Arts and Entertainment In rehearsal: the Don is sung in Kasper Holten's new production by the Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien

As the Royal Opera opens its new Don Giovanni, Jessica Duchen argues that its theme of moral vacuity is as relevant now as in Mozart's day

Don Giovanni, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Jonathan Kent sees the prime challenge of ‘Don Giovanni’ as being to find a way to ‘give its hero a life’, since his mix of charm and demonic psychopathy is entirely unexplained: he wants it to be clear that this is the first time the Don has killed, and that it’s murder rather than libertinage which sends him to hell. Kent’s thesis worked well when the show was unveiled last year, thanks to Gerald Finley’s charisma in the role, but the production was in some ways problematic.

No black tie, no tea-towels on heads – meet the populisers

The men behind the rise and rise of Opera Holland Park are proud of their diverse repertoire – and their diverse audience. Anna Picard reports

Malcolm Smith

Further to the obituary of Malcolm Smith (11 March), during the interval of Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland's 2006 performance in Cadogan Hall, I found a morose, pessimistic Malcolm reflecting blackly on the decayed state of the London musical world as he knew it, writes Robert Maycock. Not a hint of optimism from anybody listening went unchallenged.

Hallé Orchestra / Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

The connection between Verdi’s Overture to Luisa Miller and Mozart’s G major Piano Concerto No.17 may not immediately have been apparent but a few pages of both quickly pointed up operatic common ground. The curtain was duly raised on two very distinct and vivid dramas.

Deadly divas: The baddest, sexiest women in opera

As Anna Nicole takes centre stage, Mark Pappenheim charts lust, adultery and even murder among the femme fatales

Dame Margaret Price: Opera singer noted for her tonal splendour and celebrated for her Mozart and Verdi interpretations

The Welsh soprano Margaret Price had one of the most beautiful voices of thesecond half of the 20th century. Lustrous in tone and smooth-textured, it was also extremely flexible – her trill was quite amazing – and perfectly graduated from a thread of sound to a full-blooded forte. In the earlier part of her career she wasfamous for her singing of Mozart, but as her voice grew in power, without losing its beauty, she widened her repertory to take on certain roles by Verdi and Richard Strauss. Always conscious of the dramatic importof whatever she was singing, whether German Lieder or Italian opera,Price never sacrificed words to sheer tonal splendour.

Do we really need to sex up opera?

A new production about Anna Nicole Smith and the arrival of 3D broadcasts aim to widen the appeal of an art form that is perceived as elitist.

Mozart Unwrapped, OAE/Bevan/Bezuidenhout/Cohen, Kings Place

Having just praised the Wigmore Hall for bravely flying the flag during most schedulers’ dead-time at Christmas, I must now give a similar accolade to London’s new chamber venue in the wilds of Kings Cross – Kings Place.

April: Take a hike across the Channel Islands

Where to go, what to do in 2011

Radio 3 clears its schedules for 12 days of Mozart

BBC Radio 3 is to dedicate its entire schedule to the works of Mozart for almost two weeks.

ENO under fire for 'Don Giovanni' rape scene

It is the story of an immoral Lothario, a tale which begins with sexual violence and ends with divine justice. You'd have thought seasoned opera-goers would be well prepared for the exploits of Don Giovanni. But that hasn't stopped a new production from being accused of "shock tactics" by suggesting scenes involving gang rape.

David Lister: We shouldn't be horrified by a change of direction

Prepare to be shocked if you go to the English National Opera at the moment. In Don Giovanni there is a gang rape by a group of masked men wearing Jesus Christ T-shirts. In a new opera, A Dog's Heart, there are four-letter words. Down the road at the Royal Opera House the recent production of Rigoletto included rape, oral and anal sex and much else that Verdi never envisaged.

Don Giovanni, Coliseum, London<br/>Spira Mirabilis, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

In his opera debut, director Rufus Norris offers a lothario implausibly making up for lost love with serial affairs

Mozart, Don Giovanni, English National Opera

In one respect at least Rufus Norris' new ENO production of Don Giovanni might truthfully be described as electrifying.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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