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
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?