tue 01/12/2020

18th century

Ariodante, Royal Opera online review – stylish, but confined

“After black and gloomy night, the sun shines all the brighter,” sings hero Ariodante after a life-threatening bout of jealousy nearly scuppers a royal wedding. There’s a snag in Handel’s dramaturgy: all that sunshine in preparation for the nuptials...

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City of London Sinfonia, Southwark Cathedral review – towards Haydn’s last symphony

Nearly two weeks into the latest lockdown, and already I feel nostalgic about the last day of freedom. You should too, just watching the film released last night of the CLS’s most recent happening in Southwark Cathedral. It’s of the evening...

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Mozart's Requiem, English National Opera, BBC Two review - strong and direct act of remembrance

It must have felt very strange to Mark Wigglesworth that he returned to the London Coliseum under such unanticipated circumstances. ENO’s shortest-lived but also (many of us think) best Music Director campaigned from the start for direct...

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Harlots, BBC Two review – sublime, ridiculous, and always entertaining

Back to Georgian brothels, now – at least, for those of us who don’t have a Hulu subscription. The BBC’s airing of the second series of Harlots over the summer felt strangely timely. Barely an episode in and an angry crowd was hammering at the local...

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The Magic Flute, Glyndebourne review - deeply moving light in darkness

How does Mozart do it? His music can provoke deep emotions even in the unlikeliest operatic situations, if well done, and present circumstances stirred them up all the more on Sunday afternoon. Those flirtatious ladies flouncing around the prone...

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Gigantic Cinema: A Weather Anthology review - wild writing to stimulate the senses

Among the French composer Claude Debussy’s greatest and characteristically subtle innovations was to put the titles at the end of his pieces. He did this in his piano collection Preludes: the titles, trailed by ellipses and clothed in brackets...

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The Old Guard review - serious silliness

It’s hard to take The Old Guard seriously — it’s an action film about thousand-year-old immortal warriors. Pulpy flashbacks and fake blood abounds. But The Old Guard doesn’t need to be serious or even memorable: it’s a fun, feel-good film, a rare...

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Hamilton, Disney+ review - puts us all in the room where it happened

The movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights was meant to hit cinemas this summer, but, in response to Covid-19, has been put back to 2021. Instead, we get the early release on Disney+ of Miranda’s Hamilton – filmed, NT Live style,...

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DVD/Blu-ray: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a story of impossible love between two young women, takes place in the 18th century, on a wind-swept, wave-battered island off the coast of Brittany. The writer and director Céline Sciamma, who established herself as a...

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Don Giovanni/Sibelius plus, Swedish RSO, Harding, livestream review - dark studio rituals

"Touch her and you die," sings Masetto in telling Don Giovanni to keep away from his Zerlina. There's certainly trouble, though not instant death, when fingers briefly meet. Mozart's dark comedy has much in Da Ponte's text about hands-on business...

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The music of isolation: conductor Ian Page on 18th century 'Sturm und Drang'

My latest recording with The Mozartists is the first in a seven-volume series [reviewed by Graham Rickson in his Classical CDs Weekly column] exploring the so-called “Sturm und Drang” (literally translated, “storm and stress”) movement that swept...

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Le nozze di Figaro, Garsington Opera, OperaVision review - natural comedy, musical sublimity

Only the birds will be singing at country opera houses around the UK this summer. Glyndebourne seems over-optimistic in declaring that it might be able to launch in July; other companies with shorter seasons have made the regretful but right...

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