i Father Christmas, annual giftgiver

Not a regular in the public eye this one.

Debrief: Tom Randle’s Captain, left, and Leigh Melrose as the titular anti-hero in Wozzeck

Classical review: Wozzack, The Helmand years

ENO's new production of Berg's 1925 opera draws parallels with servicemen's lives in Afghanistan

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

'Dancers: Behind the Scenes with the Royal Ballet' is published by Oberon Books on 2 April

All smiles with Carlos and company's peep show

The Russian dancer Andrej Uspenski who is a First Artist at the Royal Ballet began taking photographs of his colleagues about two years ago. Now his coffee-table book of photographs, Dancers: Behind the Scenes with the Royal Ballet, which is published next month, gives an insider's view of the Royal Ballet.

Ava June (right): Lyric soprano equally at home with Britten, Wagner and Italian romantic opera

Ava June: Lyric soprano equally at home with Britten, Wagner and Italian romantic opera

Her portrayal of Tosca in the 1970s was described by one critic as 'valiant and touching'

Van Cliburn: Piano virtuoso who helped thaw US-Soviet relations

New York reserves its tickertape parades for returning heroes – and in 1958 America had no greater hero than a young concert pianist from Texas named Van Cliburn. That spring he had travelled to Moscow to take part in the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition, an event intended to showcase Russian superiority in classical music. And, against every rational probability of that Cold War era, Cliburn won.

Nao Sakuma as Princess Badr Al Budur and Cesar Morales as Aladdin

Aladdin, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham

“But it isn’t Christmas,” was the response when I mentioned Birmingham Royal Ballet’s shiny new production of Aladdin

Tatyana, Barbican Theatre, London

Tatyana, Barbican Theatre, London

In Deborah Colker’s danced version of the Eugene Onegin story, multiple Tatyanas yearn for half a dozen Onegins, while scrambling over the branches of a giant tree. The acrobatics often blur the ideas. Colker’s dancers are fearless, but the risks aren’t always expressive.

At a screen near you: The Last of the Haussmans, live from the NT

Event cinema: live screenings of opera and ballet are the British new wave

Today's blockbusters are more likely to be live screenings of opera or ballet than the latest Hollywood movie. Jonathan Owen reports

Boneless: Serpent, a new work by Liam Scarlett for BalletBoyz: The Talent

Dance review: BalletBoyz: The Talent - Welcome to the muscle bank

Bodies honed for heavy industry strut like Greek gods, while a cruel young cad reforms too late

Onegin, Royal Opera House, London

John Cranko’s Onegin feels like the ballet-of-the-opera, a watered-down version of a stronger story.

The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Scottish Ballet’s Nutcracker is a deliberate step away from Christmas sugar. There’s a cartoon edge to Antony McDonald’s designs, while choreographer Ashley Page is determined to make the story darker, even when that goes against the grain of Tchaikovsky’s score. A bright company performance adds a lot of warmth and sparkle.

Reverie, Lucy Parham, Henry Goodman, Wigmore Hall, London

Pianist Lucy Parham is practiced at presenting composers’ lives in words and music with the aid of actors, and Debussy is her latest. Not such an easy nut to crack as Schumann – no equivalent of the Robert-and-Clara household diaries – but as a letter-writer Debussy held forth with an engaging blend of pride and prejudice, hedonism and misanthropy.

Isabelle van Keulen, Brautigam, Wigmore Hall, London

Violinist Isabelle van Keulen is one of Holland’s most gifted chamber players, while the Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam is world-famed for his mastery of the fortepiano, and their joint recital aroused great expectations.

Starry night: English National Ballet’s sparkling Nutcracker

IoS dance review: English National Ballet, Coliseum, London

Stay focused, guys! The boss has got her tutu on …

Last night's viewing - Imagine: A Beauty Is Born – Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, BBC1; Wartime Farm Christmas, BBC2

There are few choreographers who have dared to do what Matthew Bourne has done. Who could have envisaged an all-male corps de ballet in Swan Lake at a time when it caused no small measure of outrage?

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
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
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