Verdi Don Carlo, Royal Opera House, London

The heat generated by this scorching revival of Verdi’s Don Carlo had little to do with burning heretics or indeed any aspect of Nicholas Hytner’s lucid if rather passive staging but rather the conducting of Semyon Bychkov whose drive and patience ensured that both the urgency and weight of history defining this great score were magnificently served.

Linda di Chamounix, Royal Opera House

The prospect of four solid hours of un-staged opera is enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most zealous of opera-fans, yet the Royal Opera House’s brief two-performance fling this week with Donizetti’s lesser known masterpiece is an absolute delight.

First Night: Das Rheingold, Royal Opera House, London

The overture to 'Das Rheingold' is one of classical music's boldest strokes, as a single bass note slowly expands upwards into a vast major chord, whose eddying ramifications remain static and unchanged for 136 bars. Under Valery Gergiev's febrile beat, the Mariinsky orchestra beautifully realises this effect, and for the next 150 minutes faithfully reflects every colour-shift in this opera's majestic musical journey.

After 54 years together, they decided to die together...

One of Britain's greatest conductors and his wife ended their lives in a Swiss clinic, watched by their weeping family

Elaine Padmore: 'Musicians loved Ted. He was a strong man with clear ideas'

Ted Downes had a formidable love and knowledge of opera – particularly Russian opera – and his pebbly glasses made him look like Shostakovich, who was one of Ted's great heroes. He was a huge Verdi man and was instrumental in creating the Verdi festival in London's Covent Garden in the 1990s. I remember when he and David McVicar came for the 2001 production of Rigoletto. I had to introduce them to each other and wondered how they would get on. But Ted was marvellous with younger people and very interested in their ideas, and this senior conductor and rising director got on fantastically well. The revival of this production of Rigoletto in 2005 was one of the last things Ted was able to conduct.

Rossini, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera House, London

Rossini’s Barber of Seville is packed with showstoppers; but when did we last see it cast at such strength, sung with such tongue and vocal chord twisting relish, and conducted with such panache that every number did just that – stopped the show? Answer: the current revival of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s wild and wacky staging at the Royal Opera House.

DiDonato/ Calleja/ Hampson/ Vassilev/ Pappano, Royal Opera House, London

Only the Royal Opera House could lose one star (the indisposed Dmitri Hvorostovsky) and find three others; well, five actually since Antonio Pappano, the evening's inspired accompanist, brought with him his orchestra's concert master, Vasko Vassilev, serenading us with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov in so homespun a manner as to turn a public concert into a private soirée.

Verdi La Traviata, Royal Opera House, London

Sometimes the first bar of music will tell you what kind of evening is in prospect.

La Traviata, Verdi, Royal Opera House

Sometimes the first bar of music will tell you what kind of evening is in prospect. And so it was here with Antonio Pappano, in his first Traviata for the Royal Opera, infusing the prelude with a sepia glow in remembrance of times past - better times for Violetta whose childhood photographs speak of an innocence long lost but never forgotten.

Berg Lulu, Royal Opera House, London

It’s taken the best part of a century to achieve the transition of Frank Wedekind’s Lulu from femme fatale to victim.

Purcell Dido and Aeneas/ Handel Acis and Galatea, Royal Opera/ Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London

It’s probably apocryphal, but a member of the Covent Garden elite was once heard to exclaim: “What is it tonight, darling, singing or dancing?” Well, both actually.

Verdi Requiem, Royal Opera House, London

Who knows if it really makes a difference or not when Verdi's Requiem is performed in the opera house but Antonio Pappano's vivid performance for the Royal Opera certainly had the whiff of theatricality about it. Churchy it was not – though you might imagine that the Royal Opera Chorus had been advised that their murmured repetitions of the words Requiem aeternam at the outset must sound almost indivisible from the mournful cello descent, as if emanating from deep inside some dark Italian cathedral.

Wagner Der fliegende Hollander, Royal Opera House, London

You knew from the palpable fizz of those open fifths in tremolando violins and the cut and thrust of the horns that conductor Marc Albrecht was very much at the helm of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman and that he’d started exactly as he meant to go on.

The Beggar's Opera, Royal Opera House, London

You could experience a momentary double-take walking into the Royal Opera's Linbury Studio Theatre – thinking you've taken a wrong turn into the main house, as a cross-section of the ornate balconies and familiar red curtains of the latter confronts you. John Gay's original The Beggar's Opera was so successful that it laid the foundations for the theatre that is now the Royal Opera House.

Turandot, Royal Opera House, London

How ironic that the one Puccini opera left unfinished at his death should end with what has become the greatest of his hits – "Nessun Dorma". Mind you, Turandot is big on irony, most of it dispensed by Ping, Pang, and Pong, the jolly trio from old Peking's ministry of executions, and in Andrei Serban's now almost legendary Royal Opera staging, given here on the very day of the composer's 150th anniversary, they are very much the life and soul of the party.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable