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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