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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