thu 17/08/2017

19th century

La Bayadère, Mariinsky Ballet review - a parade of delights

There are half as many performances of La Bayadère in this Mariinsky tour as performances of Swan Lake (four vs eight). The preponderance of Swan Lake is driven by audience demand, but if audiences knew what was good for them, they'd demand more...

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Prom 31 review: La Damnation de Faust, Gardiner - Berlioz tumbles out in rainbow colours

The road to hell is paved with brilliant ideas in Berlioz's idiosyncratic take on the Faust legend. John Eliot Gardiner proved better than anyone in last night's Prom that this splendidly lopsided "dramatic legend" can only be weakened by its many...

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DVD/Blu-ray: The Tree of Wooden Clogs

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of Wooden Clogs (L’albero deli zoccoli) is a glorious fresco that reveals, over the course of an unhurried three hours and with a pronounced documentary element that virtually...

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Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet review - Xander Parish lacks the spark of wildfire

It's a Cinderella story: Xander Parish was plucked from obscurity in the Royal Ballet corps and trained by the Mariinsky to dance the greatest roles in the repertoire. Now, not only is he the first Briton to join the historic Russian company, he has...

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Don Quixote, Mariinsky Ballet review - gentle charm, impressive principals

One of the most Russian things you can do in ballet is dance Don Quixote, which is 100 percent set in Spain. Don't think too hard about it, and definitely don't think too hard about the plot (which is barely there). The point is, the Mariinsky -...

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Prom 10 review: Aurora Orchestra, Collon – a revolution taken to heart

When a trail-blazing orchestra takes on a world-transforming work, it would be pointless to leave the staid old rules of concert etiquette intact. Not only did the Aurora Orchestra under Nicholas Collon stretch their repertoire of symphonies...

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Prom 9 review: Fidelio, BBCPO, Mena - classy prison drama rarely blazes

What a pity Beethoven never composed an appendage to Fidelio called The Sorrows of Young Marzelline. One crucial moment apart, the music he gives to his second soprano in his only opera isn't his best, but Louise Alder so lived the role of the...

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El-Khoury, Spyres, Hallé, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - bel canto lives again

Unless you're an undiscriminating fan of bel canto, the lesser Italian and French operas of the 1830s and '40s - that's to say, not Verdi's Nabucco and Macbeth or Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini - need to be approached with caution. Once you've lowered...

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The Beguiled review - silly but seriously well-made

An isolated girls' school finds its hermetic routine shattered by the arrival of Colin Farrell, who wreaks sexual and emotional havoc as only this actor can. Playing a Civil War deserter with a gammy leg, Farrell's Corporal McBurney is at first...

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DVD: Cézanne et moi

For viewers not familiar with the background story of Cézanne et moi – which surely includes most of us without specialist knowledge of late 19th century French artistic and literary culture – the moi of this lavish yet curiously uninvolving double...

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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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The Exhibition Road Quarter review, V&A - an intelligent and much needed expansion

Oh those Victorians!  Hail Prince Albert whose far-sighted ambition led to Albertopolis, embracing museums, galleries, universities and the Royal Albert Hall. And what in the early 21st century do you do with the Victoria & Albert Museum...

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