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
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 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before