sat 01/04/2023

17th century

Blu-ray: Saraband for Dead Lovers

The 17th century romantic tragedy Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948), Ealing Studios' first Technicolor film, was conceived as a magnificent spectacle. The opulent costumes and Oscar-winning sets, shot in pleasingly muted tones and rendered almost 3D...

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An Anatomy of Melancholy, Barbican Pit review - stunning journey into an Elizabethan heart of darkness

We enter the Barbican Pit as if visiting an apothecary. On the walls of the passage approaching it there are scientific diagrams and documents, while the stage itself is set up with glass cases filled with different potions and experiments.A figure...

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Orpheus, Opera North review - cross-cultural opera in action

Within its own aspirations, Orpheus is a complete triumph. “Monteverdi reimagined”, as Opera North subtitled it from the start, is an attempt to unite (and contrast, and compare, and cross-fertilise) early baroque opera with South Asian classical...

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Purcell's Playhouse, Bevan, Barokksolistene, Eike, Purcell Room review - kaleidoscopic delights

“What about the communication with the audience?” asked violinist and impresario Bjarte Eike in his First Person piece for theartsdesk. “How can a 'normal' concert be turned into a special event?” Explaining how is one thing – but doing it to dazzle...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Abel Selaocoe

South-African cellist Abel Selaocoe is about to begin his third major concert in London in under a year. As the support artist for kora player Ballake Sissoko and cellist Vincent Segal at the Roundhouse in January, he received a lengthy ovation for...

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Treason The Musical In Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane review - plenty of musical gunpowder but not enough plot

A semi-staged concert performance of a musical is a little like a third trimester ultrasound scan. You should see the anatomy in development, the shape of what is to come and, most importantly, discern a heart beating at its centre. But you can’t...

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Spell Book/La liberazione di Ruggiero dell'isola di Alcina, Longborough Festival review - the pitfalls of diversity

Diversity is a great idea, but it can sometimes contain the seeds of its own downfall. Positive discrimination is an obvious, frequent example. But there are two different cases in Longborough’s double bill of Freya Waley-Cohen’s Spell Book and...

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - Purcell, Gabriel Jackson and Duruflé

King Arthur, as every schoolgirl knows, never actually existed, so it made perfect sense that the Gabrieli Consort’s Worcester Cathedral performance of Purcell’s semi-opera about the mythical British king and his battles with the Saxon incomers made...

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Hamlet, Windsor Theatre Royal review - the age is out of joint

So it wasn’t Cinderella but Hamlet who was first out of the post-lockdown starting blocks – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much trumpeted musical premiere being foiled by a ping at the weekend. Instead the historic first curtain-up was 20 miles up the River...

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Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Longborough Festival Opera review - gods and grunge on the long journey home

They showed Clash of the Titans the other night – not the wretched remake, but the original 1981 sword-and-sandals cheesefest, complete with Ray Harryhausen’s Kraken, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite and that rip-roaring Laurence Rosenthal score. And, of...

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Dido’s Ghost, Buxton International Festival review - the Queen of Carthage returns

“Remember me!”, sang Dido to a departed Aeneas in the heart-rending aria-chaconne announcing her demise that dominates the ending of Purcell’s baroque opera. But what if he did … if in fact he never could forget her? That’s the premise behind...

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1971, Apple TV+ review - rock'n'roll's golden year?

Back in the mid-Eighties, BBC television started broadcasting The Rock'n' Roll Years, one of the first rock music retrospectives. Each half-hour episode focused on a year, with news reports and music intermixed to give a revealing look at the...

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