tue 31/03/2020

Opera Features

Classical music/Opera direct to home: 3 - Two Jenůfas

David Nice

We're learning fast what works and what doesn't with online arts offerings in a time of coronavirus. A distinguished young pianist I know rightly pointed out to me yesterday that however good the artists sharing their talents with us from their living/music rooms, and however reassuring it is to be able to join them at a set time, bad sound cancels out most of the pleasure (though he didn’t rule out making an appearance himself).

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Sondheim at 90 Songs: 2 - 'Epiphany'/'A Little Priest'

David Nice

Two numbers, one hair-raising slice of music-theatre. When Sondheim's paying homage to the older, revue type of musical, you can extract a string of top hits: Follies, from which Marianka Swain chose "I'm Still Here" yesterday, could yield at least half a dozen more choices, Company almost as many.

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'Divinity is all around us': soprano Susanna Hurrell on Ravi Shankar's 'Sukanya'

Susanna Hurrell

In 2010, my best friend and I made a whimsical decision to go backpacking in India over the Easter break. I had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy through exposure to the teachings of the ancient Vedas, and through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, so I jumped on the opportunity to experience the culture that gave birth to so much wisdom and ancient knowledge.

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Jessye Norman, 1945-2019

David Nice

She was recording Carmen in Paris, and the Radio France auditorium was packed with the press, asking such dazzling questions as "have you been up the Eiffel Tower yet?" and "what do you think of the French men?". I thought, given the statuesque approach, it might be best to wonder if there was a nobility in the characterisation.

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'This goes beyond music and drama': tenor Nicky Spence on Martinů's 'The Greek Passion'

Nicky Spence

I’m a big fanboy of Czech music, Janáček and Martinů especially, but I’d never seen The Greek Passion before being cast as Manolios in Opera North’s new production, as it remains quite a rarity in the opera house. For those who don’t know the work, it tells of a group of refugees who arrive in a villa

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Making new waves: Royce Vavrek on forging a libretto from Lars von Trier

Royce Vavrek

It was during the 1997 Golden Globe Awards telecast that I first caught a glimpse of the film that would change my life completely. Midway through the ceremony was featured a short clip of a paralysed man telling a young woman, his wife, to go and find another man to make love to.

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theartsdesk in Dalarna: Rhinegold in a Swedish barn by a lake

David Nice

Anna Larsson's fellow Swedes can count themselves lucky that the worldwide first choice to sing Wagner's Erda and the midnight song in Mahler's Third Symphony has made so much of her Dalarna inheritance.

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'A product not only of his era but also of his travels': Ian Page on Mozart's cosmopolitan education

Ian Page

When Mozart was an established composer living in Vienna during the final years of his short life, a young student seemingly came to him to seek his advice. The would-be young composer said that he was planning to write a symphony, and asked Mozart what advice he could give to him. Mozart replied that a symphony was a complex undertaking, and suggested that the youngster should first write a few keyboard sonatas and string quartets before undertaking an orchestral work.

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Franco Zeffirelli: 'I had this feeling that I was special'

Jasper Rees

"I am amazed to be still alive. Two hours of medieval torment.” Franco Zeffirelli - who has died at the age of 96 - had spent the day having a lumbar injection to treat a sciatic nerve. You could hear the bafflement in his heavily accented English.

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First Person: Conductor Maxime Pascal on Stockhausen at the Southbank Centre

Maxime Pascal

Stockhausen stands alongside Monteverdi and Beethoven as a composer who exploded the understanding of his art. Stockhausen deeply changed the relationship between space, time and music; there’s a human, intimate dimension to his composition, and he predicted the future.

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