More from Arts

The Bayreuth experience

The first-ever visit of this ardent Wagnerite to his festival at Bayreuth coincides exactly with my 20th anniversary of contributing this column to The Spectator. How satisfying to combine them! Whatever reservations, the experience of seeing all seven mature music dramas within nine days in Wagner’s own theatre was pretty mindblowing. I’ll begin by setting

Artistic diversity

Love National Gallery, until 5 October It’s that time of the year — some call it the Silly Season — when a themed exhibition visits the Sunley Rooms of the National Gallery, after previously showing at Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery, and the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne. This is the seventh in

Thin on the ground

Ben X 15, Key cities August is a hopeless month for movies — it’s when the big studios dump their worst films on us, pretty much — and so there is very little worth seeing, let alone reviewing. I did think about seeing the new Will Ferrell comedy, Step Brothers, but after catching the tail

Inspiration in a factory

King Idomeneo Birmingham Osud Royal Albert Hall Last year Birmingham Opera Company imported La traviata from Verona, and performed it to huge and enthusiastic audiences. Result: the Arts Council, in its infinite malignant imbecility, axed its grant, along with that of many other institutions which survive on an annual budget that would keep one of

Heart of the matter

Gone Too Far! Hackney Empire Eating Ice Cream on Gaza Beach Soho Piaf Donmar Anyone for a knife crime comedy? Bola Agbaje’s attempt to get laughs from our anxieties about blade-wielding teenagers might have been a disaster if the script hadn’t been so witty and its examination of the subdivisions within black culture so penetrating.

That was the year that was

‘The only way you can help us,’ said the young student on the archive recording, his voice thin and wavering through the ether, as if emasculated by the Soviet tanks that had just invaded his native city, Prague. ‘Don’t forget Czechoslovakia.’ The streets were filled with young people, who were bravely trying to talk with

Senior moments

Time to pay tribute to New Tricks, which ended its most recent run on BBC1 this Monday. The penultimate episode had 8.9 million viewers, which meant that more people watched it that night than Coronation Street. It has a good claim to be the most popular programme on television. All of this brings much satisfaction.