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Pastel-shaded surprise

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is an argument in favour of ordinary life, as opposed to a life ruled by passion and intensity. It’s a kind of anti-Tristan, in which Isolde decides, in the terminology of Act II of Wagner’s drama, to call it a day as far as uniting with Tristan in undying (or unliving) love

World of fear

According to theatrical lore, no play can be considered an out-and-out masterpiece unless it’s initially rejected. The most famous example is Look Back in Anger, which received a critical mauling in the dailies and was only saved from closure by Kenneth Tynan’s rave in the Observer. The second most famous is The Birthday Party, which

Breath of the Mediterranean

The slightly warmer blustery weather of late March found me en route for Compton Verney, the charming Robert Adam house in 120 acres of Warwickshire park landscaped by Capability Brown. Purchased in 1993 by the philanthropic Peter Moores Foundation, it was sympathetically remodelled and opened to the public as an art gallery in 2004. Among

Quality control

Really, it isn’t me who decides what TV programmes to review. It’s my wife. Like, the other night I’d started watching Ricky J. Dyer’s fascinating documentary I Love Being…HIV+ (BBC3, Monday) about pozzing up, the disgusting gay underworld perversion of deliberately getting yourself infected with the HIV virus by seeking unprotected sex with known carriers,

Utter madness or good fortune

I work at the V&A and walk every day through galleries packed with marvellous things, but the other day I was stopped in my tracks by something unique: eight contemporary illuminated manuscript pages, flecked with gold and shimmering with light and colour in their display cases. They are, I discovered, from the Saint John’s Bible,