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Album: Kaija Saariaho, L'Amour De Loin, Harmonia Mundi

Kaija Saariaho's first opera will surely become one of the emblematic works of the decade, its theme of cross-cultural relationships holding up a mirror to our own atomised, divided times.

Observations: Tête à Tête's Lite Bites provide little voyages and big discoveries

As the company that pioneered the 15-minute opera form, and scored a world first by staging an opera inside a zorb ball, Tête à Tête has always been at the cutting edge. For its 2009 festival, one of its strands, Lite Bites, will take place in streets, Tube stations and local parks.

Cyclotherapy: Road to Ventoux - Top of the World

He was lying flat out on his back, his bike by his side, about halfway up Mont Ventoux. I was put in mind of a medieval knight, fallen in battle, memorialized in stone alongside his trusty steed. His eyes were closed and he actually looked quite content.

Recognition for medieval soldiers on web database

The service records of medieval soldiers have been made available in an online database.

One Minute With: Bidisha

A Time to Dance, a Time to Die, By John Waller

It is hard to imagine a more compulsive opening than Waller's vivid account of how, on 14 July 1518, Frau Troffea of Strasbourg began a violent, joyless dance that continued for six days. Even more oddly, she infected others with the same bewildering malady.

Clean, By Katherine Ashenburg

For much of post-medieval history, the East scrubbed and the West stank. The twain met one early 18th-century day, when the "notoriously grubby" traveller Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had to shed her stays in the women's baths in Turkey.

Andrew Keen: Digital feudalism

I'm in London this week. Tonight I recorded a programme for the BBC tv show "It's Only A Theory" hosted by the comedians Andy Hamilton and Reginald D. Hunter.

Making a Living in the Middle Ages, By Christopher Dyer

A work of medieval economic history may not sound the most riveting read but Dyer's erudite, sweeping account of Britain's finances between 850 and 1520 turns out to be endlessly fascinating and often relevant to our own plight. As Dyer remarks, economic history is "the only branch of history which gives pride of place to the whole population".

Forgotten Authors No.27: Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is not entirely out of print but, for someone who was one of the most popular writers in the country, she has fallen into a strange and rather airless niche market. Heyer was a literary phenomenon who wrote bestsellers throughout her career, without ever giving an interview or making any kind of public appearance. A recluse in her private life, she was driven to communicate with her readers through a series of light Regency romances for which she had scant regard, saying only that "I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense". Her novels received no critical acclaim, but sold so well that her name alone was enough to guarantee success. In total, 51 novels, short story collections and mysteries were published, appearing at a rate of one or more a year throughout her life.

Faintheart (12a)

A British underdog comedy of no great distinction.

A Secret Alchemy, By Emma Darwin

A rousing War of the Roses tale that fails to bloom

Chivalry and carnage: After decades of neglect, medieval themes are more popular than ever

Two weeks ago, as swift and sure as an arrow fired from an English longbow, a novel about the battle of Agincourt shot to number one in the hardback fiction chart. Nicholas Hook, the latest of Bernard Cornwell's protagonists to take up arms, stands in a long line of fictional Englishmen marching off to have a crack at the French. Just as Richard Sharpe, the hero of Cornwell's prodigiously successful series of novels set in the Napoleonic wars, owed much to CS Forester's Hornblower, so does Hook have an even more venerable pedigree.

Preview: East Neuk Festival, various venues, East Neuk, Fife

Medieval music with a modern soul

Jousting: 'Chivalrous' jousters keep damsels at bay

It was the first sport of kings: where the medieval knight could make his fortune or lose his life with a single horseback charge and the thrust of a lance. And now it's back.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
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