Music: Tales of the more or less expected

ENO's new Tales of Hoffmann is a show that thinks big, looks big, fields big names, and addresses major points of musicology: a Company Statement if you ever saw one. And the input is impressive. But the output is equivocal: superb performances in need of a superb production, which they don't get from the stage director, Graham Vick.

DANCE: A Run for your money

After 30 years hard dance-making, you'd think that, like dear old Reggie Kray, they'd be thinking about giving Richard Alston time off for good behaviour - but he is still hard at it. His company's spring tour features several new works, including Red Run which receives its UK premiere in London on 4 March. ''There's a raunchy sound to the music [by Heiner Goebbels]. I've tried to make a piece that showed different aspects of the 10 individual dancers of the company."

The `castrato' with all his bits

The future is Baroque and bright for Brian Asawa, a counter-tenor from California. Nick Kimberley reports

Opening This Week: Opera

Snatched by the Gods/Broken Strings (Glasgow Theatre Royal, 0141 332 9000, Wed & Sat). Contemporary classic double bill by Anglo-Indian composer Param Vir.

People: Royal Opera director defects to the ENO

Nicholas Payne, director of the Royal Opera has defected to the English National Opera, where he will become general director. The move, predicted three weeks ago in The Independent, will be a blow to the Royal Opera House, only just recovering from a damning report by a House of Commons select committee. Indeed, the new ROH chairman, Sir Colin Southgate, said when he was appointed last month that he would not consider it to be a great start for him if Mr Payne left. Mr Payne had previously shown his disillusionment at Covent Garden, publicly describing remarks by former chairman Lord Chadlington about the opera company's finances as "bollocks".

Musical chairs as ENO make overtures to Payne

Nicholas Payne is being lined up to swap the Royal Opera for the English National Opera. Which will leave a Royal Opera vacancy. Then there's still Glyndebourne, and what about the South Bank Centre? David Lister predicts the results of a seemingly never-ending round of musical chairs.

Music: This is more like it, Royal Opera!

Of all the great relationships that never happened, few are so fascinating as a near-miss in the 1930s between two men who respectively became the leading English poet and composer of their time. The poet was Auden, who did all the running. The composer was Britten, who held back. And the evidence of what was going on survives in Auden's "Lay your sleeping head my love", which he scribbled down for Britten at a teatime assignation in a Lyons Corner House. Such was romance in pre-war London. Innocent but keen.

Letter: ROH budgets

ROH budgets

Letter: Royal Opera House

Sir: Tonight (3 December) the Royal Ballet represents the United Kingdom at the festivities marking the reopening of the Teatro Real in Madrid. From Friday the Royal Opera contributes to the Year of Opera and Music Theatre in East Anglia with performances of Britten's Paul Bunyan. Both events represent the essence, quality and range of the Royal Opera House and its performing companies.

Classical Review: A young man's journey

Ian Bostridge Sings

Culture: Opera House chief defiant as entire board agrees to resign

The chairman and board of the Royal Opera House resigned yesterday following a damning Commons report. But the chief executive told David Lister, Arts News Editor, that she will be staying put.

Leading Article: The Royal Opera is too important to leave to these amateurs

The overwhelming majority of the population cares not a tuppeny bit for opera and ballet, and therefore imagines the Covent Garden saga to be a distracting sideshow, of interest only to the effete and elite. They are wrong for two reasons. It matters, even to those who can't tell their Siegfried from their Sieglinde, because their money pays most of the bills. It also matters because the story shows how, for all the talk of Thatcher's handbags knocking the Establishment off its perch, important sectors of British life are still being run by back-scratching, self-regarding and more or less amateurish cliques. The management of opera matters because the arts matter, and this whole story bears all the symptoms of what has historically been wrong with arts management in Britain. Moreover, it matters because quality culture attracts visitors, esteem, creates jobs, and reflects and deepens the nation's sensibilities.

Arts & Media: Royal Opera chiefs face up to resignation calls

Royal Opera House chiefs will resist expected calls for their resignations when a House of Commons Select Committee publishes its report today. David Lister, Arts News Editor, finds the mood defiant at Covent Garden.

Proms manager moves to Royal Opera House

Judy Grahame, marketing manager of The Proms, has been appointed director of external relations at the Royal Opera House.

The Royal Opera - 2 for 1 ticket offer - Save up to pounds 75

The Independent and Independent on Sunday are giving you the opportunity to experience the opera. In association with The Royal Opera we are offering you 2 tickets for the price of 1 to the Autumn and Winter 1997/98 season. You can choose to see any of three productions - The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville and Paul Bunyan all showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
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