La Traviata, Coliseum, London

We were promised surprises in Peter Konwitschny’s ‘La Traviata’, and the first comes at the start.

Album review: Oliver Knussen, Britten: The Rape of Lucretia (Virgin Classics)

Though expertly performed by a cast that includes Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton as the Male and Female Chorus, and Angelika Kirchschlager as the hapless Lucretia, there's not an awful lot to love about The Rape of Lucretia.

Opera Holland Park, London.

Michael Volpe: ‘I want us to put on an opera – and in we plunge’

The first of a monthly report from Michael Volpe on the trials of staging a show

When a wet tenor wowed Woody Allen

The director made him sing in the shower, Fabio Armiliato tells Jessica Duchen

Oswald 'not lone gunman,' says Robert F Kennedy Jnr

Robert F Kennedy Jnr is convinced a lone gunman was not solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, John F Kennedy, and said his father was disparaging about the official report into the killing.

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

IoS classical preview of 2012: Plan ahead to catch composers' anniversaries, rarities and evergreens

As the Southbank Centre braces itself for a year of Noise (see feature, page 58), and opera-lovers contemplate a feast of Britten, Verdi and Wagner, lutenist Paul O'Dette explores the melancholy and wit of 450-year-old John Dowland on Thursday at London's Wigmore Hall. Kasper Holten directs Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House from 4 February, Welsh National Opera enters a new era as Lulu opens at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, on 8 February, and Scottish Opera pays a belated centenary tribute to Massenet with Pia Furtado's production of Werther at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, from 15 February.

One To Watch: Corinne Winters, opera singer, 29

"I love rock, but I'm definitely meant to be in the opera world", says the American soprano who will make her European debut next month singing the female lead in ENO's La Traviata.

Page 3 Profile: Stephen Hawking, physicist

Another incredible discovery for the world famous scientist?

Aleksandra Kurzak

Review of 2012: Classical

A 3D cinema version of Swan Lake will be aired live

London Symphony Orchestra director takes sides with Putin against Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot’s Moscow church protest, which resulted in a two-year prison sentence for members of the punk group, was motivated by a desire to create controversy to boost their careers, Russia’s leading conductor has suggested.

Behind the scenes: Royal Opera House’s High House

The only way is opera! Essex gets a cultural boost

The arts are flourishing in Thurrock, despite the town being voted the most miserable in Britain this year

Another fight at the opera as La Scala puts Verdi behind Wagner

Controversy is never far away from The Scala and its season opener

Italians upset by La Scala's decision to kick off season with German composer Wagner and not local hero Verdi

Richard Wagner's Lohengrin kicks off La Scala's season on Friday with the renowned Milanese theatre under fire for choosing the German maestro over local hero Giuseppe Verdi on the biggest night of the year for the world of opera.

IoS album review: Scott Walker, Bish Bosch (4AD)

The imperative to make it easy on yourself is one which Walker shows no signs of obeying. Bish Bosch, the latest in a series of challenging and experimental works from the former 1960s balladeer, throws the listener right in at the deep end with "See You Don't Bump His Head", on which, over a low but insistent digital beat, Walker intones lines such as "While plucking feathers from a swan song, shit might pretzel Christ's intestines". The sun, very clearly, ain't gonna shine any more.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
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The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on