A rebel for his times Premium

22 September 2016 | by Robert Thicknesse
Opera is full to the brim of single-minded transgressors, doing the forbidden thing in order to explore on our behalf what it means to be human. But none is more dedicated to his chosen path than Don Giovanni.

Inside out Premium

22 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Nottingham University’s Djanogly Gallery has a history of staging thought-provoking exhibitions. In 2010 it hosted “Prayer”, a sound installation by South African artist James Webb that wove a vocal tapestry from prayers recorded across the city’s multi-faith communities.

Beyond the dolce vita Premium

22 September 2016 | by John Morrish
This week brought us a short Italian season from Sky Arts, with a mix of history, art history, music and literature: programmes looked at Casanova, La Scala, Artemisia Gentileschi, Raphael and a more recent cultural treasure, the actress Claudia Cardinale.

Money, money, money Premium

22 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
In her first two full-length plays, young dramatist Beth Steel has explored the extremities of the capitalist system. After a detailed reconstruction of the 1984 miners’ strike above and below ground in Wonderland, which won her the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright award, she now, in Labyrinth, explores the dangerously avaricious expansion of international banking in the period 1978-82.

No end of fun Premium

22 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
As one who had recently to attend to a scathing teatime critique of Plato’s theory of perfectibility, courtesy of a philosophy-studying son, I sat down before the first instalment of Adrian Moore’s new 10-parter (19 September) with more than usual interest.

For the pure love of it Premium

15 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Twenty years ago, when I was editing an art magazine, we commissioned an artist to tout his portfolio around West End galleries and report on the experience. The article appeared under the title “Nightmare on Cork Street”, only a slight exaggeration of the feelings of rejection our guinea pig suffered.

When Christ met Caesar Premium

15 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
In an instructive coincidence, the cinematic remake of Ben-Hur appears alongside another speculative variation on the life of Christ. John Wolfson, curator of rare books at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, has adapted his radio play constructing a fascinating what-if around the Crucifixion.

Unanswered questions on 9/11 Premium

15 September 2016 | by John Morrish
Some years ago, an old friend, a building engineer by profession, pressed upon me a home-made CD-ROM and urged me, as a journalist, to do something with it. It was, he explained, full of documents proving that the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled explosions and not by the impact of a couple of airliners full of aviation fuel.

Borchester in the dock Premium

15 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Like the antique fountain pen that has had three new nibs and two new handles, The Archers has the enviable knack of seeming constantly to change its appearance while remaining fundamentally the same.

Out of the depths they cry Premium

08 September 2016 | by Joanna Moorhead
Arched windows and high, vaulted ceilings give Reading prison a distinctly churchy feel, which is unsurprising, given that it was designed by the high priest of Victorian ecclesiastical architecture, George Gilbert Scott. But what’s less predictable is the prison’s deeply spiritual aura, as evinced by a new exhibition called, appropriately enough, “Inside” (to 30 October).

Don’t clap too loudly Premium

08 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
John Osborne’s (1929-94) fame came from the perception that he changed English theatre, but the posthumous decline of his reputation can be attributed to a feeling that the medium had changed again.

Conductor’s countdown Premium

08 September 2016 | by Rick Jones
The first of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s two Proms with retiring chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle (Prom 64) took an exhilarating journey from contemporary realisation to classic reinterpretation as this year’s Proms nears its close.

History made personal Premium

08 September 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
Public remembrance is a difficult notion: how do you remember an event you have not experienced? The First World War Centenary has produced a range of artistic solutions, notably Paul Cummins’ and Tom Piper’s ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London, a vivid public testament to the sheer number of lives lost.

Unearthing the garden Premium

08 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Who was Paul Howard-Jones, you wondered, as the first of In Search of Eden’s five episodes (5-9 September) broke upon the airwaves with a sonorous recitation from the Book of Genesis?

Action speaks louder Premium

01 September 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
Ben-Hur has had mixed fortunes in the cinema. From the beginning the story of a Jewish prince’s conflict with the Roman Empire caught the popular imagination when first published as a novel by Lew Wallace under the title Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880, and it was first filmed as a silent short in 1907.

Bomb’s bitter legacy Premium

01 September 2016 | by John Morrish
Old family cine films and faded photographs are the documentary maker’s short cut to the emotions. And it was there that The Good Terrorist (27 August) chose to start, inviting us to mourn the young John Harris, who would go on to be hanged in 1965 after leaving a bomb in Johannesburg’s railway station.

Favourites to the fore Premium

01 September 2016 | by Rick Jones
The second half of the Proms sees a proliferation of foreign orchestras, with the August Bank Holiday graced by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under founder-conductor Iván Fischer and a programme of Mozart in 1791, his last year of life.

Immaculate misconceptions Premium

01 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson
Australian writer-director Simon Stone’s trademark is updating classic plays to have the feel of a contemporary police procedural. His translation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck to present-day Australia was seen at the Barbican in 2014, and has recently been released as a movie, starring Geoffrey Rush, called The Daughter.

Northern braggadocio Premium

01 September 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
The opening seconds of this promising 10-parter, which began last Monday and ends next Friday, found Melvyn Bragg perched on top of Hadrian’s Wall.

Ayes for eyes Premium

18 August 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The last two Edinburgh Fringe festivals included numerous productions reflecting on Scottish and British politics before and after the independence referendum. But that poll, in September 2014, was perfectly timed for festival deadlines on either side.

Passion and affection Premium

18 August 2016 | by Alan Tyers
Once there must have been life before Rio, a time when one was not adhered to the sofa 16 hours a day watching Czech judokas and tiny Thai weightlifters and slalom canoeists from Stoke do their weird and wonderful things.

Down to the wire with Cable Premium

18 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
After first chancing his arm with Michael Heseltine, Peter Hennessy (also a columnist for The Tablet) devoted the second instalment of his new series of Reflections to a sit-down with the former Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable (9 August).

Tantrums of a tyrant Premium

18 August 2016 | by Anthony Quinn
In the nature/nurture debate thrumming under the sombre surface of The Childhood of a Leader – the portrait of a tyrant in waiting – first-time director Brady Corbet sits on an iron fence. You could blame the parents, but you might also discern in the story’s moppet dictator a streak of wanton nastiness that is purely his own.

Symphonic richness Premium

18 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Each of london’s five symphony orchestras has performed in the first five weeks of the Proms. Comparisons would be invidious as they naturally have not played the same piece, but it does demonstrate a rich, thriving culture.

Shadow stories Premium

18 August 2016 | by John Morrish
In this bewildering world, in which barely a week passes without some cruel and bizarre atrocity, it is not surprising that people seek a deeper pattern or meaning in events.

Let there be light Premium

10 August 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
A show that gives a glimpse of the English Renaissance that might have been

The right acoustic Premium

10 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Some proms are best away from the Royal Albert Hall

But is it Church? Premium

10 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Spiritual, thoughtful, charitable – and God-free

Passion in a real garden Premium

03 August 2016 | by Mark Lawson
The return of a remarkable fusion of theatre and theology

The eternal moment Premium

03 August 2016 | by Rick Jones
Mahler’s timeless masterpiece

Not quite all over Premium

03 August 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
Replaying England’s football moment of 50 years ago

Edinburgh: the stage is set Premium

28 July 2016 | by Mark Lawson
Edinburgh International Festival 2016

Guitars and pedals Premium

28 July 2016
Edinburgh International Festival 2016

Trivial pursuit Premium

28 July 2016 | by John Morrish
Julian of Norwich’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography briefly ponders her somewhat unusual name, then notes: “no other information concerning her identity or origins has come to light”.

Enlightenment and purity Premium

28 July 2016 | by Rick Jones
Soprano Lucy Crowe singing Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate was the highlight that started the second week of the Proms – beautifully shaped runs, the lightest ornaments and a top C that crowned the performance like a gentle kiss.

A world of faces Premium

28 July 2016 | by Laura Gascoigne
For summer the Royal Academy’s Sackler Wing galleries have come out in a bright new livery of cherry red. The paint job is in honour of “82 Portraits and 1 Still-life” (until 2 October), the latest artistic tour de force from David Hockney.

When birth brings death Premium

28 July 2016 | by D.J. Taylor
As might have been expected from its title, Emma Beck’s heartfelt documentary (22 July) was full of deeply arresting sound bites. “Somebody say something,” a bereaved mother remembered asking a room full of clinicians, each of whom stood staring at an ultrasound scan confirming that prenatal movement had ceased.

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