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.

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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links