Colors: Red Color

Top billing musicians from Latin America will be helping to further raise the tempo for the fourth annual Aruba Summer Music Festival on June 29 and 30.

This weekend festival on the Dutch Caribbean island offers two nights full of energy and captivating live music and will be hosted at The Harbor Arena, an ideal location in downtown Oranjestad.

Created on 2014 to further extend Aruba's established calendar of annual international musical events and cultural festivals, The Summer Festival has proved a hit with both visitors and locals.

'Aruba Summer Music Festival is a vibrant celebration, highlighting our island's cultural diversity, influential art, and dynamic musical talent,' said Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, CEO of Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA).

'We hope this seasonal extravaganza delights visitors and locals alike, as it encompasses our island's blended heritage and showcases the countless talents and unique artistry influenced by 90-plus nationalities.'

The line-up on Friday, June 29 will include energetic performances by Puerto Rican singer/songwriter, Ozuna, together with the Venezuelan singer and activist, Nacho. Popular local bands Buleria, D'Licious and 'N Fuzion complete the line-up.

For the following, Saturday, night the audience can expect to dance the night away to performances by Dominican merengue singer Eddy Herrera; the respected Venezuelan-born singer-songwriter Felipe Pipe Pelaez; the Grammy-nominated Puerto Rican salsa singer-songwriter Victor Manuelle; and the Colombian Fonseca, whose style embraces traditional music from his home country.

With the lapping Caribbean Sea as a backdrop, each year this rhythmic showcase attracts international visitors and musicians from around the world, enhancing Aruba's economy and highlighting its ever-growing art and multicultural presence.

The story of a legendary singer-songwriter and activist comes to life in the critically-acclaimed ‘Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone’ at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.


Celebrating the singer-songwriter’s political passion and musical genius, Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone,’ is a searing mix of storytelling and songs. Starring the Olivier award-nominated, Josette Bushell-Mingo, and accompanied by a live band, the show draws together tales from the life of Nina Simone and Josette’s own extraordinary career.


Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century. She was the consummate musical storyteller who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, and love through her work. Touching upon the 1960s civil rights movement, the show draws into parallel the struggles of the civil rights movement today and questions how far we’ve really come.


Having played to packed out audiences at London’s Young Vic and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the show now comes to Birmingham as part of a UK tour. Some of Nina Simone’s best-loved songs such as ‘Feeling Good,’ ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’ and ‘I Loves You Porg’y combine with a clear provocation in this production directed by Dritëro Kasapi who said: “The music of Nina Simone is really iconic. She was a true pioneer, and a virtuoso musical storyteller. Josette lays her heart on the line in this production, just like Nina did performance after performance.”


Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE added: “When I began the artistic process for Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone, I thought that the piece was going to be about my relationship with Nina. I have found that it is much more than that. The production is about our relationship to each other, through the prism of Blackness.”

Nina – A Story About Me And Nina Simone will be at The REP from 6 – 10 March


Fresh from her hugely successful debut show ‘What Would Beyoncé Do?!’, star of Comic Relief and Live at The Apollo, Luisa Omelan will bring the cream of UK stand-up talent to Birmingham this February for a one-off comedy bonanza with 100% of all proceeds donated to Helena’s Hospice Foundation.

Featuring a phenomenal line up of some of the best comics in the country, Dead Funny, will see ten of the brightest stars in UK stand-up unite for a 2-hour comedy extravaganza featuring guest appearances by Sara Pascoe, Mo Gilligan, Tom Allen, Ellie Taylor, Iain Stirling, Dan Nightingale, Tez Ilyas, Jen Brister, Suzi Ruffell and Aaron Twitchen.

In October 2017, Luisa had a full UK tour booked in the diary, which was expected to be her signature ‘party with jokes in’ style of comedy. However, in July of 2017, Luisa sadly lost her mother to a short but extremely brutal battle with cancer. Luisa still wanted to take the stage and honour the tour dates, so instead, she opted to talk about her mother’s journey with raw, unrelenting emotion; culminating in a huge emotional performance of ‘Luisa: Live’ at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire – receiving praise from the likes of BBC commissioner Shane Allen, and Dawn French.

During this tour, Luisa received donations from audience members to kick start a charity in her dearly beloved mum’s name. And so, Helena’s Hospice Foundation was born. The foundation helps hospices around the UK by buying things that are not a priority on their budget but make a world of difference to those people experiencing end-of-life care; such as baths, family and guest beds, Sky TV, vending machines, beauty treatments etc.

The acclaimed Tjungu Festival is returning to Ayers Rock Resort on 26-29 April 2018. In its fifth consecutive year, this vibrant celebration of Australian Indigenous culture features music, dance, film, fashion, food, sport and more. This year's festival will include a special focus on Indigenous art and a performance by Australian country music favourite Troy Cassar-Daley.

“Tjungu (pronounced tjoo-ngoo) means coming together in local Anangu language, and the festival brings together the best of traditional and contemporary Indigenous culture, providing a platform for exciting new performers, designers and producers. This year we are pleased to introduce a new art initiative which will shine a spotlight on prominent and emerging Central Australian artists,” said Andrew Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.

Highlights of the four day festival include an Indigenous Fashion Parade featuring top Indigenous model Samantha Harris, and celebrity chef Mark Olive will return to present the “Tastes of Tjungu Desert Dining Experience” under the stars, featuring a contemporary bush foods-inspired menu. Troy Cassar-Daley and rising young star Alice Skye will give a special, not-to-be missed performance. New for 2018 is the Tjungu Collective – an exhibition featuring art works from Central Australian Art Centres, and Tjungu Curates – an opportunity for festival-goers to meet artists and curators from the Art Centres.

The action-packed event also includes a local Anangu Welcome to Country with Inma dance; lively Indigenous art markets; a screening of the hit movie The Sapphires accompanied by the “Our Stories” documentary on Central Australian band on the rise, Apakatjah, who are also the festival's final night concert headliners, and musical performances from pop and soul singer Johanna Campbell and youth drumming group Drum Atweme.

The annual Tjungu Cup, including softball and AFL matches featuring local football teams, will play, supported by AFL hero and Indigenous rights ambassador Nicky Winmar. Guests will also enjoy regular free Indigenous activities including Bush Yarns, Anangu Way Language and Cultural classes, a Bush Food Experience, and an Ecology and Museum Tour of the region's history, geology, flora and fauna.

“Ayers Rock Resort is renowned for offering exceptional Indigenous Tourism experiences for guests and the Tjungu Festival takes this to an even higher level,” said Andrew.

Motown legends The Four Tops and The Temptations have announced a UK arena tour in November 2018, including a night at Arena Birmingham.  They will be joined by special guests, yet to be announced.


These two bands are true icons and epitomise the Motown sound that shook the world in the 60s and continues to delight audiences, old and new.


The Four Tops have a vast catalogue of hits, with 27 UK top 40 singles, which include I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) and the 1966 number one Reach Out (I’ll Be There). The line-up for the tour includes original member Duke Fakir plus Ronnie McNeir, Lawrence Payton and Harold ‘Spike’ Bonhart.


The Temptations were the first Motown band to win a Grammy Award – and have won three in total. In 2013, they were honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award: a deserved tribute to a band that helped shape Soul and R&B music as we know it. Amongst their classics are My Girl and Papa Was a Rolling Stone. The line-up is founder member, Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Larry Braggs and Willie Greene Jr.


“These songs are the soundtrack to our lives – we love performing them as much as ever, especially to the UK audiences” – says The Temptations’ Otis Williams –Duke Fakir agrees “We love coming to the UK –this is our favourite tour and we love the people of the UK … and they treat us like royalty. They love the music which makes it wonderful to perform on stage every night”

The Four Tops and The Temptations

Kevin Hart announced he is expanding his widely successful and massively hysterical ‘The Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour,’ adding over 100 new dates including one at Arena Birmingham.

Hart’s last multi-city domestic and international WHAT NOW comedy tour sold out large venues all over the world, including being the first comedian to sell out an NFL stadium, selling over 50,000 tickets in one show at Lincoln Financial Field.  Internationally, he sold out over a dozen arenas in the European market, selling over 150,000 tickets, and sold out arenas across Australia, selling 100,000 tickets. Hart’s hit comedy tour grossed over $100 million worldwide.

2017 was a banner year for Hart, his memoir I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons debuted at Number One on the New York Times Bestseller list and remained on the list for ten consecutive weeks.  The book also topped records on the Audible platform, selling over 100,000 copies in the first five weeks. Earlier in the year Hart voiced a title character in Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.  To close 2017, Kevin appeared in the Sony reboot of the classic film Jumanji alongside Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black.  Jumanji has been Kevin’s highest grossing box office release to date, the movie has made over $800 million worldwide.

