Don Giovanni

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.

Independent Classical: Rene Jacobs podcast

Rene Jacobs: singer, conductor, scholar, archivist, alchemist, teacher. In recent years he's been "rehabilitating" the Mozart operas for the Harmonia Mundi label, eradicating 19th century retouchings and stylistic anomalies in order to restore these great works to their vibrant original colours.

Anthony Rolfe Johnson: British tenor who excelled in the works of

The British tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson was one of the finest exponents in his generation of the roles originally sung by Peter Pears in the operas of Benjamin Britten. However, his interpretations were in no way copies of the senior tenor's idiosyncratic versions; rather, they were recreations of the music that perfectly suited his own voice and style. His other favourite opera composers were Monteverdi and Mozart, while he sang the great Bach Passions and Handel oratorios throughout his career. As a recitalist he was a founder member of the Songmakers' Almanac and specialised in Schubert lieder and Britten's canticles. He also became an excellent conductor, especially of operas in which he had himself sung, such as Monteverdi's L'Orfeo.

Cesare Siepi: Opera singer celebrated for his portrayal of

The Italian bass Cesare Siepi was one of the finest exponents of Mozart's Don Giovanni to tread the opera stage in the second half of the 20th century. He sang the role 71 times in New York at the Metropolitan Opera; he sang it at La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Royal Opera House in London and many other places. He was also a powerful King Philip II in Don Carlos and sang at least eight or nine other of Verdi's rewarding bass roles. His range easily extended to Wagner, sung in Italian at La Scala and in German at the Met. His beautiful voice, strong, warm and supple, allied to good looks and a splendid stage presence, brought him a popularity that lasted throughout his long career.

Michael Haneke: Bleak house

Audiences going to see films directed by this studious Austrian have learnt to brace themselves. His latest may be the most unsettling of the lot

Ian Wallace: Bass baritone celebrated for his 'buffo' roles –

Opera singer and actor, broadcaster, writer, cabaret artist, compere and raconteur, Ian Wallace – a true Scot, and sometimes a kilted one – discovered quite early in his life that he had a talent for entertaining people. But his comprehensive success in this convivial activity was achieved despite what most people would regard as serious handicaps: he had no formal training as singer or actor; and he was critically ill, in his 20s, with testicular and spinal tuberculosis. That his father, the Dunfermline MP, Sir John Wallace, hoped that he would succeed at the Bar, did not make his path any the less problematic.

Overtures, arias and... tweets: The world's first Twitter opera

The libretto has been taken from the sublime to a ridiculous conclusion. Instead of a "little book" - its literal meaning – the latest, and most avant-garde, of operas will feature little "tweets". In a blatant attempt to shake off its fusty image, the Royal Opera House has teamed up with the micro-blogging site to produce The Twitter Opera with a libretto composed entirely of public tweets.

Robert Levin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

The Haydn season kicked off with the obligatory splurge on Radio 3, and a massed charge led by Andras Schiff at the Wigmore Hall, but the really interesting thing was what the musicologist and fortepianist Robert Levin was doing at the Southbank. We quite often hear the fortepiano in these period-conscious days, but, sandwiched between performances on modern instruments, it always ends up sounding thin and a little bit impotent – so attuned are our ears to the luxurious richness of the Steinway.

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