All the world's a wobbly set

Actors get stroppy with them. Singers fall off their sets. Audiences are confused by them. And directors steal their thunder. Who'd be a stage designer? John Gunter, for one. By Michael Church

RADIO: A finger pointing the way towards hope

A fog descends on my brain when words like 'molecule' and 'hydrocarbon' emerge from the radio

SIX GOOD POP CDS

Oasis: (What's the Story?) Morning Glory (Creation) Frightful oiks often make good rock records. QED.

Classical Music: Replay

Strauss: Don Quixote Lalo: Cello Concerto Jacqueline du Pre (cello), New Philharmonia / Boult; Cleveland Orchestra / Barenboim

True period performance

Opera: ARIANNA; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

All you need to know about the books you meant to read; This week: Don Quixote by Cervantes (1605 & 1615)

Plot: Initially the novel is a parody of chivalric romances and reflects their episodic structure. The story is relayed by two narrators whose versions of events sometimes conflict.

Dance: ROYAL SWEDISH BALLET London Coliseum

For its London debut, the Royal Swedish Ballet has chosen the light, bright fare that is Rudolf Nureyev's production of Don Quixote. With its unwieldy narrative bolstered by bravura divertissements and the cheap thrill of Minkus's hummable tunes, Don Quixote is the kind of ballet that exists mainly as a showcase for an attractive pair of lovers - in this case, Kitri and Basilio. The Don's dual cruel affliction of pride and maladroitness is evident in every wooden but genuine gesture of chivalry, but it is the hazardous passage of Kitri and Basilio's courtship that forms the ballet's central theme and allows it to culminate in a wedding celebration which remains in full, glorious swing as the curtain descends.

DANCE

Choice

Desperate laughter

The hostage crisis was coming to a head, things were looking grim, and what does Malcolm Bradbury do? He heads for the hills, and an international `conference' on comedy. Well, you've got to laugh

Touching on a sensitive subject : Washington Days

Martin Fierro, the fictional gaucho who is to Argentina what Don Quixote is to Spain, had wise counsel for someone in my predicament. "When you wander in foreign lands you must be serene and prudent."

CLASSICAL MUSIC / Lost Russians sing Wexford

Wexford is a bleak Irish town with a basic theatre, persistent rain and an annual opera festival. If this served up Traviatas and Butterflys, you wouldn't make the journey. But Wexford digs into the bottom drawer of the opera cabinet and pulls out things you'd never hear elsewhere - such as Anton Rubinstein's The Demon, which opened this year's festival on Thursday.

OPERA / A dastardly Don: Don Quixote, ENO

ENO is to be congratulated on bringing Massenet's opera back to London for the first professional staging since 1912. The work itself has great charms and deserves to be more widely known.

Centrefold: The trouser foshow: Don Quixote given the neo-flamenco touch at the ENO

What exactly does a costume designer do? With fashion designers like Jasper Conran turning their hands to theatre, the issue has become very confused. Deirdre Clancy is very clear that it's not just a question of running up glamorous frocks. 'A fashion designer comes up with a series of garments for a person to choose. A costume designer has to create and express characters through clothes. You're working on a text. It's an intellectual and interpretive process as well as a purely technical and artistic one.'

GOING OUT / Opera: Massenet performance of frills and windmills

SOME works are ignored with good reason, but the neglect of Massenet's opera Don Quixote is hard to justify. It was the hottest ticket in Paris when it premiered in 1910, and in London two years later. Its second London production opens this week, after a gap of 82 years, at ENO.

BOOKS / Classic Thoughts: The fair maiden of Penge: Hugo Barnacle on Thomas Malory's down-to-earth Arthurian tales

CONTINENTALS read Don Quixote, not incorrectly, as a satire on the tales of Arthurian chivalry that held medieval Europe in thrall. The British merely read it as a comic study of a certain romantically deluded character type. This is not so much because we take the Arthurian legends seriously, but more because our own best-known versions of them, the ones written by Sir Thomas Malory while he was imprisoned for fighting on the wrong side in the Wars of the Roses, are down-to-earth in a way the Continental ones are not. They do little to deserve or reward satirical attention.
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'