The Magic Flute, Royal Opera House

After the epic inanities of Mike Figgis’s cinematic take on ‘Lucrezia Borgia’ at the Coliseum - whose only saving grace was a trio of superb voices - it was sweet relief to encounter David McVicar’s ‘Magic Flute’ at Covent Garden. McVicar may have his own way of going over the top, but in this classic production, now in its third revival, he doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Do we really need to sex up opera?

A new production about Anna Nicole Smith and the arrival of 3D broadcasts aim to widen the appeal of an art form that is perceived as elitist.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera House

Those umbilically-joined directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier don’t always hit the spot – their ‘Hansel und Gretel’ is a queasy concoction – but when they do, the results are glorious, and never more so than with their take on Rossini’s ‘Il barbiere di Siviglia’, now back for its second revival.

Giselle, Royal Opera House, London

Acosta is superb, but there's a new star snapping at his heels

Hänsel und Gretel, Royal Opera House, London

A fairy-tale ending for stroppy kids, ranting parents, and squirrels

Les Patineurs, Royal Opera House, London

Snow is falling, this time on stage. Frederick Ashton's ballet Les Patineurs shows skaters at play, showing off or slipping on the ice. When the snow starts to fall, they react as people do react: they look up, reach out to touch it, rush into a new round of activity, a whirl of movement.

Tannh&#228;user, Royal Opera House, London<br/>The Bach Pilgrimage, Cadogan Hall, London

A difficult opera is sumptuously sung and lavishly staged, but why were there so many chairs?

Faeries, Royal Opera House, London

In Will Tuckett's family show, the faeries are the puppets of Blind Summit Theatre, with delicate wild faces and slender or cuddly limbs. When they were carried through the foyer afterwards, children came crowding up to watch.

Wagner, Tannhäuser, Royal Opera House, London

To ravish the senses or feed the soul? That is the question. And although Wagner posed it knowing full well that its significance would resonate through the ages – and no more so than now – he also knew, as a man of the theatre, that in the right hands we his audiences might have it both ways.

Rufus to reign at the Royal Opera House

Rufus Wainwright is to become the first pop artist to take upresidency at the Royal Opera House in London.

Adriana Lecouvreur, Royal Opera House, London<br/>Kafka Fragments, Barbican Hall, London

The loves and losses of theatre people and their circle swirl through the Puccini-lite music of a rarely seen opera in an opulent new production

Adriana Lecouvreur, Royal Opera House, London

It’s more than a century since Covent Garden last staged Francesco Cilea’s ‘Adriana Lecouvreur’, and the reason they’re doing it now – for astronomical seat prices – is glaringly obvious.

First Night: Adriana Lecouvreur, Royal Opera House, London

Two titanic talents bring star quality to a tale about dangers of fame

Sylvia, Royal Opera House, London

Frederick Ashton's Sylvia is a frilly mythological ballet with a delightful Delibes score and a cast including everything from gods to ceremonial goats. The Royal Ballet's production is a sumptuous recreation of the 1952 original, but needs more authority behind the trimmings.

David Lister: More tours are the answer &ndash; not a Manchester base

So the arts cuts have claimed their first victim. The Royal Opera House's grandiose plan to open a northern outpost in Manchester bites the dust. It goes to show that the cuts, worrying as they are, can also be an opportunity for sound common sense.

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