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Cardinal crimes

In my view, and I think that of a fair proportion of opera goers, Madam Butterfly occupies a unique position in Puccini’s oeuvre. None of his other operas can seriously be entertained for tragic status, but Butterfly can and should be. Because its idiom is instantly recognisable, it is easy to assimilate it to the

Master of reverie

If there’s one exhibition Tate Modern has mounted which needed the attentions of a sympathetic designer it’s this one. Never have such vibrant paintings begun to seem so dull, displayed to disadvantage on the drab, no-colour walls of the unsympathetic boxes of the temporary exhibition galleries on Level 4. There’s something intrinsically disheartening about the

Shipwreck of a genius

Simeon Solomon ‘has his place, not far from Burne-Jones, in any record of the painting of the 19th century. Had circumstances been kinder to him, or had he been other than himself, he would have been a formidable rival,’ wrote Arthur Symons in 1925. This Birmingham exhibition is the most comprehensive assessment yet of Solomon’s

More war

Now obviously in the light of last week’s column I did try to find a subject this week which had to do with something other than war. But then I looked in the schedules and saw that there was one documentary on about the Somme and another about the city of Benares, and that was

Embracing Western culture

It’s five o’clock on a November evening, and I’m leaning over a balcony watching a pipe band parading in the concourse below. But it’s not the chill of a Scottish autumn I’m feeling, rather the mildness of autumn in Japan — and the pipers are not Scots, but Japanese members of the Tokyo Piping Society