mon 20/11/2017

17th century

Best of 2016: Art

Before we consign this miserable year to history, there are a few good bits to be salvaged; in fact, for the visual arts 2016 has been marked by renewal and regeneration, with a clutch of newish museum directors getting into their stride, and...

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Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar at King's Cross

If you are new to the Donmar Warehouse all-female stagings of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Henry IV – 2012 and 2014 respectively – the biggest surprise is not so much that these highly masculine dramas are performed entirely by women. It is their...

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Cymbeline, RSC, Barbican

“Britain is a world by itself.” It could be the slogan of the year – and rather longer, probably – but the phrase comes from Shakespeare’s late romance Cymbeline. Its Act III scene, in which Britain announces that it is breaking its...

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10 Questions for Director Lucy Bailey

Theatre was not Lucy Bailey’s first target. At school she was a flautist, headed probably for music. Then, in her gap year, she took a job as a telephonist at Glyndebourne, and noticed a vigorous man with a beard – name of Peter Hall – moving people...

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Adriaen van de Velde, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Oh, those dogs: just a flick of the brush, and there they are, bursting with life. Pets, hunting dogs, companions, strays: romping on beaches, or in Dutch forests, living on farms and in imagined arcadias. Adriaen van de Velde was a 17th century...

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10 Questions for Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner

The Lobgesang "lies very near my heart," wrote Mendelssohn. And the composer was so self-critical that the published order of his symphonies bears no resemblance to their composition: this "Hymn of Praise", known as the Second, was the penultimate...

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Beyond Caravaggio, National Gallery

Cheekily bottom-like, their downy skin blushing enticingly, these must be the sexiest apricots ever painted. If you held out your hand, you might just be able to touch them, there in the foreground of what is thought to be Caravaggio’s earliest...

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The Fairy Queen, AAM, Barbican

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is a riddle to which directors must find an answer. The problems posed by a work whose theatrical characters have no foothold in the musical interludes, whose text is an awkward composite of almost-Shakespeare and not-at-...

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The Libertine, Haymarket Theatre

Restoration theatre has the reputation of being a rake’s paradise – all those randy young aristos in hot pursuit of buxom wenches. But even in the depths of 17th-century playwriting, there was room for repentance and regret among the discarded...

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Imogen, Shakespeare's Globe

What's in a name? Imogen has a softer music to it than Cymbeline, the only one of Shakespeare's plays in which the title character is marginal, and the daughter certainly dominates in a way that her regal father doesn't. So Cymbeline Renamed, as...

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The Alchemist, RSC, Barbican

The confidence trick to end all tricks, Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist is so utterly recognisable, so clearly contemporary, that to update the setting feels a bit like underlining the point in red pen. In this transfer from Stratford's Swan Theatre...

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Two Quixotes, The English Concert, Bicket, Wigmore Hall

They dreamed the impossible dream in 1970, turning aspects of Cervantes' Don Quixote into the musical Man of La Mancha. But Purcell, Eccles and the lively dramatist Thomas D'Urfey - anyone know his hit song "The Fart"? - got there first nearly 300...

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