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Pleasure count

Humperdinck’s minor masterpiece Hansel and Gretel is one of those operas that disappears for a time and then comes in waves. I hope that Opera North’s splendid new semi-production of it heralds a fresh wave, because we’ve had a long period without it. It went very well in the grand spaces of Leeds Town Hall,

That elusive something

There’s a central chapter in Moby Dick where the narrator Ishmael traces his fascination with the whale to the colour white. For all its associations ‘with whatever is sweet, and honourable, and sublime’, he feels that ‘there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue which strikes more of panic to

Abuse and censorship

The distaste for torture and abuse of prisoners or detainees has never been shared by everyone in this country, though on the whole we’re better than those in many other countries. We have our own sadists who somehow end up in charge of others as well as those who, under pressure to provide results, overstep

Man of distinction

The name of Bacon in the 17th century inevitably suggests Sir Francis, first baron Verulam and viscount of St Albans, Lord Chancellor and natural scientist, philosopher and writer. Of an acutely inquiring mind, Sir Francis died of a chill caught trying to deep-freeze chickens. Nathaniel Bacon (1585–1627) was his nephew, and showed some of the