wed 27/07/2016

Christmas

Dickensian, BBC One

There are around 800 pages in a Dickensian doorstopper and it has been said around 800 times that if Dickens were working today he would be a show runner on a soap. Finally it has come to pass. Andrew Davies attempted something similar with his...

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Yuletide Scenes: Giotto's Nativity

Some time in the late 1280s, the artist Cimabue was wandering in the Tuscan countryside when he chanced upon a boy shepherd. According to Vasari, whose Lives of the Artists is the source for most such stories, the boy was “portraying a sheep from...

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Christmas Oratorio, AAM, Egarr, Barbican

Relatively recent tweaks to the abundant London concert scene have resulted in top-end events right up to Christmas. We have in part to thank the seasonal festival at St John’s Smith Square, postponing the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s...

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Yuletide Scenes: Ben Nicholson's Christmas Night, 1930

On this dark, silent night as the world holds its breath in anticipation, everything is still but for the occasional whisper of a breeze ruffling the curtains. It is so quiet that a deer, that most nervous of creatures, has tiptoed all the way up to...

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Ex Cathedra, St Paul's Church Birmingham

Is it possible for a carol concert to have a cult following? Ex Cathedra's annual Christmas Music by Candlelight performances in St Paul’s Church have quietly grown into a Birmingham institution. The audience has evolved its own rituals: camping out...

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The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, National Theatre Wales

While Christmas is the season when traditional theatres trot out the tired clichés of panto, the ever-innovative National Theatre Wales have decided, in their wisdom, to stage a surreal, psychedelic theatre-gig at the Sophia Gardens cricket ground...

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A Christmas Carol, Welsh National Opera

Dickens’s public readings from his novels were almost as famous and popular as the novels themselves. He would write special scripts that gave prominence to particular characters and that dramatized the salient events of each story; and of all these...

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Christmas legends are not born; they are made. In the case of the Nutcracker, its Christmas indispensability in Britain and America stems not from the original 1892 St Petersburg production, but from 1950s reinterpretations by emigré Russians (...

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The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre

I habitually skipped over Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl in my childhood fairy tale compendium because I couldn't bear the sadness (see also: The Happy Prince *sob*). Parents of sensitive children will therefore be relieved to know that...

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A Wondrous Mystery, Stile Antico, Temple Church

It’s boasting, but surely true, to claim that London offers the biggest number of classy Christmas concerts in the world. How could it be otherwise with established seasonal festivals based around Spitalfields, St John’s Smith Square and the over-...

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CD: Astrocolor – Lit Up: Music for Christmas

Any Christmas album worth its salt draws from the classics. Versions of, say, “We Three Kings”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Silent Night”, “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” and “The Little Drummer boy” are compulsory. What is not so...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Christmas CDs, Part 1

 Hindemith: The Long Christmas Dinner American Symphony Orchestra/Leon Botstein (Bridge)Hindemith's delectable pantomime Tuttifäntchen remains one of my favourite seasonal discs, and now we have the first English-language recording of one of...

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