THE CRITICAL LIST

AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE ARTS IN 1995
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JANUARY Today is the 90th birthday of Sir Michael Tippett and, quite rightly, music programmers are not going to let you forget it.

The tributes begin tonight at the Wigmore Hall with the tenor Martyn Hill. On the 24th Jessye Norman is at the Barbican singing Berg, conducted by Pierre Boulez as part of a six concert series in celebration of Boulez's 70th birthday. This year is also the tercentenary of the death of Purcell. Expect more discs in Hyperion's excellent survey of his work.

Beware the hype surrounding Interview with a Vampire which opens on the 20th. Despite a generally mixed reception in the USA, critics admired Philippe Rousselot's lush cinematography, also seen to great effect in the Cannes award-winning La Reine Margot which opens here on the same day.

In the theatre, aside from Sarah Caine's Blasted at the Royal Court, the month's highlights are repeats. Theatre de Complicite play a six-week season at the Shaftesbury Theatre from the 18th with one of 1994's finest productions, The Three Lives of LucieCabrol and Cheek by Jowl move into the Albery Theatre on the 25th for just three weeks with their outstanding all-male As You Like It.

Don't miss the Man Ray show at the Serpentine Gallery from the 18th as it may get lost in the stampede for the first of the 1995 blockbusters: the Poussin at the Royal Academy from the 19th.

FEBRUARY David Pountney directs Twelfth Night at the Nottingham Playhouse from the 9th - it is his first ever Shakespeare. The same cannot be said of the ex-RSC actor Ralph Fiennes whose Hamlet opens at the Hackney Empire at the end of the month. If you can't make it there, try Broadway later in the year. Failing that, from the 24th you can see him in Quiz Show, directed by Robert Redford, which together with Schindler's List has made him a hot enough property for people to forgive his Heathcliffe in the Wuthering Heights remake. Tim Robbins spent most of The Hudsucker Proxy running on empty but The Shawshank Redemption (17 Feb) is a major return to form.

This is a vintage month for the visual arts, with Yves Klein (he of the monochromes) at the Hayward from the 9th, and Odilon Redon at the Royal Academy from the 16th - which is also the day that the Tate Gallery opens a huge show devoted to the troubled and troubling abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning. By way of a contrast, the National Gallery offers, on the 22nd, Spanish still-lifes from Velazquez to Goya. The Tippett celebrations continue with a mere four performances of ENO's new production King Priam (book now or you'll never get in) plus a Barbican series of his major works including the world premiere of The Rose Lake (19 Feb), described by the man himself as his last major orchestral work.

MARCH The Mark Morris Dance Company, unseen outside this country apart from annual - and rapturously received - sell-outs at the Edinburgh Festival open the Woking Dance Umbrella on the 16th as part of a UK tour. Essential viewing. Earlier in the month, Northern Ballet Theatre will premier Christopher Gable's The Brontes. Antonia Bird's Priest, from a Jimmy McGovern script, has been scooping awards on the festival circuit and finally opens on the 17th. Robert Altman is literally back in fashion with Pret a Porter, starring everyone from Sophia Loren to Richard E Grant.

APRIL Appropriately enough, ENO and Scottish Opera have chosen April Fool's Day for the British premier of Schnittke's Life with an Idiot. The production moves to Glasgow on 28th May. Those in search of something more rarefied should head for the Arvo Part festival at the South Bank. At the other end of the scale Miriam Margolyes heads the cast in a revival of The Killing of Sister George which comes to the West End on the 26th after a short tour. And, on the 11th, the Tate shakes off its avant-garde image with a survey of British Sporting Art.

MAY AND BEYOND American work is much in evidence. What with Frank Lloyd Wright at the Design Museum in May and photographs by Paul Strand at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in the same month. Strand's work also crops up in the American PhotographyShow at the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in October. The Eurocentric might prefer the Hayward's survey of Impressionism, landscape and the Paris salon, from May 18th.

June sees the premiere of Genet's newly discovered police thriller at the Lyric Hammersmith and Elvis Costello programming the 3rd Multimedia Meltdown festival at the South Bank Centre. Covent Garden has a Verdi festival with four operas inside the month.

The Neon Bible, the latest film from Terence Davies, hits the screen in September and the West End gets Martin Guerre - The Musical, directed and designed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod.

Elsewhere, Simon Russell Beale enters the Hamlet competition at the Donmar and Fiona Shaw shows us The Way of the World at the National Theatre which, in a strong year, has one last ace up its sleeve: Diana Rigg will play Mother Courage for Jonathan Kentin November.

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