sat 16/12/2017

1940s

The Rake's Progress, Wilton's Music Hall review - mercurial Stravinsky made cumbersome

If you're not going to mention the imaginative genius of Stravinsky, Auden and Kallman within the covers of your programme, and the only article, by the director, is titled "Acting Naturally", then the production had better deliver. That remarkable...

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Messiaen & Shostakovich, St John's Smith Square review - Osborne and Gerhardt anchor 1940s masterpieces

Only connect. As the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Series at St John's showcased supreme eloquence in two searing but perfectly-proportioned meditations from the Second World War, over the road at Smith Square Europe House was...

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Professor Marston and the Wonderwomen review - Rebecca Hall to the rescue

Wonder Woman was the film that defied all the predictions: a big-budget superhero movie directed by a woman which managed to please not only the feminists and their daughters but also the boys who love DC and Marvel. In its slipstream comes...

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Schubert Ensemble, Kings Place review - spot-on introductions, dazzling performances

To demonstrate what makes chamber masterpieces tick and then to play them, brilliantly, is a sequence which ought to happen more often. Perhaps too many musicians think their eloquence is confined to their instruments. Not violinist Simon Blendis...

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The Consul, Guildhall School review - blowsy melodrama rooted by committed students

Fancy that: the day after the last major Menotti staging I can remember in the UK, The Medium at the Edinburgh Festival, "splendid piece of post-Puccinian grand guignol" turned up in two different reviews (moral: don't discuss the performance with...

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Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Dulwich Picture Gallery review – more than Moominvalley

Born into an artistic Swedish-speaking household in Helsinki, Tove Jansson’s first, and most enduring, ambition was to be a painter. Although best known as the illustrator behind the creatures of Moominvalley, those plump white hippopotamus-like...

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Prom 61 review: Fleming, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Oramo - heliotropic ecstasies

No sunshine without shadows was one possible theme rippling through this diva sandwich of a Prom. Even Richard Strauss's chaste nymph Daphne, achieving longed-for metamorphosis as a tree, finds darkness among the roots; and though Renée "The...

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Proms 34 & 35 review: Oklahoma!, John Wilson Orchestra - music triumphs, words and drama suffer

Only one thing could equal the "wow!" factor of seeing and hearing a youngish Hugh Jackman launch into “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’“ at the start of the National Theatre’s 1998 staging of Oklahoma!: John Wilson and his orchestra trilling and...

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Man in an Orange Shirt, BBC Two review - soft-focus view of 1940s gay love affair

As chat-up lines go, “I can’t do my fly up single-handed” is pretty full on – even if it is true. Thomas March (James McArdle) is speaking to James Berryman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who not only went to the same public school but has also just saved...

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Buxton Festival review - early Verdi, earlier Mozart and refreshing Britten

“The subject is neither political nor religious; it is fantastical” wrote Verdi to the librettist Piave about his opera Macbeth. “The opera is not about the rise of a modern fascist: nor is it about political tyranny. It is a study in character”...

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Ariadne auf Naxos, Glyndebourne review – seriously compelling revival

It’s often said that Ariadne auf Naxos is all about The Composer – not only Richard Strauss but an affectionate parody of his younger self – and Katharina Thoma takes this idea seriously in her Glyndebourne production. In the role, Angela Brower...

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Albert Herring, The Grange Festival review - playing it straight yields classic comedy gold

Perfect comedies for the country-house opera scene? Mozart's Figaro and Così, Strauss's Ariadne - and Britten's Albert Herring, now 70 years and a few days old, but as ageless as the rest. With the passing of time it's ever more obvious that this...

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