A giant head formed the set for the Royal Opera House's Król Roger. Photo: Bill Cooper/ROH
Król Roger’s music is beautiful – but overwhelmed by constant symbolism
By Caroline Crampton - 21 May 13:59

The production makes it very clear what we are supposed to think, which sadly detracts from the variety and ambiguity the composer worked into his score. 

Edmund Kean as Richard III (1814). To see him act was to “read Shakespeare by flashes of lightning”. Picture: VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES
How to be a great actor
By Benedict Nightingale - 21 May 11:02

From Kean to Dench, the best performers radiate an electricity that transcends the stage.

The set for The Vote. Photo: Channel 4 Screengrab
Channel 4's The Vote was dull - especially compared to the real drama of election night
By Rachel Cooke - 14 May 16:03

For thrills, I would take that exit poll over Judi Dench and Jude Law any day.

Golden girl: Conchita performing at the Eurovision Song Contest, May 2014. Photo: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
"I'd love to see Angela Merkel dressing a bit more cosy": the passion of Conchita Wurst
By Sophie McBain - 14 May 13:42

The 2014 Eurovision winner already counts Cher and Lagerfeld among her fans. Now, her message of tolerance is going global.

Larger than life: “Cave is creating a disguise which, ironically, makes him instantly recognisable – and then hiding inside it”. Photo: Brian Rasic / Rex
Tracey Thorn on Nick Cave: man and bogeyman
By Tracey Thorn - 06 May 8:49

Rock's gothic - or comic - bogeyman gives a masterclass in transformation at the Royal Albert Hall.

“A hell of a start for Rufus Norris”: Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in Everyman at the National Theatre. Photo: Geraint Lewis / Rex
Carol Ann Duffy’s Everyman is mordantly funny – yet poignant
By Mark Lawson - 05 May 10:49

With screen actors taking the lead, Everyman and American Buffalo sparkle with cinematic swagger.

Perfect wavelengths: the new Blur album is a smooth blend of separate interests. Photo: LINDA BROWNLEE (BLUR), REX
Big audio bounceback: new albums by Blur and The Prodigy reviewed
By Kate Mossman - 01 May 8:28

The Albarn-Coxon concoction sounds surprisingly robust.

Vinyl for sale at a record fair. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
In music today, it’s all or nothing – rich at the top or languishing forlornly at the bottom
By Tracey Thorn - 30 April 13:59

Would I want my children to go into music? I do have to wonder, just as my parents wondered.

Far out: Hornsby’s career has taken him from Sheena Easton to Arnold Schoenberg via the Grateful Dead. Illustration: Tony Millionaire
How Bruce Hornsby survived a hit song
By Kate Mossman - 24 April 12:59

From the Grateful Dead to Arnold Schoenberg, via Tossers Wood.

No easy way: Dusty Springfield performing in 1965. Photo: Dezo Hoffmann/Rex
Good vibrations: Tracey Thorn’s new book crushes our ideas about what makes a good singer
By Jude Rogers - 23 April 12:44

Naked at the Albert Hall is a history of singing that hums with freshness and passion.

David Bowie in 1973. Photo: Michael Ochs/Gettuy
From the archive: Martin Amis on the "mild fad" of David Bowie
By Martin Amis - 16 April 14:37

The feelings David Bowie aroused will vanish along with the fashion built around him, argued Martin Amis in 1973.

Larkin outside the University of Hull in 1979. Photo: Jane Bown/Topfoto
From the archive: Philip Larkin on the voices of poets
By Philip Larkin - 16 April 14:03

All my antiquarian rage boils at the thought that nobody thought to record Hardy.

The author on the red carpet for The Falling. Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for BFI
Back in front of the cameras this week – and posing doesn’t get any easier
By Tracey Thorn - 16 April 10:48

The more we acknowledge that it hurts when someone is cruel about your appearance, the closer we might get to being kinder.

Brian Eno. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
How I nearly joined a cult of men in yellow jumpers - but got out in time to dodge Nick Clegg
By Suzanne Moore - 16 April 10:31

It's great being a Lib Dem - you don't have to believe in anything. For a brief moment in 1996, I thought I'd found my people.

The atrium at the British Museum. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Neil MacGregor, Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Hytner: exeunt stage right
By Mark Lawson - 10 April 17:35

Three titans of British culture are stepping down this year. Mark Lawson looks at their legacy – and the space they’ll leave behind.

Girls keep it together in front of their rock’n’roll idols. It’s men who turn into gibbering wrecks
By Suzanne Moore - 09 April 15:38

Middle aged men are complete emotional wrecks verging on hysteria a lot of the time.

Billie Holiday and her dog Mister in 1947. Photo: William P Gottlieb Collection
The bottle, the blues and Billie Holiday
By Yo Zushi - 07 April 17:06

Lady Day, a century after her birth.

Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd at the ENO. Photo: Tristran Kenton
Meat is murder: Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum
By Caroline Crampton - 02 April 16:24

A subversive semi-staging of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd brings the infamous barber back to London.

Why do we mock teenage girls who love One Direction when Top Gear fans are just the same?
By Elizabeth Minkel - 31 March 18:56

The online mockery of fans of Zayn Malik, who left One Direction the same day Jeremy Clarkson was fired, would never be levelled at grown-up sports or Top Gear fans.

Young Fathers interview: “Pop needs to represent culture as it really is”
By Kate Mossman - 27 March 15:50

The Scottish trio tell Kate Mossman why they want racists to hear their music.

Thicke as thieves? Photo: David Buchan/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: Your songs are like your children – you have to wave them off into the world
By Tracey Thorn - 27 March 14:20

Copyright law encourages artists to feel they're in control of what they've made. But in reality, a song is a different thing once it leaves its creator.

Sara Najafi (centre-right) organises a controversial concert in Iran.
When singing is a revolutionary act: the women challenging Iran's fear of female creativity
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 25 March 9:06

No Land's Song, a new documentary by Ayat Najafi, follows her sister Sara's fight to put on a revolutionary concert. 

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is slick and energetic – but unsuited to the Royal Opera House
By Alexandra Coghlan - 19 March 17:22

The Royal Opera House is a fundamentally unsuitable space for its otherwise impressive production of the satire on capitalism, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Death becomes her: Juliette Binoche as Antigone. Photo: Jan Versweyveld
In love with the impossible: Juliette Binoche’s alluring but impenetrable Antigone
By Jason Cowley - 19 March 11:18

Binoche’s Antigone is easier to respect than to pity and, for some reason, one never really feels the pathos of her struggles.

The BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy
Budget 2015: Why George Osborne’s tax cut for orchestras is really unfair
By Caroline Crampton - 18 March 15:13

When is an orchestra not an orchestra? The way this policy defines it, northern brass bands and Scottish bagpipe groups will be excluded from the tax relief.

The New Statesman's unlikely role in the progressive rock movement of the 1960s
By Anna Leszkiewicz - 17 March 16:14

"Painter/musician badly needs rent cheap." 

How not to adapt a British sitcom in America
By Lea A Donovan - 16 March 15:40

For every successful American remake of a classic British comedy there is a handful of dreadful clangers that never make it beyond a pilot.

A more modest view of Aidan Turner.
Second helpings: even with its sea vistas and a firm, pink bottom, Poldark fails to shine
By Rachel Cooke - 12 March 16:15

The new Poldark looks like a tourist board campaign for Cornwall, only with stagecoaches where there should be surfboards.

If you think Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines plagiarises Marvin Gaye, you don't understand songwriting
By Rhodri Marsden - 12 March 14:35

A jury's view that Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s Blurred Lines copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song, Got To Give It Up is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what songwriting is.

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