Love is seldom simple in Wagner's operas. There is always a curse or a price, some impossible condition to be met, some sacrifice to be made. In Lohengrin ("the favourite opera of all sensitive ladies", according to one 19th-century critic), sensitive Elsa stands falsely accused of the murder of her brother, Gottfried. The dreamboat hero who arrives to defend Elsa's honour is quick to say those three little words that she longs to hear, and quick to march her to the altar to the lily-scented strains of Wagner's wedding anthem, with the proviso that she should never ask his name. Alas, Elsa has three little words of her own to say, burning like chili pepper on her sensitive tongue: who are you?
This unusual novel of art, solitude and imagination breaks the rules but creates a vision of its own
Flawless display of kicking from England legend leads Toulon to maiden Heineken Cup
A magnificent meditation on loss and political exile as a great Haitian writer returns home
In 1985 I worked for the Strand, New York’s most famous second-hand bookstore.
The Independent picture desk selects the best images from St Peter's Square
Journey with gritted teeth through hell and cold water
Theatre-goers are used to solicitous, nannying notices about strobe-lighting, nudity and even cigarette-smoking at the entrance to productions.
It’s been quite a journey, from Beethoven’s First Symphony to his Ninth in eight days. The Red Arrows even gave us a fly-past to celebrate at the end...
Programmes were not distributed until after the show, but you were handed a single sheet of white paper, blank except for one typed word – mine, somewhat dispiritingly, was "sock" – as you made your way into the Purcell Room for this European premiere of a short play by Don DeLillo.
Eddie Marsan, 43
Tim Burgess’s wild years were the stuff of Britpop legend. Here, the Charlatans’ frontman instructs Nick Duerden in the 10 golden rules of rock’n’roll excess
A rite of passage is important for many young people It's why I joined the Marines: to prove myself. But societies all over the world use this youthful angst to fight wars. You go to an area such as the Omo Valley, Ethiopia [where Parry stayed with the Nyangatom tribe], and the different tribes are essentially cousins who've developed a separate identity to fight for the scarce resources there. The elders play on the young men's sense of pride, wind them up and send them off on a killing spree. We do that in our society, too, albeit in a more civilized way.
A little bell is struck slowly, then a lower one, then the surrounding silence takes over.
First time for everything: we all know that variety is the spice of life. But what happened when we challenged four writers to explore their untapped potential?
Like most parents of small children, I was having major problems at bedtime. Things had gone from bad to worse: each night, my four-year-old refused to go to bed, and once she got there, was repeatedly getting up. The whole process could last as long as two hours, leaving us both frustrated and exhausted.