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Buried treasure

The newly available recording of the 1955 Bayreuth ‘Ring’ Unlike my fearless and indefatigable colleague, I visit the opera with reluctance, expecting the worst and usually finding it. The almost universal betrayal in recent decades of this most complex of genres by hideous design and perverted production is never so sheerly ghastly as with the

Cover story

Since Sir Edward Poulton’s pioneering study The Colours of Animals was published in 1890, the importance of disguise in the natural world — and, by extension, in the human one — has been widely recognised and exploited. As technology changed the patterns and prospects of warfare, with aerial reconnaissance and long-range shelling becoming a nasty

Pastoral visions

I’d never really looked at landscapes with cows until a student experience brought them sharply into focus. I was standing in front of one at a tutor’s party when I noticed the boy next to me staring at it. As I wondered what had so captured his imagination, he suddenly gasped, ‘God, I’m hungry!’ There

Hot stuff

Handel’s Giulio Cesare in a staged concert performance at the Barbican, given under the experienced baton of René Jacobs, was something to look forward to keenly, especially for that tiny minority of us who think the work a great one but the enormously popular Glyndebourne production a vulgar travesty. In the event, it was rather

Short cuts

‘Censorship,’ shrieked Hanif Kureishi after discovering that his short story, ‘Weddings and Beheadings’, was not going to be read on Radio Four as part of the National Short Story Competition (organised with various organisations including Prospect magazine, Booktrust and the Scottish Book Trust to promote the skill involved in writing short stories). The five shortlisted