Best of 2014: Classical and opera preview
Michael Church picks this years must-hear classical
Friday 03 January 2014
The Girl of the Golden West
Opera North opens its new season with Puccini’s poignant tale of the California gold-rush under hot director Aletta Collins. Alwyn Mellor sings Minnie, owner of the Polka saloon, Robert Hayward incarnates the Sherriff Jack Rance, while Rafael Rojas is the seductive bandit Ramerrez. Opens 21 January, Leeds Grand Theatre; touring to 21 March
Early music at its most transcendent is what this award-winning viol consort purveys, and that is what we will get when they tackle Bach’s “The Art of Fugue”, plus Mozart’s arrangements of five fugues from the “Well-tempered Clavier”. Their hallmark is a vibrato-free purity of sound, which brings counterpoint into high relief. Wigmore Hall, London, 22 February
More Puccini, with this new production travelling to cities including Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Southampton, and Llandudno. The charismatic Roman soprano Chiara Taigi will incarnate the flighty heroine, with tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones as the man who inspires her altruistic end. Opens 8 February, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff; touring to 1 August
Recitals by this great Italian pianist are now rare, so his two appearances at the Southbank will be packed with fans. In this first recital he will play Chopin and Debussy, and on 2 April he will play Beethoven: typically, he has yet to announce the programme for that, but it’s bound to be riveting. Royal Festival Hall, London, 18 February
The Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień sings the title role, with Alex Esposito as his Leporello, in this new production. But what’s riding on it is the reputation of Covent Garden’s supremo Kasper Holten. His take will be Don the artist, whose wonderful illusions bewitch all. Royal Opera House, London, 1 to 24 February
ENO will offer a record number of premieres next season, but the most promising is a new opera from British composer Julian Anderson, with a libretto from the Irish playwright Frank McGuinness, and under the direction of Pierre Audi. The ancient story of Oedipus is the armature, but expect powerful contemporary echoes. Coliseum, London, 3 May to 3 June
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan sent home
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyonce '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed and films daughter Blue Ivy in lo-fi homage to viral video
Why are the words 'mongol', 'mongoloid' and 'mongy' still bandied about as insults?
Tom DeLonge compares streaming music to killing elephants
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict