tue 18/12/2018

tragedy

Gianni Schicchi/Suor Angelica, RNCM, Manchester review – music does the magic

The Royal Northern College of Music’s December opera production was the useful double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi from Puccini’s Trittico. I say useful, because the former employs a women’s chorus (and, briefly, a full one) plus 16...

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Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera review - a timely revival of Verdi's political music-drama

Political machinations and backroom power-brokering, leadership battles and unscrupulous rivals – if ever there was an opera for this week it’s Simon Boccanegra. Premiered in 1857 but only coming into its own after substantial revisions in 1881,...

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Romeo and Juliet, Barbican review - plenty of action but not enough words

It’s clear from the start – from a Prologue that quickly dissolves familiar rhythms and words into a Babel of clamour and sound. This RSC Romeo and Juliet, newly transferred to the Barbican, isn’t much interested in what is said. Actions not words...

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Antony and Cleopatra, National Theatre review - Ralph Fiennes in marvellous throttle

You always wonder about those final scenes of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Are they really needed dramatically; do they work? We understand, of course, that a closing exhalation may add impact to high passions just witnessed. But is it just a romantic...

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The Jungle, Playhouse Theatre review - new territory

"I am dead," declares Okot before recounting the horrors he survived to reach Calais. Each time, he says, "I died." How many times can you die before you are truly dead? What is it that finally kills you? These are the questions at the heart of...

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Translations, National Theatre review - an Irish classic returns with cascading force

What sort of physical upgrade can a play withstand? That question will have occurred to devotees of Brian Friel's Translations, a play that has thrived in smaller venues (London's Hampstead and Donmar, over time) and had trouble in larger spaces: a...

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King Lear, BBC Two review - modernised TV adaptation is a mixed blessing

Some have contended that King Lear is unstageable, and perhaps it’s unfilmable too. Richard Eyre‘s new version for the BBC sets Shakespeare’s most remorselessly bleak tragedy in a pseudo-modern Britain where historic stately homes co-exist with...

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Antony and Cleopatra, RSC, Barbican review - rising grandeur

Is there a key to “infinite variety”? The challenge of Cleopatra is to convey the sheer fullness of the role, the sense that it defines, and is defined by only itself: there’s no saying that the glorious tragedy of the closing plays itself out, of...

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Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci, Royal Opera review - one tenor, two samey brutes

Are "Cav and Pag" inseparable? Clearly not, to judge from Opera North's "Little Greats" and elsewhere, but it's still the pairing of choice. Tricky, because as music-theatre, Leoncavallo's drama of rough life entwined with rough art stands high...

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Prom 72 review: Vienna Philharmonic, Harding - uncertain Mahler Six partly redeemed by brass

Outlines of a real face had begun to emerge in Daniel Harding’s conducting personality. His youthful rise to the top initially yielded neutral concerts with the LSO and a glassy, overpraised recording of Mahler’s Tenth in the Deryck Cooke completion...

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King Lear, Shakespeare's Globe - Nancy Meckler's Globe debut is unusually subdued

Every play is a Brexit play. This much we have learnt in the year since the referendum. But in Nancy Meckler’s hands the Globe’s new King Lear becomes the Brexit play – an unpicking of intergenerational responsibility and difference, of philosophies...

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Hamlet, Harold Pinter Theatre review - dislocatingly fresh makeover

Midway through Hamlet a troupe of actors arrives at Elsinore. Coaching them for his own ends, the prince turns director, delivering an impassioned critique: “O! it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious, periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to...

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