Arts and Entertainment Sir Kenneth Branagh plays Macbeth in a new production at MIF this July

Is this the country's new cultural capital I see before me?

Katherine Manley as Creusa;

Medea, Coliseum, London

David McVicar’s production of Charpentier’s Médée – or Medea, in Christopher Cowell‘s felicitously idiomatic translation – is the most brilliant show to have graced the Coliseum in years. It’s by turns bold and brash – how could it not be, given the tabloid luridness of its subject matter? – and it’s also irresistibly seductive, as befits one of French Baroque music’s most ravishing scores which, after three centuries, is getting its first professional British staging.

IoS classical preview of 2012: Plan ahead to catch composers' anniversaries, rarities and evergreens

As the Southbank Centre braces itself for a year of Noise (see feature, page 58), and opera-lovers contemplate a feast of Britten, Verdi and Wagner, lutenist Paul O'Dette explores the melancholy and wit of 450-year-old John Dowland on Thursday at London's Wigmore Hall. Kasper Holten directs Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House from 4 February, Welsh National Opera enters a new era as Lulu opens at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 8 February, and Scottish Opera pays a belated centenary tribute to Massenet with Pia Furtado's production of Werther at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, from 15 February.

Donose and Diegel in Bieito’s Carmen

IoS classical review: Carmen, Coliseum, London
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Huddersfield

Intense, lean, witty and stripped of cliché: a 'Carmen' worth the wait

Tony Hall

With Tony Hall appointed Director-General of the BBC, who will the ROH replace him with?

The Royal Opera House has lost a respected leader

Come as you are: ENO seeks a new audience by encouraging jeans and trainers and serving alcohol

Glyndebourne, this is not. Welcome to opera for the next generation; where jeans and trainers are encouraged, punters can drink in bars and the young audiences can even stick on their headphones if they do not like the music.

Damon Albarn wants you to undress for the Opera

Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Monty Python star Terry Gilliam have joined forces to encourage new audiences to go to the opera.

Flying High: Mr T with his trainer Anthony
Bloom

Where ravens dare...

Meet Mr T, the Hollywood veteran making his London debut in 'Dr Dee'

Derek Hammond-Stroud: Acclaimed baritone

The baritone Derek Hammond-Stroud was remarkably versatile, encompassing lieder and opera from Gilbert and Sullivan to Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Observations: The fabulous 'theatre without a director'

As an actor I have toured the world, but always with the hard shell of a play around me. Five years ago I was invited to travel to the Galapagos with my childhood acquaintance, the artist Dorothy Cross. We share zoologist brothers; they are friends and we were treading in their dream world, our strange symmetry!

Alice Babidge, costume designer for Caligula

Kermit the Frog joins the chorus – in 'Caligula'

New opera dresses characters as kids' favourites to portray citizens living in terror

Jakob Lenz, ENO/Hampstead Theatre, London

The poet Jakob Lenz (1751-1792) flashed like a shooting-star through the literary firmament, notable less for his output that for his bewitching personal charisma.

The Tales of Hoffmann is fantasy stuff

The German author E T A Hoffmann's imagination underpins some of the world's most popular and enduring operas, ballets, and even piano music. Yet few of the adaptations bear much resemblance to his originals. Indeed, the writer's absence from his own legacy is so striking that Richard Jones, the director of English National Opera's new production of The Tales of Hoffmann, has apparently recommended to his lead tenor, Barry Banks, that he need not read the tales by Hoffmann on which the opera is based.

The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne, Lewes

It's not only the narrative tension that turns on interlocking screws in Glyndebourne's production of Britten's claustrophobic masterpiece.

The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne

It’s not only the narrative tension that turns on interlocking screws in Glyndebourne’s production of Britten’s claustrophobic masterpiece.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz