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Home Front: Radio 4's first world war drama will fight out the full four years

Arts feature

In a studio in Birmingham, there’s an air of excitement. Jessica Dromgoole and her team are recording new scenes for Home Front, Radio 4’s specially commissioned drama commemorating the first world war. They know that they’re about to launch on… Read more

‘Goose Woman’, c.1840, by George Smart

Why did it take so long to recognise the worth of British folk art?

Exhibitions

British folk art has been shamefully neglected in the land of its origin, as if the popular handiwork of past generations is an embarrassment to our cultural gurus and the kind of supposedly hip commentators who sneer at morris dancing.… Read more

© simon fowler/decca

I think I’ve found the new Maria Callas

Arts

South African Pumeza Matshikiza is one of the loveliest sopranos that Michael Tanner has ever heard

First night of The Proms, Royal Albert Hall Photo: Redferns/Getty

Was Elgar’s The Kingdom an attempt to write a religious Ring Cycle?

Music

To go from the second day of the England v. India Test match at Lord’s to the Albert Hall for the opening night of the Proms was to make a journey that a chosen few might find enviable. Nonetheless, different… Read more

Theater Freiburg present Tannhauser1

In Norwich, a director is caught trying to murder Wagner’s Tannhäuser

Opera

Seventeen years ago the Norwegian National Opera staged two cycles of the Ring in Norwich’s Theatre Royal, performances that have remained vividly in the minds of anyone who saw them. Now Theater Freiburg has visited Norwich with two performances each… Read more

Terribly, terribly English: Helen McCrory as Medea

Let’s face it, Greek tragedy is often earnest, obscure or boring. Not this Medea

Theatre

Carrie Cracknell’s new version of Medea strikes with overwhelming and rather puzzling force. The royal palace has been done up to resemble a clapped-out Spanish villa that seems to date from about 1983 if the kennel-sized TV set is anything… Read more

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Moon Indigo: an all-you-can-eat buffet for the eyes - but your brain will feel famished

Cinema

Your enjoyment of Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo may entirely depend on how much visual whimsy you can take, what your threshold might be, whether you can go with it or whether it wears you out and brings you to your… Read more

The Terracotta Army Museum: the warriors were built to protect Quin Shi Huuang, China’s first emperor

Barbie dolls? This girl aims for the head

Television

Channel 4’s Kids and Guns (Thursday) began with an American TV advert in which a young boy’s eyes shone with gratitude when his parents gave him a large gun, proudly marketed as ‘My First Rifle’. And just in case that… Read more

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Glasgow and the Commonwealth go back a long way; Radio 4 explores a murky past

Radio

What’s been missing from the schedules during the Commonwealth Games has been a straightforward reminder about who makes up the roster of nations and why. When, for instance, did it suddenly become OK to talk about the Commonwealth without that… Read more

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A history of remembrance

Culture notes

One fight that seems to have been won is that spearheaded by the War Memorials Trust to preserve the thousands of memorials — monuments, statues, plinths, tablets — erected across the country to honour our war dead. Through conservation grants… Read more

Neville Marriner: still going strong at the age of 90

How conductors keep getting better at 90

Arts feature

‘It’s a bad week. I gather we’ve lost one.’ Sir Neville Marriner, himself a huge name, is talking about the death of one of the world’s top conductors. Lorin Maazel, who died at home in Virginia at the age of… Read more

Still from 'The Lunchbox'

The Lunchbox: a love story based on food and free postage

Cinema

Was Kate due a grounding after the awards extravaganza of Revolutionary Road and The Reader? Because Labor Day (12A) slipped into cinemas in March and slipped out again almost unnoticed. With the DVD release this is a good time to… Read more

Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet’s ‘Connectome’, choreographed by Alastair Marriott

Natalia Osipova interview: ‘I'm not interested in diamond tiaras on stage’

Arts feature

‘I am not interested in sporting diamond tiaras on stage, or having my point shoes cooked and eaten by my fans,’ muses Natalia Osipova, referring to two old ballet anecdotes. ‘Ballet has evolved and the ballerina figure with it. The… Read more

Darren Strange and Dan Copeland in Invincible at St. James Theatre

When Mr and Mrs Clever-Nasty-and-Rich met Mr and Mrs Thick-Sweet-and-Poor

Theatre

Torben Betts, head boy at Alan Ayckbourn’s unofficial school of apprentices, has written at least a dozen plays I’ve never seen. Invincible, my first encounter with the heir apparent, is a sitcom that pitches London snobs against northern slobs. The… Read more

‘The Scyther (Mower)’, 1912, by Kazimir Malevich

Malevich: Are Tate visitors ready for this master of modernism?

Exhibitions

Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935) is one of the founding fathers of Modernism, and as such entirely deserves the in-depth treatment with which this massive new Tate show honours him. But it should be recognised from the start that this is a… Read more

La Traviata, Glyndebourne

I can’t see the point of Glyndebourne’s La traviata

Opera

One of the highlights of last year’s Glyndebourne Festival was the revival of Richard Jones’s Falstaff, spruced up and invigorated by Mark Elder’s conducting of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a beautifully balanced cast. Elder is also… Read more

Obstacle on the footballing front: Natascha McElhone as Georgie’s mother

The problem with Believe is you simply won’t believe any of it - unless you’re a child

Cinema

The trouble with Believe is that, unless you are ten years old or under, which I’m assuming you are not, you won’t believe. Not for a second. Not for a minute. Not a word of it. This doesn’t see itself… Read more

Otherworld, Comedy Feeds

In which James Delingpole gets down with the kids, finds they’re sex-obsessed…

Television

If there’s one thing everyone knows about BBC comedy it’s that it’s going downhill. According to Danny Cohen, now Director of BBC Television, it’s too white and middle class; according to producer John ‘Blackadder’ Lloyd, it’s run by idiots like… Read more

Roger Wright Photo: Getty

Does Radio 3 need a new controller?

Radio

Where next for Radio 3? Last Friday was the First Night of this year’s Proms season but it was the last night at the Proms for Roger Wright, who for 15 years has masterminded the station and for seven of… Read more

culture-notes

Alexander Pope, inventor of celebrity

Culture notes

‘The Picture of the Prime Minister hangs above the Chimney of his own Closet, but I have seen that of Mr Pope in twenty Noblemen’s Houses,’ wrote Voltaire in 1733. Alexander Pope’s start in life was not promising. A crippled… Read more

‘The Goldfinch’, 1654, by Carel Fabritius

The home of Holland’s celebrity paintings gets a makeover

Arts feature

If things had turned out differently for Brazil — I don’t mean in the World Cup — Recife might now be known as Mauritsstad. But when the Portuguese expelled the Dutch in 1654, the name of the new capital of… Read more

Handel's statue in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner. Photo: Getty

Is Handel’s Messiah anti-Semitic?

Music

The Hallelujah Chorus crops up in the most unexpected places, says Michael Marissen in his new book about Handel’s Messiah. For example, it’s used in a TV ad ‘depicting frantic bears’ ecstatic relief in chancing upon Charmin toilet paper in… Read more

paul-muldoon

‘Artmaking is a drug’ - interview with poet Paul Muldoon

Secondary Feature

A fellow festival-goer at the recent Calabash literary festival in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, enjoyed chatting to a gentle Irish poet called Paul. He told her he ‘dabbled’ in poetry, and she was seconds from asking if he was planning on… Read more

‘Paul Newman’, 1964, by Dennis Hopper

Had Hollywood not lured him away, Dennis Hopper could have made his name as a photographer

Exhibitions

In an age when photographs have swollen out of all proportion to their significance, and are mounted on wall-sized light boxes the better to show off their high-resolution colour, it’s a relief to see an exhibition of small photographic prints… Read more

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Buxton Festival sticks its neck out with two rarities by Dvorak and Gluck

Opera

Dvorak’s The Jacobin and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, the two operas that opened this year’s Buxton Festival, are both relative rarities today, but their creators’ fortunes tell an interesting story. Dvorak’s operas — or at least Rusalka — joined the… Read more

Billie Piper as Paige Britain: gorgeous, stony-hearted news psycho

Richard Bean doesn’t believe in humans - just weasels, snakes, rats and vultures

Theatre

Mr Bean, one of our greatest comic exports, has an alter ego. The second Mr Bean, forename Richard, is the author of One Man, Two Guvnors, which thrilled audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. His latest play, Great Britain,… Read more

A series of indisputable masterpieces: Nile Rodgers of Chic

The quest for the perfect guitar riff is a noble one – if not quite the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe

Television

A few weeks ago, my eight-year-old son, who’s taken up the guitar, announced that he’d learned something new. He then played a sequence of chords — approximately, Duh-duh-duuh, Duh-duh-da-duuh — that I’ve been hearing from all guitarists since I was… Read more

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How did a New York nanny become one of the great photographers of the 20th century?

Cinema

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary about the American nanny who led a wholly secretive life as a photographer and who, posthumously, has been described as ‘one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century’. It’s a good story, which… Read more