Opera A Midsummer Night's Dream LSO / Colin Davis, Barbican, London

'The show belonged to Colin Davis and the LSO, miraculously freed from a subterranean pit to be positioned on stage'

site unseen: The Council Chamber, Lowestoft Town Hall

The Victorians are famous for producing countless individuals with relentless energy and determination: Charles Dickens, William Gladstone, AWN Pugin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Anthony Trollope... Neither Queen Victoria nor Florence Nightingale were exactly shrinking violets. However, few could match the extraordinary drive of Morton Peto, contractor, builder, engineer, landowner, "railway king" and much else besides.

Anniversaries: 22nd November 1995

Anniversaries

Opera; Owen Wingrave Glyndebourne Touring Opera

All composers have their lame ducks, and Benjamin Britten's is an opera called Owen Wingrave. Written in 1971 for television and, like The Turn of the Screw, based on a ghost story by Henry James, it reached Covent Garden in 1973, then stopped. Aldeburgh tried a concert version two years ago, but Glyndebourne Touring Opera's new production is the first to be seen here since the premiere. The company has not revived a masterpiece, and should be praised for its courage in taking it on. GTO offers a sensitive restoration of a fragile object and a collector's chance to spot a rarity that should not be missed.

A 20th-century folk hero

The songsmith may be dead but the singing never ends. By Nicholas Williams

A great Peter Grimes

Opera: Barbican, London

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Benjamin Britten's adaptation of Shakespeare's Dream has travelled far since its 1960 premiere in Aldeburgh's fusty little Jubilee Hall. In 1991 it reached Aix-en-Provence, whence Canadian producer Robert Carsen's magical festival staging comes to ENO at the Coliseum in May - and to Radio 3 as part of its Fairest Isle season - complete with Christopher Robson and Lillian Watson as the faery king and queen, and comedian Emil Wolk, long a stalwart of the proto-alternative People Show, in the non- singing role of Puck.

THEATRE & OPERA / Dream team: Robert Maycock on Shakespeare and Britten, at Broomhill

Dreams are the essence of Broomhill. Built for science shows by the pioneer of Jewish representation in the English establishment, Sir David Salomons, the private theatre outside Tunbridge Wells has in the last few years been opened up to a wide variety of stagings. The visionary approach persists: Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is running for the rest of the season alongside Benjamin Britten's operatic version.

CLASSICAL MUSIC/ Mark Pappenheim on Classical Music

The early evening organ recital has now become something of a Proms fixture - despite the failings of the Royal Albert Hall's impressive but wheezing Victorian instrument. Though restored as recently as 1990, the 1871 behemoth is still in desperate need of further repair. According to Carlo Curley, that 20-stone Liberace of the organ world, drastic measures are called for. 'I mean, talk about a noise-maker at weddings] It's really a scandal - because it could be the most wonderful concert venue for a big romantic symphonic organ. But it's gotta be all ripped out - it needs a ground-up restoration.'

ARTS / This way for the sadistic fisherman: Tonight 'Peter Grimes' is revived at Glyndebourne. Next month, BBC2 shows ENO's acclaimed production. And next year, an avalanche of performances will celebrate the half century of the work which singlehandedly brought British opera back to life in 1945

THERE IS a surviving generation of British music-lovers who might not be able to recall what they were doing when John F Kennedy was killed or men landed on the moon but can tell you without a moment's hesitation where they were on the night of 7 June 1945. And the answer is, they were at Sadler's Wells for the opening of Peter Grimes: the night, as history relates, when English opera was reborn.

BOOK REVIEW / A portrait of the composer, con amore: 'Max' - Mike Seabrook: Victor Gollancz, 20 pounds

IT'S always a pleasure to have a generous, well-intentioned book to review, and this account of the life and work of one of our more distinguished living composers must be one of the kindest in recent years. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was asked on the radio the other day what he thought of it. Not bad on the whole, he said: 'He's enthusiastic. He seems to like me.'

BOOK REVIEW / A portrait of the composer, con amore: Max - Mike Seabrook: Victor Gollancz pounds 20

IT'S always a pleasure to have a generous, well-intentioned book to review, and this account of the life and work of one of our more distinguished living composers must be one of the kindest in recent years. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was asked on the radio the other day what he thought of it. Not bad on the whole, he said: 'He's enthusiastic. He seems to like me.'

Aldeburgh without the festival was music to my feet

I WAS in East Anglia at the weekend, not far from Aldeburgh, and almost the last thing I did before leaving home was read a piece in the International Herald Tribune about the music festival, which had just finished; which meant that I would have no chance to get involved with the Aldeburgh Music Festival, for which I gave hearty silent thanks, as on the few occasions I have been involved with classical music celebrations I have wished heartily to be elsewhere.

BOOK REVIEW / Sirens and sensibilities: 'London's Burning: Life, Death and Art in the Second World War' - Peter Stansky and William Abrahams: Constable, 18.95

WATCHING the intent audience of Peter Grimes at Sadler's Wells in 1945, Edmund Wilson felt they were 'petrified and held in suspense' by Benjamin Britten's harmonising of 'the harsh, helpless emotions of wartime'. For Wilson, the opera spoke for 'the blind anguish, the hateful rancours and the will to destruction of these horrible years'. Yet Grimes also dramatises Britten's inner disquiet as a misfit in society. National context fuses with personal content.

Letter: A tribute Britten could do without

Sir: It is David Lister ('The battle of Britten', 1 June) who is entirely - and navely - wrong about the 'cultural and economic consequences' of bootlegging, with reference to the distribution of illicit recordings of Benjamin Britten. Mr Lister may 'rejoice' - his word - at what he thinks is a 'unique tribute' to Britten's status. It is a salutation we would prefer to do without.
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