Pandora: Burstein's new opera takes potshots at Iran

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The Independent Online

Stand by for fireworks. Keith Burstein, the composer whose last opera Manifest Destiny led to a David-and-Goliath-style High Court battle with the London Evening Standard, is back.

Last year, Burstein tried to sue the newspaper with the help of Rabinder Singh QC – a Matrix Chambers colleague of Cherie Booth – after one of its reviewers criticised the opera's "anti-American" tone. He lost the case and was declared bankrupt after being unable to stump up the estimated £67,000 in legal costs incurred.

Now, however, Burstein tells us he has almost finished work on a sequel to the controversial work. "It will be called The Empress of America and is set 10 years from now, when a country not unlike Iran appears to be about to launch a nuclear strike," says Burstein. "When they explode their 'bomb', it releases an explosion of love all over the world instead of destruction."

The production is likely to make use of the same company, Daniel X Opera, as last and Burstein hopes it will debut at the Edinburgh Festival. Even better, it appears a third instalment might be in the pipeline too. "It's in the offing!" he chirps. Critics beware!

Le Bon Jnr shows her rapid reflexes

*No faux nonchalance from Amber Le Bon, daughter of Duran Duran frontman Simon. Currently pursuing a career as a model, she clearly feels little need to distance herself from her father's legacy. Touring the dining room at the Grey Goose Character and Cocktails fundraiser for the Elton John Aids Foundation in a bespoke up-for-auction Roland Mouret dress, she fell victim to an impertinent heckler. "What's your favourite Duran Duran song?" he cried. Not a beat missed, Le Bon replied: "'The Reflex'." Rapid ones indeed.

Minister barking up the wrong tree?

*All together now. Recession? What recession? The Department of Health became an unlikely target for a horde of paparazzi yesterday afternoon when a written parliamentary answer from the Health minister Phil Hope revealed that it had managed to find £2,485 to spend on a single Christmas tree. The specimen in question can, apparently, be found at Skipton House, a ministry building near London's Waterloo, although Pandora has yet to ascertain precisely of which precious metal it is made.

News for you on Deayton

As 2010 rears its head, the makers of Have I Got News For You prepare to celebrate their 20th year of broadcasting. The current affairs quiz first aired back in 1990, with Angus Deayton as its host.

Earlier this year, it was suggested that Deayton – who was forced to stand down following a spate of unseemly hookers-and-drugs tales in the papers – might be invited back on to the programme as a one-off guest host. Alas, it seems the rumours are unfounded. We're told the stunt – unlikely to have won a fan in Ian Hislop, whose frequent on-air jibes at Deayton left little love lost between the pair – has not fallen into place.

"We won't be doing anything special, as it happens," says a spokesman.

Cowell rages as No 1 spot slips away

*Simon Cowell's defence of his right to a Christmas No 1 has done little to serve his cause. In the wake of the X Factor judge's comments that campaigns to stop him and competition winner Joe McElderry were "stupid", Rage Against The Machine climbed to the top of the charts. Meanwhile, the world breathed a sigh of relief as Gordon Brown, hitherto preoccupied with visiting the troops, finally weighed in on the weekend's results, reassuring us that he had, in fact, had time to congratulate to all three finalists – if only by post. Phew!

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