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why barenboim is the ring master of our age | music

The chance to see a complete Ring cycle is all too rare these days. Martin Kettle reports from Berlin’s Staatsoper, where Daniel Barenboim might be hidden from view, but his Wagner is revelatoryThere was a time when it was unusual for a season to pass in a British opera house without the complete Ring being performed. The first Ring cycle to be mounted in postwar Britain was premiered in 1949 at Covent Garden. Thereafter (with the sole exception of 1952), the Ring, or parts of it, was an annual ...

artist creates deepfake birdsong to highlight threat to dawn chorus | environment

Somerset House exhibit will feature natural birdsong being taken over by artificial soundThe dawn chorus is one of the wonders of the natural world, but a discordant note will be struck when a soundtrack of hundreds of birds is heard in London this month. The chiffchaffs, great tits, redstarts, robins and thrushes almost sound like the real thing, but they have been created by a machine as part of a major art installation warning of an apocalyptic world where Britain’s bird population has been a...

meet the new directors who lit up the film festivals | film

At Toronto, Cannes and beyond, a wave of buzzy debut film-makers grabbed critics’ attention – we speak to four of themIt’s tough out there on the festival circuit for the newbie director. First-time film-makers frequently face an uphill battle getting noticed amid the noise and the circus of a film festival, and even more of a challenge securing distribution. Punters can be reluctant to take a risk on an unknown quantity in a festival schedule – on a director whose name isn’t instantly recognisa...

official secrets review – keira knightley excels in iraq war whistleblower drama | film

Knightley stars as the GCHQ translator who leaked a classified memo to the Observer exposing the US plot to spy on the UN shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq Iraq war whistleblower Katharine Gun: ‘Truth always matters’“Just because you’re the prime minister doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.” So says Keira Knightley’s whistleblower in Gavin Hood’s “based on true events” drama, an on-the-nose revisiting of the run-up to the Iraq war that draws clear parallels with the “alternati...

the darkness of a matinee cinema trip offers a glint of hope | life and style

Alone in the velvet seats, Judy made me cryI understand now. I absolutely get it, the reason one should go to the cinema alone. Last Thursday I had the day off work and took a piece of cake to a matinee performance of Judy. As the credits rolled, this epiphany swept over me in a wonderful wave, and I leant back in my velvet seat and sighed like a snore.Self-care is an amorphous word and one that has been wrung so dry from overuse it disintegrates to the touch. The concept originated as doctors’ ...

amrou al-kadhi: ‘being a drag queen healed me’ | culture

Growing up in a strict Muslim family, Amrou Al-Kadhi felt worthless, but found a new freedom and community in the world of dragI am a therapist couch hopper (sorry to any of my cuckolded shrinks now reading this). I’ve sampled mental health services like a toddler at a pick-n-mix stall, all in the hope of remedying the severe psychological issues that developed during my childhood.Here’s a taster. I’ve had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to manage my once debilitating OCD, a condition that b...

it’s the end of the world as we know it... and michael stipe feels fine | art and design

The ex-REM frontman talks us through his new collection of photographs - and explains why he’s giving all profits from his new single to Extinction RebellionPhotography in the digital age by Michael Stipe - in picturesMichael Stipe pops his head around a pillar. “Hello! It’s Michael!” he says, though we’ve met before and he’s very famous. It’s early evening and we’re in the lobby of Stipe’s London hotel, two minutes’ walk from the Extinction Rebellion protest in Trafalgar Square. All is shiny, s...

20 photographs of the week | art and design

Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish forces, the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, and Eliud Kipchoge breaking the two-hour marathon barrier – the past seven days, as captured by the world’s best photojournalists Continue reading...

hisham matar: ‘writing is both the easiest and the most difficult thing’ | books

The Libyan prize-winning author on how art helped him cope with his father’s disappearance – and the joys of ProustHisham Matar is a Libyan author based in London and New York. He has written two autobiographical novels, In the Country of Men (2006) and Anatomy of a Disappearance (2011). Both are about a boy growing up in Cairo and Tripoli, as did Matar, and the abduction of the boy’s father from Egypt, where he had fled from Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. This is what happened to Matar’s father, the...

jennifer aniston: the one where she breaks the internet | rebecca nicholson | opinion

Friends? She’s got a few, thanks to her presence now on InstragramIf Instagram were a TV series, then it is in the middle of one of those season highlights that you know everyone will be talking about the next day. It’s the explosion episode of Bodyguard, Game of Thrones’s Red Wedding, any season finale of Succession.After the previous week gave birth to the thriller of the year, the Rooney/Vardy you-dunnit, last week provided another blockbuster moment. Jennifer Aniston signed up, posted a self...

patti smith: ‘reading mark twain gave me such anxiety i threw up’ | books

The author and musician on Jean Genet, Little Women and crying over Charlotte BrontëThe book I am currently readingI have just begun Space Invaders by Nona Fernández. It looks intriguing and is translated by the great Natasha Wimmer.The book that changed my lifeThe character of Jo March in Little Women drew me to decide to be a writer, and leave all scientific dreams behind. Continue reading...

'do you wind it up?': today’s teens tackle rotary phones, fm radio and map reading | technology

Their smartphones do everything, but can teenagers master old tech and life skills – from reading a map to setting an alarm clock?Three 15-year-old school children are on the phone, in class. No, it’s OK, they’re supposed to be; they’ve been told to, by me, with permission from their teacher. And they’re not actually on the phone, because they don’t know how to use it. It’s an old-fashioned rotary telephone, finger-in-the-dial variety. They’re tapping it, prodding at the holes. Hahahaha – they h...

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