The Welsh National Opera version of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, established in the 70s by director Joachim Herz, on the basis of meticulous research, and now directed by Sarah Crisp, delivers pure emotion with devastating directness.
Either ultra-topical or else historic with contemporary resonance are the smart choices of subject matter for any playwright seeking to thrill an audience. The building of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest structure, falls somewhere in between, given that it opened in 2010 and the maltreatment and suicides of its construction workers are old news.
Le Corbusier has mostly gone down in history as a visionary Swiss urban planner. For the thousands forcibly evicted from District Six in Cape Town, he has a more sinister resonance as the proponent of “the surgical method” – as mentioned in the notorious apartheid-era Group Areas Act – of sweeping away what he saw as chaos and disorder.
Even in times when rehash is more common than originality, the risk with a revival of Burt Bacharach’s late 1960s musical Promises, Promises, in turn based on Billy Wilder’s 1960 film The Apartment, is that it feels doubly derivative.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) were both sons of artists, both mastered realism at an early age, both left their native countries and both turned up in Paris, where they met for the first time in 1931 and enjoyed a working friendship that flourished until the 1950s.
Adaptations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol began around 30 years after his death and proliferated during the 1930s and 40s with a wealth of radio productions, notably one featuring Orson Welles and sponsored by Campbell’s Soup.
For the non-initiate, The Beastie Boys were a group of white New Yorkers who made the leap from punk rock to hip hop. The result was the number 1 hit Licensed to Ill and an opening up to the white suburbs of a previously black musical phenomenon.
In the 1930s, as he fled Nazi Germany, Einstein passed through the Belgian port of Ostend, en route to the United States, and met the painter James Ensor. He asked him what he painted, to which Ensor replied “nothing”.
Anyone seeking to be reminded of how we used to work not so very long ago should take the 10-minute tram journey from Birmingham’s newly revamped Grand Central Station to the city’s Jewellery Quarter, where every other shop is a jeweller and the close-knit atmosphere of a neighbourhood once closed to the wider city lingers on.
Of all Shakespeare’s plays, the problematic Taming of the Shrew lends itself to tongue-in-cheek adaptations. Already a play-within-a-play in the original version, framing Shakespeare’s account of the shrewish Kate and her borderline-abusive Petruchio with a backstage broken romance ratchets up a notch the already absurdly charged sexual tension.
Established in 2007, the Aimia AGO photography prize, Canada’s optimum award for contemporary photography, was the first major art accolade to hand the general public the responsibility of choosing the winner – although an expert panel has already drawn up the list of contenders.
With otherworldly northern lights, volcanoes and hot springs, Iceland is famously a nation of natural wonders. It also has an extraordinary human wonder in its tradition of sagas, written in Icelandic, when the scholarly world was dominated by Latin, and establishing a tiny nation, in terms of population, as great when measured by its literary contribution.