Sir Tom Allen is still fresh, four decades on
Friday 27 January 2012
Where to begin with the achievements of Sir Tom Allen? As Britain's best-loved opera singer, and as the real-life inspiration for Billy Elliot – hailing from a mining family up north, with no expectations of stardom – he embodies the sort of story dreams are made of. He has created a parallel career as a director, and has just been appointed Chancellor of Durham University, but tonight will see a different culmination: when he walks on stage at Covent Garden in London as Don Alfonso in Jonathan Miller's wickedly knowing Cosi fan tutte, it will mark the 40th anniversary of his first appearance there.
Ruthlessly manipulative beneath his genially avuncular façade, Sir Tom's Don Alfonso is incarnated with such authority that it's now hard to accept anyone else in the role. And he regards this comedy as profound: "It's like an atom bomb on stage, everything gets blown asunder, and each time I do this show it gets more interesting. Even in rehearsal this morning I had a new thought."
In Mozart's day, he thinks, the crossed pairs of lovers would have gritted their teeth and gone back to their original partners, but not today: "Now we think, 'I've just faced Becher's Brook in my marriage, so I'm going to duck out'. We tend to give up quickly, rather than work at things."
'Cosi Fan Tutte', Royal Opera House, London WC2 (020 7240 1200) tonight to 13 February
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
House of Cards season 3: Claire Underwood is based on an eagle, says Robin Wright
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut