sat 23/09/2017

19th century

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell Collection review - guilty pleasures at the National Gallery

If only a modest fuss is being made about the rare and prestigious loan currently residing in Trafalgar Square, it could be that the National Gallery is keen to forget the role of its former director, Dr Nicholas Penny, in a row about art...

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Pagliacci/L’enfant et les sortilèges, Opera North review - off and on with the motley

The first two one-acters in Opera North’s season called The Little Greats were unveiled on Saturday. There are six in all, scheduled on a mix-and-match basis so Leeds opera-goers can choose their own tapas menu: grab one show, choose from various...

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'Fanny Price’s pained silences gave me the impulse to write music for her'

When I first read Mansfield Park, some 30 years ago, I heard music. That doesn’t always happen when I read, and it certainly didn’t happen when I read other novels by Jane Austen. There is something about this particular book that provoked musical...

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La Bohème, Royal Opera review - spectacle and sentiment not yet in focus

“I’m not in the mood” – “non sono in vena” – sings aspiring poet Rodolfo as he settles down to write a lead article. Was it me, or had the mood not settled by the premiere of the Royal Opera’s first new production of Puccini's structurally perfect...

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The 'self-experimenter': Howard Brenton on Strindberg in crisis

I wrote The Blinding Light to try to understand the mental and spiritual crisis that August Strindberg suffered in February 1896. Deeply disturbed, plagued by hallucinations, he holed up in various hotel rooms in Paris, most famously in the Hotel...

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Prom 63 review: Gerstein, BBCSO, Bychkov - total mastery of orchestral sound

No-one, least of all the players, will forget Semyon Bychkov’s 2009 Proms appearance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a poleaxing interpretation of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony. They had already made the history books this Proms season with a...

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Princess Ida, National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company review - sparkling comedy, wobbly sets

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you have to be pretty silly to take Gilbert and Sullivan seriously. But even sillier not to. And positively heroic to revive the pair’s 1884 three-acter Princess Ida: the show which – updated to a...

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The Limehouse Golem review - horrible history with a twist

How many more throats must be slit in 19th-century London before the river of blood starts to clot? The Limehouse Golem follows the gory footprints of Sweeney Todd and various riffs on the Ripper legend. Based on Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 novel Dan Leno...

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Proms at...Cadogan Hall review: Pavel Kolesnikov - Chopin takes flight

If individual greatness is to be found in the way an artist begins and ends a phrase, or finds magical transitions both within and between pieces, then Pavel Kolesnikov is already up there with the top pianists. Listeners tuning in midway through...

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La Bayadère, Mariinsky Ballet review - a parade of delights

There are half as many performances of La Bayadère in this Mariinsky tour as performances of Swan Lake (four vs eight). The preponderance of Swan Lake is driven by audience demand, but if audiences knew what was good for them, they'd demand more...

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Prom 31 review: La Damnation de Faust, Gardiner - Berlioz tumbles out in rainbow colours

The road to hell is paved with brilliant ideas in Berlioz's idiosyncratic take on the Faust legend. John Eliot Gardiner proved better than anyone in last night's Prom that this splendidly lopsided "dramatic legend" can only be weakened by its many...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Tree of Wooden Clogs

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of Wooden Clogs (L’albero deli zoccoli) is a glorious fresco that reveals, over the course of an unhurried three hours and with a pronounced documentary element that virtually...

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