Album review: Taverner Consort & Players, Monteverdi: L'Orfeo (Avie)

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Andrew Parrott and his Taverner Consort & Players have aptly chosen to record the first great operatic masterwork, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo.

Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883), German composer, conductor, critic and author, circa 1860.

Germany celebrates bicentennial of Richard Wagner

Germany today celebrated the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner, the 19th-century composer whose music has been hailed as sublime art at the height of Western culture even as he remains tainted by his visceral anti-Semitic views, which later found favour with the Nazis.

American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato leads the cast of La Donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House

La Donna del Lago at the Royal Opera House: Starry cast all set to make waves

Gioachino Rossini's La Donna del Lago (“The Lady of the Lake”), which has just opened at the Royal Opera House, is an operatic rarity of the first order – hardly ever performed, according to its director, John Fulljames, because its leading roles are so demanding. “You have to have the right constellation of stars to pull it off,” he says. “That only happens once in a generation.”

A recording studio in the garden: How creativity comes in shedloads

People like a shed – especially if they are creative. For writers it is often a peaceful bolt-hole.

Elena Zhidkova (Venus), Daniel Frank (Tannhäuser)

Controversial Nazi-themed staging of Wagner's Tannhäuser pulled because audiences 'forced to seek medical help' after watching

A controversial staging of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser set in a concentration camp during the Holocaust has been cancelled after it proved so shocking some audience-members were forced to seek medical help after watching.

Classical review: Verdi’s Ballo, King’s Head Theatre, London

The news that OperaUpClose were planning to stage Verdi’s A Masked Ball in an IKEA store did not sound promising, as we’d been there before. In 2009 Flatpack Opera made Wembley IKEA the venue and subject of a work whose audience was joined by bemused shoppers, not all of whom were keen to be plunged into an art event which began in the bedsit department and ended in kitchens. At least OperaUpClose were doing it in a kosher theatre.

Beach boy: Aldeburgh, where Benjamin Britten swam every morning

Heads Up: Britten in Aldeburgh

Grimeswatch: in the concert hall, on the beach, round town …

Floraleda Sacchi, Philip Glass: Metamorphosis (Amadeus Arte)

Album review: Floraleda Sacchi, Philip Glass: Metamorphosis (Amadeus Arte)

Floraleda Sacchi's harp lends itself particularly well to the minimalist logic of Philip Glass's progressions on this anthology of transpositions, never better than on the “Opening” from Glassworks, where the bass pulse beds beautifully among the mirroring figures of the theme.

Still from YouTube's most-watched video in the UK - 'Charlie bit my finger - again!'

YouTube's top five most-viewed videos in the UK, as the site turns eight

It's hard to believe it, but it's internet giant YouTube's eighth birthday today.

All ears: Michael Volpe’s daughter, Fiora

The birth of a new opera: Children know the score when it comes to songs

In his latest dispatch, Michael Volpe reveals how music is crucial to Alice

Star tenor Jonas Kaufmann

Classical review: Jonas Kaufmann, Philharmonia, Rieder, Royal Festival Hall, London

Verdi or Wagner? Posing the musical question of the year, tenor Jonas Kaufmann answers it by saying that he has vacillated between them, unable to decide whose music he prefers. He finally declares that they are mutually beneficial: "After singing Wagner you have an extra dose of power for the drama in Verdi, and after singing Verdi, it is much easier to sing Wagner, as the composer intended, with Italian legato." It was this latter course that he adopted at the Royal Festival Hall, backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jochen Rieder.

The Answer to Everything: When a house is not a home

The Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne have relayed live operas to cinemas. But for the first time next week, an opera will premiere at a London cinema.

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo to receive ceremonial Freedom of the City of London

Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo is in the UK today to receive the ceremonial Freedom of the City of London.

Classical review: Sunken Garden, Barbican, London

In Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell's collaboration with Michel van der Aa we neither know nor care what is going on - it is a work of remarkable arrogance

George Benjamin Day conducting

George Benjamin Day, Wigmore Hall, London

Ethnomusicologists are like bees, with melodies being the pollen they transfer from culture to culture. In the 1950s the great American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax went on a song-collecting trip to Italy, and brought back recordings of a wealth of music which is now mostly extinct.

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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee