Male order | 4 July 2019

Another turn around the block for David McVicar’s handsome 1830s Figaro at the Royal Opera — the sixth since the production’s 2006 premiere — scarcely raises an eyebrow, let alone a pulse. But a quick glance down the cast list of the current revival reveals some curiosities. First to catch the eye is Kangmin Justin

Arts feature

Cutting edge

The art-history books will tell you that sometime around 1912, Picasso invented collage, or, actually, perhaps it was Braque. What they mean is that sometime around 1912 a man of sufficient standing took up a technique that had been quietly practised in largely domestic spheres by a largely female army of amateurs, and applied it

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Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars

Grade: B– The first Springsteen song I ever heard was ‘Born To Run’, back when I was 14. I clocked the impassioned, overwrought self-mythologising, the grandiosity of the opening riff, the strange lack of a chorus given the promise of the verse. Well, OK, interesting, I reckoned — maybe even good. But great? Never. I


Mixed messages | 4 July 2019

Present Laughter introduces us to a chic, louche and highly successful theatrical globetrotter, Garry Essendine, whose riotous social life is centred on his swish London apartment. This is Noël Coward’s version of Noël Coward. In the script, from 1942, Coward alleges that his alter ego is being chased by three women. The in crowd would


Go, West

My plan to cut the BBC out of my life entirely is working well. Apart from the occasional forgivable lapse — that excellent Margaret Thatcher documentary; Pointless and Only Connect because they’re the only programmes we can all watch together as a family — I find that not watching or listening to anything the BBC


Keeping it real | 4 July 2019

Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) was a member of the Nabis (the Prophets), a problematically loose agglomeration of painters, inspired by Gauguin and Émile Bernard, the school of Pont-Aven. Broadly speaking, this entailed an alleged allegiance to spirituality and anti-naturalistic flat colour. The Nabis — a secret group moniker —were heterogeneous, a broad church that seldom sang


Meet the folks

Midsommar is the latest horror film from Ari Aster, who made Hereditary, which starred Toni Collette and was a sensation. That was a domestic, claustrophobic scenario packed with jump scares — well, jump-ish scares; I wasn’t that scared, actually — whereas this is pastoral and relies more on building a quiet dread. It’s set in


End of an era

There’s been a Dimbleby on air since before I was born but last Friday saw the end of that era when Jonathan retired as chairman of Radio 4’s Any Questions after 32 years. It’s a bit like imagining life in Britain once the Queen dies. The Dimbleby family has been intertwined with the history of