Arts and Entertainment In rehearsal: the Don is sung in Kasper Holten's new production by the Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien

As the Royal Opera opens its new Don Giovanni, Jessica Duchen argues that its theme of moral vacuity is as relevant now as in Mozart's day

Yoshikazu Jumei (***); Christian Ihle Hadland (*****), Wigmore Hall, London

Yoshikazu Jumei rarely gives piano recitals in the West, and the Wigmore was packed with a largely Japanese audience, due no doubt to the fact that the proceeds would go towards helping the victims of the 2011 tsunami.  

Fascinating: Janina Fialkowska

Janina Fialkowska, Royal Philharmonic, Gabel
Cadogan Hall, London

Since the Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska returned to the stage three years ago after a long time out, her story has earned her legendary status.

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Harvey Milk at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978

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Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus in this still image taken from video

Army was the target audience of President's theatre at the opera house

The message for Syrians was clear: the army is the bedrock of power

The BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Review of 2012: Classical

Northern Ireland Opera toured with the unsettling adaptation of the Henry James ghost story, and Simon Rattle thrilled us again

Oleg Marshev (***) and Tra Nguyen (****),
Wigmore Hall, London

Prokofiev’s ‘Visions fugitives’ are popular these days, so the Melodya label’s newly-released archive recording of the composer playing these piano miniatures comes à propos, and it also shows how wide of the mark most contemporary performances are.

<p>1. Church of St Peter and St Paul, Guildford, Surrey</p>
<p>23 December, free, 01483 202594</p>
<p>Wrap up warm to hear the carols in this ancient church. Mulled wine and mince pies should help to keep you toasty, though.</p>

The 10 Best carol services

From candlelit concerts to the famous King’s College Choir, we pick the best of this year’s celebrations of song

British children should learn about Christianity - it's our history

Christianity is part of our history so should be taught to children - it's not indoctrination.

Andras Schiff, Wigmore Hall, ****/ Behzod Abduraimov, Queen Elizabeth Hall, *****

There’s no definitive way to play Beethoven’s piano sonatas: there’s an infinite number, as befits this New Testament of classical pianism. Daniel Barenboim’s way, in his Southbank cycle four years ago, may not have been flawless, but it was utterly beguiling.

Schubert Ensemble, Capucon, ***/ Montero, ****

Private patronage was always the trigger for the composition of classical music, and it’s good to know the system is still alive and well: George Law decided to celebrate his 80th birthday by commissioning a piano quintet from Jonathan Dove.

Francesco Piemontesi,***** / Connolly, Guimaraes, OAE, Cohen, ****

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Mozart or Skrillex? There shouldn't be any competition

Arguments about what kind of music is best, what will survive the test of time, miss the point

Don Giovanni, Mozart, Opera North, Grand Theatre, Leeds

Despite its origins in Spanish legend, Spain is not important to Mozart’s and da Ponte’s Don Giovanni. So the placing of the story in the context of the early 1960s in Alessandro Talevi’s new production for Opera North is non-controversial.

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