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Culture vulture

Soaking up opera and singing along to Springsteen work wonders for Julie Powell

An opera buff

I started going to opera about 20 years ago: I'd seen bits in films and fancied seeing more. I went to La Boheme and it snowed on stage. I was captivated. I usually go to Opera North at Nottingham Theatre Royal with my husband and daughter. We prefer it when it's not in English and there are no subtitles. We just sit there and soak it in - the power of the music makes the emotion come through.

Treat in store

I'm booking for Opera North's Barber of Seville, which I've never seen. I'm hoping it will be a traditional production: we once went to Carmen set inside a giant ashtray. That put us off modern productions.

Born to run

Bruce Springsteen (pictured) is a family favourite too. I've seen him 12 times; the first was in a cattle shed in Staffordshire. It's the power of the concert and the way the crowd rocks to the music and sings along.

Favourite reading

The Earth People series by Jane Auel. There are five or six hefty volumes, about our origins as hunter-gatherers. Fiction, but full of information about how we used to hunt, how plants were used medicinally, how people survived the winters, what it was like to be a child. It's particularly interesting for me, as a teacher of children with complex special needs, because there's lots on early sign language before people used words.

Best film ever

Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The relationship between the little boy and the old cinema projectionist is so charming. It's beautiful.

Favourite galleries

I like the National Portrait Gallery in London. It's wonderful to see how artists have interpreted faces and character. The Kroller Muller Museum in Amsterdam has countless Van Goghs. Every time you turn a corner there's another fantastic painting that you've seen a million times, only it looks different because you can see the brush marks and pigments and all the colours come through.

Julie Powell, 44, is a key stage 3 teacher at Aspley Wood special school for children with complex needs and severe physical disabilities. She was talking to Karen Gold

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