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Götterdammerung, Longborough Festival Opera

There’s no such thing as "can’t" – and the proof is alive and well at Longborough Festival Opera. While lyric theatres around the world might quake at the prospect of staging Wagner’s Ring Cycle – the expense, the pressure, the “controversial productions” - a converted barn in the Cotswold countryside is simply getting on with it, opera by opera, building up to the complete tetralogy for next year’s Wagner bicentenary. Götterdammerung, its climax, is also its ultimate challenge.

Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War Two, By Keith

In his memoir If This is a Man, the Italian writer Primo Levi recalls that the most terrifying time for him at Auschwitz was not the years of incarceration by the Nazis, when beatings, hunger, back-breaking work and the threat of murder were omnipresent. He came closest to despair during the vacuum between the flight of the guards and the arrival of the Red Army. This period, in which the prisoners were effectively left to their own devices, was characterised by a complete breakdown of all authority, however unjust, as well as the system of supply. I was reminded of these passages when reading Keith Lowe's Savage Continent: an excellent account of the two years or so between the end of hostilities in Europe with the defeat of Hitler, and the establishment of the Cold War order.