Six hour opera with real helicopters and a dancing camel to premiere in Birmingham

Members of a string quartet have clambered aboard four helicopters to practise ahead of the world premiere of an opera which features an airborne performance and a dancing camel.

Plácido Domingo's Operalia Winners, Royal Opera House, London

Opera isn’t really Olympic, because a prize is just the start. A great singer grows, matures, transforms – and three generations of vocal giants arrived at Covent Garden, ready to prove it.

Observations: A vocal athlete's new workout

"I stopped because I felt that I wasn't able to deliver the performances I had been able to before," says the opera star Sally Burgess who retired in 2010. "Singers are vocal athletes and so I stopped before I wasn't good enough."

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.

Album: Al Ayre Español Handel's Memories: A Selection from Grand Concertos Op 6 (Challenge Classics)

Handel composed his Grand Concertos Op 6 in affectionate emulation of Corelli's Concerti Grossi Op 6 from a quarter-century earlier; and, astonishingly, completed all 12 within a single month, thanks to liberal quoting from his previous work.

Verdi Otello, Royal Opera House, London

It is the most resplendent of vocal fanfares that brings Otello to the stage in Verdi’s wonderful opera and Aleksandrs Antonenko - the latest in a most distinguished lineage (including Vickers and Domingo) to have strode into the tempest-tossed opening of Elijah Moshinsky’s ageless staging - at once raised the temperature in the house cleaving the air with his trumpet-toned delivery.

The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, Cape Town Opera, London Coliseum

Behind poster images of iconic black crusaders - from Nelson Mandela to Steve Biko - the township that is Catfish Row is revving up for another day. And such is the pumping dynamism of the Cape Town Opera ensemble that you can barely hear George Gershwin’s tumultuous xylophone-driven prelude for the hollering and whistling.

Stockhausen took 26 years to write his 'Light' cycle

Heads Up: Wednesday from Light

Opera aims sky high with 150 performers and four helicopters

Paul Heaton Presents The 8th, Barbican, London


“You looked confused at some points,” amiably admits Paul Heaton after overseeing his confusing and long-winded soul opera, The 8th.

Bryn Fest, Royal Festival Hall, London

There could be no Bryn Fest (Terfel, that is) without show tunes. But the spectacle of the great Welsh bass-baritone arriving on stage sporting a wrap-around "Madonna" mic is not one I care to repeat in a hurry. He wasn’t alone, of course, but such ugly, obtrusive, devices had no place in The Golden Age of Broadway where the great and the good somehow managed without them - and even in the age of radio head-mics adequate amplification can generally be managed with a high degree of invisibility. This wasn’t the O2 Arena, it was the Royal Festival Hall. So why?

Luke Blackall: Let's hear it for Damon's unsafe bets

Man About Town: Albarn and Norris's opera is a revelation, and a refreshing change from the norm

The Emperor's New Clothes: The Italians

The Italians who face England tonight think they are better dressed, better fed, better lovers. Simmy Richman begs to differ

Everybody's Talking About: Billy Budd, ENO, London

Today's hot ticket

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.

Amar Muchhala as Mo

Song of the suicide bomber

An opera about British terrorists planning an attack? Arifa Akbar asks the creators of 'Babur in London' how they negotiated a cultural minefield

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