tue 30/05/2017

19th century

An Octoroon review - slavery reprised as melodrama in a vibrantly theatrical show

Make no mistake about it, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a playwright to watch. London receives its first opportunity to appraise his vibrant, quizzical talent with this production of An Octoroon, for which he received an OBIE in 2014 (jointly with his...

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theartsdesk on the Seine: a second new concert hall for Paris

It's funny how Parisians grumble about any major new venue which lies outside their chic central stamping ground. First they moan about having to trundle out to the Philharmonie concert hall in the Cité de la Musique, and now they look as if they'll...

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet review - 'every ballet fan should see this'

Sure, there are things not to like about Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling. Confusing plot. Plethora of characters. Unsympathetic (anti-)hero. Borderline melodramatic choreography. Tense, scary dénouement. But to be at the Royal Opera House last night...

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Lady Macbeth review - 'memorably nasty'

The Scottish play’s traces are faint in this bloody, steamy tale of feminist psychosis. Based on Nikolai Leskov’s Dostoevsky-commissioned novel Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, its 1865 setting is transferred from Tsarist Russia to Northumberland....

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theartsdesk Q&A: Horn-player Alec Frank-Gemmill

Traditional musical formats rarely suit the individual talent, but the highly-motivated player always finds a way. I first got to talk to Alec Frank-Gemmill in the very sociable surroundings of the Pärnu Festival in Estonia, a gathering most...

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Dvořák Requiem, BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, Bělohlávek, Barbican

Not your usual blockbuster for Holy Week, this. In other words, neither of the Bach Passions but a Requiem, and not – these days, at any rate – one of the more often-performed ones (it's not among the 79 works listed in The BBC Proms Guide...

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Patience/Tosca, English Touring Opera

How well do you know your bad Victorian poetry? “When through the purple corridors the screaming scarlet Ibis flew/In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the moaning Mandragores.” Go on, guess the author. Or how about this? “What time the poet...

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A Quiet Passion, review - 'Cynthia Nixon is an indrawn Emily Dickinson'

Is there something about the recessive life of Emily Dickinson that defies dramatisation? I'm beginning to think so after A Quiet Passion. The Terence Davies film may attempt a more authentic take on the unrelievedly bleak, and also great, 19th-...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Ludwig

No-one has ever matched costume drama to psychological depth quite like Luchino Visconti. Much of it has to do with what Henry James termed a "divided consciousness": as a nobleman who became a communist in World War Two and was relatively open...

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The Lottery of Love, review - 'the fragile charm of artifice'

The social permutations of love are beguilingly explored in the 90-minute stage traffic of Marivaux’s The Lottery of Love, with Paul Miller’s production at the Orange Tree Theatre making the most of the venue’s unencumbered in-the-round space to...

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Buchbinder, Philharmonia, Hrůša, RFH

It's a rare concert when nothing need be questioned about the orchestral playing. The usual nagging doubts – about whether any of the London orchestras has a recognisable sound-identity, or whether Rattle's swipe agains the two main London concert...

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Royal Opera

Recent British-based productions have taken Wagner's paean to creativity, the reconciliation of tradition and the individual talent, at face value. Graham Vick's long-serving Covent Garden colourfest, with its brilliant staging of the night brawl;...

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