No operatic ending is more devastating, gripping and shocking than the final scene of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites. Condemned to death for their faith by the French revolutionary court, the nuns walk to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina.
When Madonna wore a Kylie Min-ogue T-shirt to the MTV European Music Awards in 2000, it was assumed she was being magnanimous and ironic. But the fact is that, in this country at least, Kylie is as big a deal these days.
How’s this for a 20th-century plot? A supernatural Empress is married to a human Emperor who will be turned to stone if the Empress is not able to buy a shadow from a poor woman. And those are just the basic elements.
Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten is sometimes described as his response to The Magic Flute.
London Grammar’s melancholy chill-out pop, with its blend of wan melody and gently pattering trip hop rhythms, has been one of the musical triumphs of the past year. The trio, who met at Nottingham University in 2009, saw their 2013 debut album If You Wait reach number two in the UK and go top 20 around the world.
Kasper Holten’s new production of Don Giovanni is unmissable. There’s not a scene that hasn’t been thoroughly thought through and not a character who hasn’t been dissected. That means a constantly rewarding intellectual challenge — such as the idea that, far from being helpless victims, Donna Anna and Zerlina are complicit in their dalliances with the Don.
I have an idea in my mind’s eye of what certain politicians might have been like as teenagers. In my imagination, Ed Miliband was a gawky youth in a green anorak who attended Labour Young Socialist meetings and didn’t have any girlfriends — or any other interests for that matter.
There aren’t many composers, American or British, who could support a six-CD box set of their work, but Burt Bacharach — who has just turned 85 and is due to perform in Israel for the first time in July — is one such giant of post-war song. The last major collection of his music was The Look Of Love, a mere three-CD affair from 1998.