It may be tempting providence to programme Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony in Manchester at precisely the time that the season of renewal should well and truly have sprung
When Billy Budd opens Glyndebourne's season tomorrow it will bring the curtain down on an old feud, says Lynne Walker
These New Puritans meld inspirations as diverse as the Essex countryside, Benjamin Britten, and Japanese drums to create a unique music that sounds as though it's from a weird, private cult. Nick Hasted meets the foursome
Books on classical music are these days as rare as hens' teeth. Indeed, only Faber, with its links to Benjamin Britten, features at least one title per season. And for the true Britten aficionado (or those whose curiosity was piqued by The Habit of Art), there's John Evans's Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten (£25). Of broader appeal is Susie Gilbert's Opera for Everybody: The Story of English National Opera (Faber, £25). The company, product of late Victorian philanthropy, began life at the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells before settling at the Coliseum in the 1960s – a people's opera to rival Covent Garden. Thatcherism inflicted more damage than two world wars, and it has never entirely recovered.
This gentle French drama gets under your skin with a heady cocktail of intimacy and family ties
Music the composer wrote as a child can now be heard for the first time. It shows a precocious genius, says Lynne Walker
You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera's Linbury Studio Theatre – thinking you've taken a wrong turn into the main house, as a cross-section of the ornate balconies and familiar red curtains of the latter confronts you. John Gay's original The Beggar's Opera was so successful that it laid the foundations for the theatre that is now the Royal Opera House.
Mr and Mrs Punch and the Molotov cocktail: Britten was said to hate Birtwistle's violent opera, but, 40 years on, its wit and skill stand out. Just don't look for a moral centre