School's out: Why children and opera don't always mix

Is the dropping of Opera North's community project, Beached, down to homophobia or just incompetence? Jessica Duchen reports

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Not so great Britten

Radical reinterpretations of classic operas are nothing new, but putting paedophilia into A Midsummer Night's Dream is a step too far, says Adrian Hamilton

Operashots: The Tell-Tale Heart/The Doctor’s Tale, Royal Opera Linbury Studio Theatre, London

Pop and film graduates jump genres in a compelling juxtaposition in styles

Grant Gee's film Patience opens WG Sebald celebration

When asked why his documentary is called Patience (After Sebald), Grant Gee referred to a moment in WG Sebald's Austerlitz in which a man is seen arranging postcards on a table. "It is as if he is playing a game of patience, as if the right arrangement of images were the key to a trauma."

Desmond Barrit: 'Im making a Habit of being Richard Griffiths

It is slightly frightening seeing a show when you know you are going to take over a role. Actors are like magpies – they pick everything up that they think is clever. Of course, you want to reinvent a role and not repeat what the previous actor did. The fact I have taken over from Richard Griffiths twice – both in The Habit of Art and The History Boys – mystifies me because we are very different.

E M Forster: A New Life by Wendy Moffat

The longest journey

London Symphony Orchestra/ Elder, Barbican Hall, London

At the spiritual centre of this exciting re-match between Mark Elder and the London Symphony Orchestra was Benjamin Britten’s intellectual and emotional kinship with Dmitri Shostakovich.

A late flowering for a great Britten

When Billy Budd opens Glyndebourne's season tomorrow it will bring the curtain down on an old feud, says Lynne Walker

A Giant stoops to conquer the Brighton Festival

From Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf to Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk, written for the composer's three-year-old daughter, orchestral pieces have long introduced children to classical music. But the number of pieces written with children in mind is far from numerous. Why hasn't more classical music been written especially for children?

These New Puritans - The new pastoralists

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

Lisa Markwell: Now don't go thinking it's time to change your life

Long dark days and seasonal penury aren’t circumstances in which to resolve things

Best music books for Christmas

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.

Johann Hari: Alan Bennett and the question of innocence

In his new play, [Bennett] takes his dark analysis of pederasty further

The Habit of Art, NT Lyttelton, London<br/>Cock, Royal Court Upstairs, London<br/>Public Property, Trafalgar Studio 2, London

Alan Bennett&rsquo;s hugely entertaining drama tells us much about Auden and Britten &ndash; and just a little about the playwright

The Habit of Art, Lyttelton, National Theatre, London

Bennett the maestro returns with a multi-layered masterpiece
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Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee