The V&A is my most favourite place on earth. There is no better place to wander around on a winter Sunday afternoon. Don’t think that the V&A is some crusty museum however, for many years they have staged a number of blockbuster exhibitions that attract many thousands of people. I will never forget their David Bowie nor the Alexander McQueen shows and neither will many others. This time here’s a chance to explore the history of opera from its origins in the 17th century, to experimental modern productions and learn about the lives of some of opera’s most influential performers from Marie Callas to Plácido Domingo. Opera is quite an enigma to most of us but I believe that this exhibition could help remove the prejudice and misconceptions many people still have about the art form. Objects going on display will include Dalí’s costume design for Peter Brook’s 1949 production of Salome. Visitors will wear headphones and hear and see opera performances from around the world as they tour the show. The BBC will also present a season of programmes to coincide with the show, including a BBC2 documentary series with Lucy Worsley and Antonio Pappano, exploring the same operas and cities as the show.
- Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be at the V&A 30 September-25 February.
V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL
I have enjoyed Sondheim’s music since forever. He creates the most wonderful musicals, classic in many ways but with a twist and the most clever lyrics that reflect modern life. You think you might not know his music but go and see his musical Follies and you’ll discover that in fact you do. Set in New York, 1971,there’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre as the next day the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. There are some great costumes with glamorous outfits from the seventies and the sparkle of the show girls. The production has some wonderful choreography too. Everyone in it is superb including Imelda Staunton who is unforgettable. If you can’t make it to the National Theatre it is also showing live in cinema’s around the country. If you have never seen a musical give this one a try, I promise that you’ll find it entertaining and quite poignant too.
Royal National Theatre, Upper Ground, Lambeth, London, SE1 9PX
For a while now Hoppers restaurant has been the go to place for the Soho cognoscenti. They offer Sri Lankan style food, beautifully executed and delicious too. The restaurant has been a great success but being small and with no reservations it is hard to get a seat. That is all about to change as they are opening in Marylebone in a larger space on two floors and are taking bookings. Upstairs will be more day time in a white room filed with verdant plants and downstairs will be moodier (including four ‘vault’ areas set into the wall for 6-8 people) which is where you’ll also find the open kitchen. Of course, they’re playing the crowd-pleasers, including their famed hoppers (bowl shaped fermented rice & coconut
milk pancakes filled with chutneys and sambols), and kothus (a Sri Lankan street dish with finely chopped roti & lamb/seafood). On top of all that, you’ll find the likes of a Jaffna beef rib fry, a banana leaf roasted bream with green mango and madras onion sambol, and a half rack of Northern-Sri Lankan-style lamb chops with cucumber. And finally, there are, the feasts unique to the site, and coming in either carni or vegi, these huge menus are taken by the whole table, and involve five courses of rotis, hoppers, dosas, burianis, chutneys, and more, making them essentially a ‘best-of’ compilation.
Hoppers Soho, 49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG
An old favourite of mine is Bar Termini. Squeezing into the Bar Termini on Soho’s Old Compton Street is all part of the charm that helped cement its status as one of the finest places to drink in London. The tiny bar serving equally tiny coffees and cocktails is literally the toast of the town. So it’s good news that a second, larger bar has arrived.
The same elegant Italian look has been carried across to this suitably sophisticated Marylebone location, with muted green leather banquettes and luggage rails up above. A small terrace outside offers an authentic alfresco experience. Staff milled about the chequerboard floor, singing and whistling along to old Italian tunes, or perched at our table to offer advice on the menu – including offering samples. Not that you’ll need much help, since the menu is almost a carbon copy of the one in Soho; an inspiringly anti-choice drinks list with a range of Negronis and Aperitivos on offer. As before, they’re all liquid perfection: the Olive Bellini is a gorgeously balanced savoury number and the Spritz Termini, made with rhubarb cordial, is awakening as ever.
What the extra space has allowed is a fully functioning kitchen for snacking from breakfast right through to the evening.
Bar Termini Centrale, 31 Duke St, Marylebone, London, W1U 1LG
After 24 year in the same location I am about to move into a new studio. The new place is on the ground floor of a Georgian house in Marylebone. With all the original features I am now renovating the rooms to their original perfection. I to want to have a twist though and have found the ideal thing to do just that. During Design Week in London I discovered a manufacturer of convex mirrors, ideal for above the original fireplace. It’s from B and S Mirrors who have a heavily antiqued version which looks just like the moon. Do have a look at their bronze and turquoise versions too that would look perfect in a modern interior.