Hall

Tony Hall: The man with a front row seat in our arts establishment

From the Royal Opera House to C4 and the Cultural Olympiad, Tony Hall discusses his rewarding roles with Ian Burrell

The wheel of fortune turns for new opera

The ROH's latest 'everyday' tale revolves around a lottery, its star and composer tell Jessica Duchen

Rutter says: 'I probably don't listen to as much opera as people expect me to in my free time. Sometimes, I need to switch off from work.'

Cultural Life: Claire Rutter, soprano

Theatre: I went to see the ENO's 'Tales of Hoffmann'. There's some great singing from everyone. The production was very entertaining and a bit wacky in places, which appeals to me. It's quite a long opera, but Richard Jones's production didn't feel like it. I sat in the dress circle for the very first time – I usually sit in the stalls – and enjoyed champagne in the intervals. I think this production would also appeal to newcomers to opera. It was a worthwhile night out, and nice to be on the other side of the curtain.

Dvorak's dark side set to light up the stage

I'm all for cats at the opera – a fuzzy feline will always raise a smile. But isn't there something alarming about it when a mermaid meets one? We all know what cats do to fish. It looks as if that might happen to the unfortunate Rusalka, the eponymous heroine of Dvorak's post-Wagnerian take on The Little Mermaid, in the opera's first-ever production at the Royal Opera House.

Oar struck: an artist's impression of royal row barge 'Gloriana' which will take part in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames

Music to snooze by for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The plans for the river pageant are an embarrassment

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