wed 26/07/2017

19th century

Don Quixote, Mariinsky Ballet review - gentle charm, impressive principals

One of the most Russian things you can do in ballet is dance Don Quixote, which is 100 percent set in Spain. Don't think too hard about it, and definitely don't think too hard about the plot (which is barely there). The point is, the Mariinsky -...

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Prom 10 review: Aurora Orchestra, Collon – a revolution taken to heart

When a trail-blazing orchestra takes on a world-transforming work, it would be pointless to leave the staid old rules of concert etiquette intact. Not only did the Aurora Orchestra under Nicholas Collon stretch their repertoire of symphonies...

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Prom 9 review: Fidelio, BBCPO, Mena - classy prison drama rarely blazes

What a pity Beethoven never composed an appendage to Fidelio called The Sorrows of Young Marzelline. One crucial moment apart, the music he gives to his second soprano in his only opera isn't his best, but Louise Alder so lived the role of the...

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El-Khoury, Spyres, Hallé, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - bel canto lives again

Unless you're an undiscriminating fan of bel canto, the lesser Italian and French operas of the 1830s and '40s - that's to say, not Verdi's Nabucco and Macbeth or Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini - need to be approached with caution. Once you've lowered...

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The Beguiled review - silly but seriously well-made

An isolated girls' school finds its hermetic routine shattered by the arrival of Colin Farrell, who wreaks sexual and emotional havoc as only this actor can. Playing a Civil War deserter with a gammy leg, Farrell's Corporal McBurney is at first...

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DVD: Cézanne et moi

For viewers not familiar with the background story of Cézanne et moi – which surely includes most of us without specialist knowledge of late 19th century French artistic and literary culture – the moi of this lavish yet curiously uninvolving double...

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Buxton Festival review - early Verdi, earlier Mozart and refreshing Britten

“The subject is neither political nor religious; it is fantastical” wrote Verdi to the librettist Piave about his opera Macbeth. “The opera is not about the rise of a modern fascist: nor is it about political tyranny. It is a study in character”...

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The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Oh those Victorians!  Hail Prince Albert whose far-sighted ambition led to Albertopolis, embracing museums, galleries, universities and the Royal Albert Hall. And what in the early 21st century do you do with the Victoria & Albert Museum...

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Die Walküre, Grange Park Opera review - imaginative and intelligent

Grange Park Opera is aiming big. The company is in a new venue, the grounds of West Horsley Place in Surrey, where they have built themselves a spectacular new opera house in less than a year. The building is not yet complete, but is close enough to...

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Sargent, Dulwich Picture Gallery review - wonders in watercolour

This sparkling display of some four score watercolours from the first decade of the last century throw an unfamiliar light on the artistry of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the last great swagger portrait painter in the western tradition. None...

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Brenda Maddox: Reading the Rocks review - revelations of geology

Reading the Rocks has a provocative subtitle, “How Victorian Geologists Discovered the Secret of Life”, indicating the role of geology in paving the way to an understanding of the evolution of our planet as a changing physical entity that was to...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Minute Bodies - The Intimate World of F Percy Smith

F Percy Smith was a maverick film-maker whose most important work was created in a house in suburban Southgate, North London. Born in Islington in 1880, he joined the Quekett Microscopical Club as a teenager, all the better to pursue a healthy...

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