wed 12/08/2020

medieval

Saints and Sinners: Britain's Millennium of Monasteries, BBC Four

When in Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies Thomas Cromwell exclaims in exasperation,  “to each monk, one bed; to each bed, one monk. Is that so hard for them?” he sums up the state of moral decay into which the monasteries had apparently...

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Canterbury Cathedral, BBC Two

Attracting over one million visitors each year, Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. With its picturesque location and very nice, very white staff, the cathedral offers an easy metaphor for the version...

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Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty, Channel 5

Dan Jones has turned up to narrate the dramatised story of the Plantagenets in history lite mode, perhaps aimed at capturing a young audience. In Plantagenet country, as shown on TV, we witness a medieval version of soap opera family sagas where all...

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theartsdesk in Bamberg: Top Town, Top Orchestra

As a town of 70,000 or so people, Bamberg boxes dazzlingly above its weight in at least two spheres. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, risen to giddy heights under its chief conductor of the last 14 years Jonathan Nott, is decisively among Germany’s...

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Lohengrin, Welsh National Opera

What is one to make of Lohengrin, Wagner’s last “opera” (as opposed to music drama), in this day and age? Is it a medieval romance, like Weber’s Freischütz but with a deus ex machina at the beginning rather than the end; or is it a nineteenth-...

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The York Mystery Plays, Museum Gardens, York

Is it the greatest story ever told, or the most indulgent nativity ever staged? The return of the York Mystery Plays – this summer’s blue-ribbon theatrical spectacular in the North – begins by beguiling, ends up bemusing, while in between is a...

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Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination, British Library

In 1757, what had previously been the royal collection of manuscripts was handed over to the nascent British Museum. Edward IV, who started the collection in the 15th century, had created a collection of books designed to display the greater glory...

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Too Much, Too Young: Children of the Middle Ages, BBC Four

'Too Much, Too Young''s Dr Stephen Baxter. A rare moment at rest

Although billed as “a fresh look at the Middle Ages through the eyes of children”, presenter Dr Stephen Baxter had to admit the bulk of historic evidence for how medieval children lived their lives was written by adults. Unfiltered accounts from a...

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The Globe Mysteries, Shakespeare's Globe

From 69 hours of King James Bible reading over Easter Week to this racy evening of adapted medieval pith as we head towards Assumption Day, the word they tell us is God moves in fluid if not necessarily mysterious ways around the Globe. “Mysteries”...

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Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces Before 1500, National Gallery

Andrea Mantegna’s 'Virgin and Child with the Magdalen and Saint John the Baptist'

Down the stairs the visitor enters a sequence of galleries gleaming with gold, seemingly illuminated by softly filtered evening light and flickering candles: here be a treasure house of stories in paint: saints, sinners and the narrative of the...

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Your Highness

In the end, the media-industrial complex which takes responsibility for entertaining the planet doesn’t put your needs and mine near the top of the pile. But I think we know this already. Why am I even saying it? Saying it again. Bears make their...

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CD: Tansy Davies - Troubairitz

'Troubairitz': There’s a satisfying darkness to Tansy Davies’s imagination

Tansy Davies’s neon and inside out 2 can’t help but recall Stravinsky’s 1940s commission for Woody Herrmann’s orchestra, the Ebony Concerto. There’s an idiomatic use of rich, low-pitched sounds (plenty of bassoon and bass clarinet), and insidious...

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