Arts and Entertainment

Last autumn Helene Grimaud released a fine recording of Brahms’ piano concertos under the baton of Andris Nelsons: to hear them perform the second concerto live with the Philharmonia Orchestra was to realise anew what a superb symbiosis they can achieve.

Prom 9: Barenboim/West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, London

Audacious, perhaps, to lure an audience of thousands with promises of Beethoven, then let Pierre Boulez steal the show. Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra placed Boulez’s Dérive 2, a work for 11 musicians that lasts for 50 unbroken minutes, at the core of the first evening of its complete Beethoven symphonies cycle. The result: a revelation.

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.

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.

'Ow 'Liza and the BBC Proms is doing 'My Fair Lady'?

Eliza Doolittle will screech in Cockney and sing posh as the quintessential London musical "My Fair Lady", a product of the Broadway stage, makes its BBC Proms debut on Saturday in a lavish production that owes a debt to Hollywood.

Le nozze di Figaro, Gylndebourne, East Sussex
East Neuk Festival, East Neuk, Fife

Figaro and I renew our vows, for one night only

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?

Tom Hodgkinson: 'Do women consider the ukulele sexy?'

Twitter is a terrible distraction for writers and journalists. The deadline is hanging over you and all you can do is waste time scrolling through hundreds of unsatisfying attempts at aphoristic wit.

Sounds Venezuela, Southbank Centre, London

Classical music has never enjoyed a more successful a marketing campaign than that promoting Gustavo Dudamel, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and the proliferation of Jose Antonio Abreu’s visionary Sistema.

Rapt audience: Bernard Haitink tutors Gad Kadosh

Bernard Haitink: A maestro passes on his baton to the next generation

It's tough to make it as a conductor – so when 20 young stars were asked to perform for the great Bernard Haitink, the pressure was on.  reports

London 2012 Festival performers to receive special assistance to avoid delays at immigration

Performers taking part in the largest cultural festival Britain has ever staged, which launches on Thursday to mark the Olympic Games, will receive special assistance to avoid delays at immigration.

Billy Budd, English National Opera, London

The sight of Kim Begley's old and broken Captain Vere silently mouthing Billy Budd's death sentence as it is read out in the final scene of Britten's opera will be one of the enduring images of David Alden’s new English National Opera production.

The Queen of Spades, Grange Park, Hampshire
Così fan tutte, Holland Park, London

This impressive staging of Tchaikovsky's opera manages to be both playful, and deadly serious

La Bohème, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Glyndebourne

More Basildon than Bastille, David McVicar’s grungy staging of La Bohème heralded the new millennium amidst concrete and steel, fire hazards and fire escapes, chavs and chav nots, bringing our “bohemians” into the here and now with a cynical nod or two at our own struggling youth culture and the slightly surreal sensation of stepping in from tea at Glyndebourne’s Mildmay room to an urban jungle where the only splash of colour is a street poster for Bohème in, naturally, the style of the art nouveau period.

Opening ceremony orchestra is silenced

Musicians in the London Symphony Orchestra will have to mime their performance in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics because a live performance is deemed too risky.

Turkish pianist Fazil Say charged over Islam 'insult'

An internationally known Turkish pianist and composer has been charged with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.

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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