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Bloody, bold and (mostly) resolute

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Critics' Awards 1999 - Classical: Courage of their convictions

If 1999 has any claim on British music history, it will be for something we did not have rather than something we did: namely, the Royal Opera, which went to sleep at the start of the year and didn't wake up until the end. That it woke up at all was a miracle of Disneyesque proportions: kissed into life by the Prince Charming of the American arts establishment, Michael Kaiser, and handed the keys of a glittering new palace on Bow Street. And though the company didn't have too much to say for itself at the opening celebrations, these are early days. It's good to have you back. Keep at it.

Music: It ain't over 'til the fat man improves

CLASSICAL Falstaff Royal Opera House, London Benvenuto Cellini The Barbican, London Beethoven Symphony Series Royal Festival Hall, London

Arts: Knight to remember

The much-maligned Royal Opera computer worked its magic for Falstaff. But did the company live up to it? By Edward Seckerson

Music: Well sung, but its heart was missing

Dirt, I always think, lends depth to an environment, and by that reckoning the new Royal Opera House will take a while to ease into three dimensions. For the moment, with its pristine surfaces, its new red plush, the gold-leaf just a bit too gold, and the amazing mirrored acreage of what is now called the Vilar Floral Hall (after its sponsors), it feels like the set for one of its own, classier productions. And at Wednesday's opening gala it was just that. What we saw on stage was almost marginal. The real show happened front of house, starring the great and good whose names will be forever spoken (or perhaps sung) when the story of the ROH is told.
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