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Escapism at its best

More than a year since its re-emergence from oblivion, Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia keeps eliciting thunderous ovations. Not surprisingly, one might add. The restored three-acter is not just a shimmering tribute to Ashton’s genius; it is sheer fun, too. Indeed, ‘fun’ more than ‘artistic pleasure’ is what should be expected, for Sylvia is not one of

Two out of three

Glyndebourne on Tour has discovered outreach and access, etc. In an attempt, which I desperately hope will be vain, to ingratiate themselves with young audiences, they have conceded, in their mendacious publicity, that ‘traditional’ opera is a matter of fat ladies singing, drawn-out death sequences and the rest of the anti-elitist claptrap, and state that

Politics of patronage

‘The state is ruined, but mountains and rivers remain,’ wrote the Chinese poet Du Fu in the 8th century AD during a rebellion that temporarily overthrew the Tang Emperor. Four centuries later, ‘Give us back our mountains and rivers!’ was the slogan of Chinese nationalists after the conquest of northern China by the J

From horror to the sublime

It was towards 11 o’clock on the 11th that I approached Paul McCarthy’s exhibition. The Two Minutes’ Silence caught up with me on Monument station and was properly observed apart from the distant wailing of a busker in one of the tunnels and the giggling chatter of a couple of youths. But as I walked

Anything goes

Concern for the English language is one thing but diehard pedantry is another. It seems that Stephen Fry has started shouting at the radio when Radio Four listeners write to or email Feedback to complain about grammatical errors and solecisms they’ve heard on the network. There are certainly more mistakes than there used to be,

Regency revival?

W.S. Gilbert’s parody of Oscar Wilde, Reginald Bunthorne, wanted to make a minor scandal with his belief that ‘art stopped short in the cultivated court of the Empress Josephine’. In 1881 he was prophetic, although taste took at least 50 years to catch up. The English equivalent of Empire, the Regency period, has exerted a

Underneath the arches

Andrew Roberts on Feliks Topolski’s dramatic work of art, which is in desperate need of repair Adjacent to the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank under Hungerford Bridge are some Victorian railway arches which house one of the strangest, largest, most dramatic and most moving works of art in London, a painting that is