E L 11-1 EL V R -wrm-
A monthly selection of forthcoming events recommended by The Spectator's regular critics
Billy Budd, Grand Theatre, Leeds (0532 459351), from 11 December. Strong revival of Graham Vick's production of Britten's opera. Jason Howard sings the title role for the first time, with Nigel Robson as Vere and John Tomlinson as his antagonist Claggart. Elgar Howarth conducts.
The Magic Flute, Theatre Royal, Glasgow (041 332 9000), from 17 December. A bright young cast has been assembled for Martin Duncan's new production of Mozart's opera for the panto season. Nicholas McGegan conducts.
Alcina, Covent Garden (071 240 1066), from 18 December. A Handel opera last seen here with Joan Sutherland as the eponymous sorceress returns in a new production by Stephen Wadsworth and a mouth-watering cast led by Yvonne Kenny, Ann Murray and Anthony Rolfe Johnson. John Fisher, former director of the Fenice opera house in Venice, conducts. Rupert Christiansen
Trelawny of the Wells, Comedy (071 867 1045), 7 December. Not the Julian Slade musical but the original Pinero, starring Sarah Brightman, Sir Michael Hordern, Helena Bonham-Carter et al.
Carousel, Lyttelton (071 928 2252), 10 December. First major revival in 40 years over here of the Rodgers- Hammerstein classic in unbroken stage run through Easter. Nick Hytner directs, MacMillan did the choreography just before his sudden death.
Cyrano de Bergerac, Theatre Royal, Haymarket (071 930 8800), 14 December. Robert Lindsay buckles his swash in the wake of Depardieu.
Gifts of the Gorgon, Pit (071 638 8891), 16 December. Long-awaited new Peter Shaffer. Judi Dench and Michael Pennington star for Peter Hall.
Hamlet, Barbican (071 638 8891), 18 December. Kenneth Branagh rejoins RSC for what is promised as the uncut version.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Royalty (071 494 5090), 22 December. One of a diminishing band of central London Christmas treats for children. Sheridan Morley
Claude Rogers, Ben Uri Art Gallery, 21 Dean Street, WI, till 20 December. Paintings and drawings spanning 50 years by founder member of Euston Road School. Trophies of Empire, Arnolfini, Bristol. Columbus's quincentenary gives excuse to 15 artists to deplore the beastliness of empires.
Joan Brossa, Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, W6. Poetic and experimental works by leading Catalan artist, friend of Miro.
Patrick Caulfield Paintings 1964-1992, Serpentine Gallery, W2. Rather bland post-Pop simplifications of everyday. Ideal for Camden kitchens. Giles Auty
The Royal Ballet's all-Ashton Christmas at Covent Garden (071 240 1066) opens on 4 December with the stage adaptation of its 1971 feature film Tales of Beatrix Potter on a double bill with The Dream. On 23 December, Viviana Durante takes the title role in Cinderella, followed by the Bolshoi's Nina Ananiashvili making her debut on Boxing Day.
Pigling Bland and the Black Berk- shire Pig in Talcs of Beatrix Potter
Nederlands Dans Theater, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (0274 752000), 8-12 December. The company's first visit to Britain since 1975. Seven of the eight works being performed are by NDT's artistic director and chief choreographer Jiri Kylian, whose Janacek signature pieces Sinfonietta and Return to a Strange Land are featured next to more recent
creations. Sophie Constanti
Christmas is celebrated as usual at St John's Smith Square with a series of choral concerts: on the 18th with the Choir of New College Oxford singing carols old and new; on the 19th by the Hilliard Ensemble with a programme entitled Mediaeval Christmas Music from Bohemia, Slovakia, Poland and the old Hungarian Empire; on the 20th and 22nd by The Sixteen, singing unaccompanied music and Bach's Christmas Oratorio respectively; and on the 21st by the Choir of Christ Church Oxford.
Oliver Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time will be performed at the Purcell Room on the 12th by Double Image. Other works in the programme, designed as a tribute to Messiaen, include Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, Ravel's Chansons madecasses and a world premiere by Erika Fox. Peter Phillips
Fruit freaks should be aware that there are two days of 'Christmas Fayre' at Brogdale Farm, Brogdale Road, Faversham, Kent, on 12 and 13 December, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is a chance to ask an expert from the Brogdale Horticultural Trust to identify any fruit which you grow or resolve any query about growing fruit. There will be tasting of apple and pear varieties, together with juices, ciders and English wines.
Ursula Buchan CRAFTS Antique and 20th-century Jewellery, Spink & Son, 5 King Street, SW1, 1-23 December. A good selection of Arts and Crafts, fine Indian jewellery and well- researched early 20th-century pieces, from £500.
Faberge from Private Collections, Wartski, 14 Grafton Street, WI, 2-15 December. Entrance fee £5, all proceeds to the Samaritans. This sounds like a good selection exhibited in a good cause.
Crafts in Performance, Crafts Council, 44a Pentonville Road, N1, till 3 January. Exciting range of work: jewellery for Jarman's Caravaggio, headdresses for Sally Potter's Orlando, surreal puppetry, the Little Angel Theatre puppets, Asian from the BBC's Chronicles of Narnia. Tanya Harrod
Gary Glitter, Birmingham NEC, 11, 12 December; Wembley Arena, 17 December. Christmas is all about turkeys, and none comes fatter or more ready for roasting than G. Glitter Esq., who hasn't made a decent record in decades but whose concerts remain masterpieces of shameless excess.
Also recommended: The B-52s, touring, 14-20 December; Simply Red, back yet again, Wembley Arena, 6-8 December, Birmingham NEC, 14-16 December; Del Amitri, touring, 7-23 December; Squeeze, Town & Country, 20, 21 December; and, no doubt full of seasonal cheer as always, Morrissey, Alexandra Palace, 19 December.
Into the West (PG), starring Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin and written by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot), about gypsies in Ireland, has magic cross-generational appeal and would be perfect for a family Christmas outing.
Death Becomes Her (PG), starring Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, is a dotty but amazing comedy. Never before has cartoon mutation been so convincing translated into a conventional film.
The Bodyguard stars Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. I recommend it without reservation
to all bodyguards. Vanessa Letts