News

Italian luxury notebook maker Moleskine has picked Canary Wharf and Covent Garden for its first standalone UK stores.

Close-up: Brian Duffy

Who needs a polyphonic synthesiser when you've got a Speak and Spell?

Tipping: Your views

The Weasel: London’s larder

Some may think that the term "Proustian" is over-employed these days, not least by this column, but once again I have to call on old Marcel for le mot juste. I can recall no volume that has had such a powerful Proustian effect on me as the new photo book Covent Garden by Clive Boursnell (Francis Lincoln, £20). "New" might not be quite the right word here, for the transporting images were captured between 1968 and 1974, when the market was still full of tumult and tomatoes, and forgotten by Boursnell for 30-odd years. I worked on the fringe of the market for some of this period. From the moment I opened the book, I was hurtled – whoosh! – back across the decades. My head filled with the smell – a mixture of ancient cabbage, fresh salad, Players No.6 and diesel exhaust – of the Piazza. I encountered this olfactory cocktail as I made my way, usually late, often a little the worse for wear, to my place of employment, a small publishers on Endell Street.

A svelter belter: Soprano Deborah Voigt has slimmed down but that fabulous voice is as big as ever

Four years ago, Deborah Voigt hit the headlines by not singing in Ariadne auf Naxos at Covent Garden. The Royal Opera House dropped her from the cast, the reason being that Voigt, possessor of a fine dramatic soprano voice, was too large for the little black dress the production demanded she wear.

Preview: Southbank Sinfonia/Allen/Matthews, Cadogan Hall, London

A glowing example for young singers

Album: Gluck, Alceste – Royal Opera House/Mackerras (Royal Opera House Heritage Series)

Recorded live in December 1981, when period instruments were still a novelty and Gluck's reputation as a dramatist had yet to be fully restored, this vintage performance of 'Alceste' has vitality and freshness.

First Night: The Minotaur, Royal Opera House, London

The human tragedy behind myth fires up this visionary tale

Royal Opera welcomes back Bryn Terfel for Wagnerian reprise at Covent Garden

When Bryn Terfel pulled out of Wagner's Ring cycle last year, the Royal Opera House issued an unusually terse statement, expressing "shock and surprise" at his decision.

Royal Opera House to drop 'shrunken penis' poster

The Royal Opera House has said it will stop using a promotional poster for a Verdi opera after an actor complained that it had been distorted in a demeaning way.

Marina Poplavskaya: At full throttle

Covent Garden calls her 'turbocharged' – and the Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya certainly lives life in the fast lane, discovers Jessica Duchen

You Write The Reviews: La Traviata, Royal Opera House, London

I booked to see this opera primarily to see Anna Netrebko, whom I had seen last year light up the stage at the Barbican performing arias and duets with Rolando Villazó*. This decision was vindicated when many reviewers and, in particular, Edward Seckerson in this newspaper gave the production five stars and said that "the five stars belong to Anna Netrebko". The last Violetta to cause such a stir was Angela Gheorghiu. So far, so good. As is well documented, however, Netrebko cancelled her next performances. Violetta is a victim of tuberculosis, so it was ironic that she cancelled owing to bronchitis.

Close-up: Claire Ptak

Chez Panisse couldn't hold on to this pastry chef. Can east London do better?

Reading 3 Burnley 2: Reading thrive on the Long strategy

In the end, Burnley's stubborn refusal to give up turned this poorly attended contest at the Madejski Stadium last night into a closely fought Cup tie, but for most of the evening Reading, including nine reserves, seemed to be coasting towards a trip to Newcastle United or Birmingham City in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Nabucco, Opera North, Leeds Town Hall

Egypt looking good. Apart from the man with the stick
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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