Hart’s newest business venture is his digital platform the LOL NETWORK - Laugh Out Loud, the comedy brand and multi-platform network founded by Hart in partnership global content leader Lionsgate. Hart’s next feature film is Night School for Universal, a film in which he co-wrote, produces and stars in - all under the Hartbeat production banner.  The comedy follows a group of misfits who are forced to attend adult classes in the longshot chance they’ll pass the GED exam.

The eagerly anticipated 5th anniversary edition of the Singapore International Jazz Festival (SING JAZZ) 2018 returns to the iconic Marina Bay Sands from 6 to 8 April, and is all set to excite over 20,000 fans with a distinctively curated musical line-up. The three-night musical extravaganza spans across multiple stages around the integrated resort to feature Jazz and all its affiliated genres, including Soul, Blues, Latin, Funk, R&B, Hip-Hop, World Music and Electro Swing.

The Main Stage and The Late Show combine with an impressive 30-hours of live music by 12 mega-acts across the entire weekend. On Friday 6 April, Electro Swing sensations, Parov Stelar will headline the sunset sessions on The Main Stage by the waterfront at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza, introducing a massive weekend of music.

'Super Saturday' features a stunning programme comprising five-time Grammy Award-winning soul singer Lalah Hathaway, and jazz-pop genius Jamie Cullum on The Main Stage, with legendary hip-hop and soul artist Ms. Lauryn Hill headlining The Late Show.

Performing in Singapore for the very first time, Ms. Hill's show will be one of the most highly anticipated performances of the year, fittingly as her monumental album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, hailed as "one of the most incredible albums ever made", marks its 20th anniversary in 2018.

Setting the scene for party-goers, the electric atmosphere of The Late Show indoors at Sands Expo and Convention Centre will be designed as an intimate concert arena (complete with VIP tables), taking the late-night experience till 4am on both Friday 6 and Saturday 7 April.

A record 600 media and PR industry representatives attended TravMedia's second annual International Media Marketplace (IMM) USA, on Thursday, January 25, 2018, breaking new attendance levels for the global event program, now in its sixth year.

IMM USA connected 300 North American media with 285 PR representatives of 204 international travel brands in the impressive all-glass River Pavilion, a 45,000 square feet space on the top floor of the Jacob K. Javits Center. Collectively they participated in 9,628 pre-scheduled, one-on-one appointments – plus 4.5 hours of open networking which took place across multiple catered events.

Headline Sponsor Tourism Australia showcased ten destinations, products and experiences in the 'Australia Pavilion', with a coffee cart activation in the adjacent Media Lounge by Bluestone Lane, New York, who originally hail from Melbourne. Media enjoyed more than 700 of Australia's signature flat white coffees throughout the daylong program.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) continued their support of the IMM program with 21 CLIA Members joining a dedicated 'Cruise Capsule' within the event. More than 550 guests at the sit-down lunch enjoyed an address by Arnold Donald, CLIA Global Chairman and President and CEO, Carnival Corporation & plc, where topline results were exclusively revealed from the '2018 Cruise Travel Report: Annual Study of Attitudes, Behaviors and Travel Preferences'.

Tourism Australia also hosted the official cocktail reception for media and VIPs, timed to coincide with Australia Day celebrations. Guests were treated to wines by Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, gourmet pies and sausage rolls, and Australian ice-cream by Oddfellows including 'Tim Tam Slam', 'Lamington' and 'Hokey Pokey'. At the reception, Tourism Australia's managing director John O'Sullivan spoke on 'Discover Aboriginal Experiences' a new collective in their Signature Experiences program.

Nick Wayland, CEO and Founder of TravMedia said, "The tremendous success of our second annual IMM USA 2018 event would not have been possible without the record media and industry in attendance, and the incredible support of Headline Sponsor, Tourism Australia, as well as major exhibiting partner Cruise Lines International Association, who chose IMM to exclusively release their 2018 Cruise Travel Report with Global Chairman, Arnold Donald.”

Birmingham’s famed Glee Club is opening its doors for a special family show on Sunday 18 February 2018, complete with sweet treat mocktails.

