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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

Opera: Tosca

Monday night I caught the new production of Tosca at Covent Garden. There are two casts so I did not see the now infamous (non)star turn by Angela Gheorghiu but a fantastic performance by Catherine Naglestad who could act and had the voice for such a dramatic role. I got the ticket as A decided to swap his tickets for tonight with Saturday's final performance with Gheorghiu (and thankfully ignoring the advice from the opera house staff that he already had tickets to the better performance).

The opera sinks or swims on the strength of the soloist in playing the title role. Thankfully Naglestad was a tiger and not a Romanian kitten. Perhaps she turned up to rehearsals so she knew what to do with the heavy dress she was burdened with for the second and third act. She also was never drowned out by the orchestra. These were things you would think you would take for granted when going to see something at Covent Garden, but apparently they were missing at Saturday evening's performance …

As for the opera itself, Tosca has everything I look for when I want opera – high drama and great music – and this new production looked great and sounded great.

The biggest applause was saved for Fabio Armiliato in the role of Cavaradossi – who stepped in to replace for the remaining season Nicola Rossi Giordiano, who has had to withdraw due to illness. The production finishes this week.

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