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

Purcell aria is voted UK's favourite

An aria by Henry Purcell has beaten more famous pieces to be voted the nation's favourite. "When I Am Laid In Earth", from Dido And Aeneas, Purcell's only fully sung stage work and one of the earliest English operas, beat pieces from Mozart, Wagner and Puccini in a poll for BBC Radio 3.

Purcell Aria is nation's favourite

England today triumphed over greats from Germany, Italy and the rest of the world - in a search for the nation's favourite aria.

Album: Boccherini Symphonies/London Mozart Players (Chandos)

Luigi Boccherini spent much of his career arriving in cities just as the spark of creativity had moved elsewhere.

Album: London Chamber Orchestra, Rossini/Mozart/Beethoven (Signum Classics)

This third volume in the "LCO Live" series is a programme loosely connected by the theme of betrayed women, opening with the overture to Rossini's La Scala Di Seta and concluding with Beethoven's concert aria "Ah! Perfido", with three pieces by Mozart sandwiched between, including two arias from Le Nozze Di Figaro. Susan Gritton's delivery of the three arias has an exquisite balance of grace and intensity befitting their spurned heroines, while the LCO's presentation of Mozart's Symphony No 1 and the later Adagio and Fugue in C minor vividly illustrates the composer's growth, from the shallow enthusiasm of the symphony to the darker, troubled terrain of the fugue.

Observations: Aleksandra Kurzak steps into Cecilia Bartoli's slippers

It takes a bold woman to step into Cecilia Bartoli's slippers as the sexually voracious heroine in a production of Il Turco in Italia created expressly for her, but Aleksandra Kurzak is unfazed. "I don't think about comparisons at all," says the feisty Polish singer. "And in any case, she is a mezzo and I am a soprano, so it will be completely different." Ever since Placido Domingo singled her out in his Operalia festival 10 years ago, she's been topping the bill wherever she goes, but the secret of her confidence goes much further back.

Observations: Glyndebourne gets down with the kids

With wounded soldiers shipped in to Covent Garden by the egregious Joanna Lumley, and the idiocies of Popstar to Operastar giving way to Kiri Te Kanawa's X Factor-style search for talent on Radio 2, one might think that the campaign to widen opera's audience has been hijacked by showbiz. But that would be to discount the heroic work done by opera-company education departments, and above all by their brand-leaders at Glyndebourne. Since 1990, Glyndebourne's head of education, Katie Tearle, has presided over a series of brilliant events in which local children have been induced to put on operas dealing with subjects that are as near the knuckle today as the rough-trade exploits of Don Giovanni were for 18th-century Vienna.

David Lister: The ICA has lost its cutting edge

Whatever the allegations of fear and loathing in Downing Street, Gordon Brown must in his darkest hours take comfort from the fact that he does not run the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Knight Crew, Glyndebourne

With wounded soldiers shipped in to Covent Garden by the egregious Joanna Lumley, and the idiocies of ‘Popstar to Operastar’ giving way to Kiri Te Kanawa’s X-Factor search for talent on Radio 2, one might think that the campaign to widen opera’s audience has been terminally hijacked by showbiz.

Album: Gautier Capuçon, Valery Gergiev, Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme; Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante (Virgin Classics)

The pairing of Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme with Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante is not uncommon but I'm not convinced it plays to Gautier Capuçon's strengths.

Othello, Argyle Works, Birmingham<br/>
Total Immersion: George Crumb, Barbican Hall, London

Ronald Samm signals the end of blacking-up to sing Othello, while a celebration fails to do justice to George Crumb

They stood and clapped...for 20 minutes

Even La Scala's notoriously particular audience held their boos as Domingo said goodbye to Milan

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

Album: Bryn Terfel, Bad Boys (Deutsche Grammophon)

As a bass-baritone, Bryn Terfel regularly has to wear the metaphorical black hat in the standard operatic value-system, so this anthology of great bad-guy roles, from Iago and Mephistopheles to Sweeney Todd and Mack The Knife, is custom-built to showcase his dark, brooding qualities.

Haunting: ENO revive 'The Turn of the Screw'

A revival of Benjamin Britten's spine-chilling adaptation of Henry James's 'The Turn of the Screw', by English National Opera, opens next week. Jessica Duchen is haunted by the power of ghost stories set to music

Ian Wallace: Bass baritone celebrated for his 'buffo' roles &ndash; and for his rendition of 'The Hippopotamus Song'

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.

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