The family-friendly afternoon performance, suitable for ages 7+, promises three leading acts including Britain’s Got Talent sensation Jonny Awsum and CBBC’s Howard Read.

Jonny Awsum hit the headlines after earning a standing ovation and reaching the semi-finals of ITV's Britain's Got Talent 2017, roping in presenters Ant and Dec during his appearances. An acclaimed feel-good musical comedian, he's played at major music festivals and sold out London theatres with his "show for kids of all ages, from 5 to 105!"

Combining animation, stand-up and song, Howard Read is one of the UK's leading family entertainers. His countless TV credits include CBBC, Sesame Street, Disney, Cartoon Network and more, with such shows as Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories and (of course) Little Howard’s Big Question.

Completing the line-up is comedian, podcaster and writer Laura Lexx, who’s toured with the likes of Russell Kane and Jason Manford. A rising star, she won Best MC in the 2017 Comic’s Comic Awards and was nominated as Best Compere in the 2016 and 2017 Chortle Comedy Awards.

Food is also available with a Sunday lunch themed bap (for adults, including a veggie option) and popcorn chicken with cheesy beans and salsa dip, or grilled mac' cheese veggie hot dog, for the younger audience members.

Meanwhile, the bar will be serving a selection of child-friendly Sweet Treat Mocktails, including Socks On The Beach (cranberry and orange juice with raspberry and apricot puree over crushed ice), and Dirty Smartie-ni (chocolate milkshake and crushed ice laced with coloured syrups and topped with whipped cream and Smarties).

Catch The Glee Family Show at The Glee Club, Hurst Street, Birmingham, on Sunday 18 February 2018. Doors open at 1pm.

 WWE LIVE is unique blend of sport and entertainment, combining in-ring match action with dramatic entertainment. Bursting with all the drama and energy of a rock concert, in a fun, lively and exciting environment, WWE Live in the ultimate in family entertainment! WWE Live returns to Birmingham on the 15 May 2018 at the Genting Arena

See your favourite WWE Superstars live in action including:  

Intercontinental Championship Match

Roman Reigns


The Miz


Seth Rollins


Braun Strowman


Cesaro & Sheamus


Finn Balor


Alexa Bliss


Sasha Banks




Line up subject to change

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the grandest ballets ever created, with a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa. The opulent world of Imperial Russian ballet, with its marvellous mixture of virtuoso dance, fairy tale characters and dazzling spectacle, has delighted audiences for over a hundred years. Sir Peter Wright’s 1984 production for Birmingham Royal Ballet, with designs by Philip Prowse, is acclaimed as one of the best in the world.

Resplendent in a shimmering palette of blush pink and gold, the wardrobe of The Sleeping Beauty is the largest and most complex of any ballet in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory. The expert costume and wig departments begin work as soon as the ballet is announced, preparing themselves for months of repairing and renovating original costumes, dressing wigs and ponytails, fitting new costumes on dancers and ensuring every fine detail will be ready for the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty.

The Sleeping Beauty wardrobe – facts and figures:

The Sleeping Beauty is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s biggest production in terms of costumes and wigs, and the only which requires an entire articulated lorry just for wardrobe.

There are 66 wigs, 31 ponytails and 1 beard in The Sleeping Beauty, all prepared and applied by a dedicated wig department.

There are 40 rails of costumes and 17 wicker skips in The Sleeping Beauty wardrobe – including 4 rails of Princess Aurora tutus alone.

The dancer playing Princess Aurora wears 3 tutus throughout the ballet. With 9 ballerinas cast in the lead role, each with their own complete set of costumes, the wardrobe team must prepare 27 Aurora tutus.

It takes approximately 1 week to make a tutu base, or skirt, and about 4 weeks to complete the entire process. There are usually three fittings with the dancer who will be wearing the tutu.

The court lady dresses weigh just over 1 stone each, and the dress for the evil fairy Carabosse weighs much more.

Many of the original costumes are still in use today, including Birmingham Royal Ballet Assistant Director Marion Tait’s own Princess Aurora tutu.

Throughout the run of The Sleeping Beauty, the costume staff can spend up to 3 hours each day repairing costumes.

The Sleeping Beauty produces so much laundry that the washing machines are in constant use throughout the show.

The wardrobe includes 8 baskets of shoes – some ballerinas will use 10 pairs of pointe shoes or more throughout the tour.

On Friday 19 January, for one night only, the acclaimed Royal Ballet Sinfonia returns to the Symphony Hall, Birmingham for their spectacular Evening of Music and Dance. Compered by David Bintley, led by Principal Conductor Paul Murphy and joined on stage by Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers, this annual event is an extraordinary evening of breath-taking music and stunning dance in one of the best concert halls in the world.

The programme includes a wide variety of music and dance, from well-loved classics to some hidden gems selected by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conductors. Amongst others, this year's repertory will include danced excerpts from Don Quixote, La Fille mal gardée and The Sleeping Beauty, alongside Humperdinck's overture to Hansel and Gretel, Korngold's suite from the film The Adventures of Robin Hood and Elgar's beautiful miniature, Sospiri. The programme also includes a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon's After The Rain; a company premiere for Birmingham Royal Ballet.

This performance will be particularly special because, after an incredible 18 year career with Birmingham Royal Ballet, principal dancer Iain Mackay will give his final performance at the Evening of Music and Dance. One of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s most valued and versatile dancers, Iain’s ability to take on everything from classical princes to intense dramatic roles has seen him become a firm favourite with audiences at Birmingham Hippodrome and at the Company’s touring venues across the UK.

Birmingham Bach Choir’s annual Come And Sing! event offers singers an opportunity to rehearse with the one of the West Midlands’ leading choirs (10 Feb 2018, Selly Oak Methodist Church, B’ham).


Under the direction of celebrated conductor Paul Spicer, 2018’s Come And Sing! explores choruses from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s rousing and mournful Requiem (or to give it it’s full name, Requiem In D Minor).


Requiem was commissioned in 1791, the same year Mozart completed his famed opera, The Magic Flute, and the same year he died, at the age of just 35. Though the work wasn’t fully completed by the composer at the time of his death, incomplete parts were finished by his student Süssmayr and it’s now “one of the most famous choral works in the classical repertoire” (ClassicFM).


Established in 1919, Birmingham Bach Choir is one of the West Midlands’ oldest and most distinguished musical groups. Regularly performing at major concert venues their repertoire spans works from the great composers, to contemporary and modern pieces.


“Our annual Come And Sing! is one of the most popular events in our calendar,” says Birmingham Bach Choir Chair Sarah Platt. “It’s a chance for singers to really explore a familiar piece of music – in this case Mozart’s wonderful Requiem - led by one of the UK’s most respected choral leaders. It all makes for an inspiring and enjoyable afternoon.”

55 years ago in February 1963 The Beatles brought their Cavern Club show to King's Heath's old Ritz Ballroom next to the Hare and Hounds.  Now history will repeat itself when current resident band Made In Liverpool bring their Cavern Club show to the Hare & Hounds as part of King's Heath Walk Of Fame's unique day long celebration of this historic event.

The Ritz Ballroom was one of four venues run by Irish Couple Ma and Pa Regan in the 1960's. Originally scheduled to appear in January, The Beatles had been prevented by blizzard like conditions from getting to the Ritz Ballroom from another of the Regans' venues - the Plaza at Old Hill. When they did eventually make it on 15 February, they had just got to No. 1 in the charts with Please, Please Me and had to enter the rear of the venue from Milford Place by a ladder!

From 3 pm to 6 pm a great selection of local musicians will perform their favourite Beatles songs in a special pre- Valentine's Day All You Need Is Love session at Fletchers Bar. Expect songs in a range of musical styles from the jazz soul of Blue Silk, the folk rock of Mr Apollo, the Ukulele Theatre, Peters plays Lennon and the notorious Eggmen plus more fantastic local musicians still to be announced.

At 7 pm doors will then open at the award winning Hare and Hounds for the evening concert by the top tribute band Made In Liverpool to conclude Beatles Fest 2018.

Born and bred in Liverpool, the band perform at venues world-wide with recent performances being as far afield as Russia, USA, Australia, Switzerland, Europe and the Far East

Originally named The Fab Four they were the first Beatles tribute band to play the Cavern when it re-opened and are mentioned in music writer and Merseybeat historian Spencer Leigh’s book ‘The Cavern, The Most Famous Club in the World’. And they still continue to play at the Cavern on a regular basis.

Their performance as The Beatles has been described as unique, uncontrived, exciting and mind blowing!

All the members of the band are accomplished musicians and several have appeared in musical productions about The Beatles at the legendary Liverpool Everyman Theatre and throughout the UK.

The audience can expect to hear nearly two hours of The Beatles Greatest Hits.

A celebration concert in memory of one of Birmingham's greatest musicians, David Bowie’s drummer, and a series of concerts featuring some of the best contemporary female bandleaders are among the highlights of Jazzlines' city-wide Winter/ Spring 2018 programme.

The Andy Hamilton Centenary Celebration (25 Mar 2018, Town Hall, B'ham) celebrates the life of the legendary jazz musician Andy Hamilton MBE. Born in Jamaica on 26 March 1918, the tenor saxophonist formed his first band in 1928 before moving to the UK in 1949. Settling in Birmingham, he eventually became a major figure in the city's vibrant music scene. Much missed, Andy passed away in 2012, though his influence continues. Headlining the special concert is The Notebenders Big Band, formed by Andy in the local community of Ladywood, who'll perform alongside invited guests and past members.

Multi-award winning vocalist Zara McFarlane (7 Feb 2018, Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, B'ham) explores British-Jamaican identity with her heady combination of jazz, reggae, calypso and more. Signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, her recent album, Arise, was produced by drummer/ producer Moses Boyd (of Binker and Moses fame). A lyrically conscious songwriter, Zara has earned a string of awards including a MOBO, Urban Music Award and JazzFM Award, and was featured singer in the RSC's recent production of Anthony and Cleopatra, performing music written by Laura Mvula.

My Iris is the latest ensemble project from saxophonist, BASCA British Composer Award winner and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Trish Clowes. Well-known for her orchestral arrangements, My Iris sees Clowes explores smaller scale arrangements with equal confidence (25 Jan 2018, Eastside Jazz Club, B'ham). Joining her on saxophone at Birmingham’s newest jazz venue are Chris Montague (guitar), Ross Stanley (piano and Hammond organ) and James Maddren (drums).

Two piano/ saxophone duos take to the Symphony Hall stage for an intimate performance on 28 March 2018. After working together on the London jazz scene in various large ensembles, including the London Jazz Orchestra, Tori Freestone (Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra, UK All Star Big Band) and Alcyona Mick (Natacha Atlas, Jerry Dammers Spatial Orchestra, Zoe Rahman) have fused their different approaches to present a set of original material and contemporary standards with a twist. They're joined by the Stan Sulzmann / Nikki Iles Duo, who've been working together, on and off, for some 20 years.

Recognised as one of the world's leading drummers, Mark Guiliana has worked with such artists as Brad Mehldau (as duo Mehliana), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam) and neo-soul singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello. But it's his contribution to David Bowie's breath-taking final album, Blackstar, for which he is arguably best known. The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet (27 Apr 2018, CBSO Centre, Bham) sees him perform selections from his acclaimed album, Jersey, an infectious collection of boundary-pushing acoustic tracks that includes an instrumental reading of Bowie’s poignant Where Are We Now?

The Royal Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto – a work the composer himself called his ‘best opera’ – live in cinemas worldwide on Tuesday 16 January.

Rigoletto was performed 250 times in the 10 years following its premiere in 1851 and has become one of the most popular of all operas. Featuring many musical highlights, the opera includes the well-known arias ‘Questa o quella’ and ‘La donna è mobile’ (both made popular by tenor Luciana Pavarotti, among others) and the much-loved Act III quartet ‘Bella figlia dell’amore’, which was recently heard in the 2012 British comedy-drama film Quartet.

The opera’s story follows Rigoletto, the hunchbacked court jester to the libertine Duke of Mantua, who is cursed by the father of one of the Duke’s latest conquests for his mocking laughter. When the Duke turns his attention to Rigoletto’s own daughter Gilda, it seems the curse is taking effect, and the jester must plot to protect her from the Duke’s immoral intent.

Directed by David McVicar, the production highlights the cruelty at the heart of Verdi’s tragic opera. Featuring dark, Renaissance-inspired set and costume designs, the staging creates the shocking and insidious world within which this gripping tale unfolds.

Alexander Joel conducts a cast led by Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias in the title role and featuring American tenor Michael Fabiano as the Duke of Mantua, alongside English soprano Lucy Crowe as Gilda.