sat 20/04/2019

Opera Features

theartsdesk in Bayreuth: Wagner in the Laboratory

stephen Walsh

Richard Wagner has probably only himself to blame if his operas have become a laboratory for the testing-to-destruction of the intellectual preoccupations of that Opera Führer of our time, the stage director. Wagner it was, after all, who transferred the mythic concept of concealed meaning to the opera house: Wagner who recreated legend as psycho-social allegory, and made musical narrative the handmaiden of philosophy and political ideology.

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theartsdesk at the Buxton Festival: An Opera a Day

philip Radcliffe

An opera a day keeps boredom at bay. There’s no danger of boredom in Buxton in mid-July. Set 1,000ft up in the Derbyshire hills, on the edge of the Peak District, and blessed with an Edwardian gem of an opera house, the old spa town is now well established with its own place on the festival map. And when the sun shines on it, as it did for most of the first day, it’s a picture.

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theartsdesk in Göttingen: Handel With an Umlaut

David Nice

Georg Friedrich Händel of Halle probably never came here. Other great men certainly did: long after the official foundation of Göttingen's Georg August University in 1734 - the year in which the composer wrote a masterpiece, Ariodante, in another spa town, Tunbridge Wells - would-be or successful students included Goethe, Heine, the Brothers Grimm, Schopenhauer and Bismarck. It's hardly a Baroque town, either, though its beauties are manifold.

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theartsdesk in Clonter: The Opera Farm

philip Radcliffe

Deep in rural Cheshire farmland, music is in the air. It’s not the music of the spheres from the Jodrell Bank radio telescope nearby, nor even the sound of the birds and the bleating of the lambs nearby. It is the music of human voices at work on scales and operatic arias. The 250-acre farm is Clonter, where for years people used to come to be entertained in the barn while picnicking amid bales of straw. Now the barn’s converted into an opera theatre - "the Glyndebourne of the North".

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Year Out/Year In: Classical Music and Opera

theartsdesk

Earlier this month, George Osborne, Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt were spotted in a Royal Opera House box surveying the country's most expensive artistic patrimony. What they thought - and how they and the Arts Council might wield their axe - will change the musical landscape of Britain forever.

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Bah Humbug: Richard Wagner - banish him from the stage

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Now that The X Factor's finally over, can we please get back to heaping opprobrium on the only Wagner that really deserves it? In the coming year opera houses around the world will be deciding whether to temporarily bankrupt themselves in 2013 to celebrate the composer's centenary. Opera Australia have announced a £10 million Ring Cycle.

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Simon McBurney On Creating A Dog's Heart

Simon McBurney

For anyone who grew up in the former Soviet Union, Heart of a Dog is a seminal text. But it’s also in the great tradition of Gogol and all the Russian satirists. It springs out into absolutely delicious flights of fantasy, but really sharp-edged. The mixture is there in Ostrovsky too: both very dark and very funny and also suddenly beautifully poetic.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Philanthropist Ian Rosenblatt

Edward Seckerson

It has been said that making money is music to the ears of any entrepreneur. In the case of Ian Rosenblatt you might need to turn that concept on its head. The music itself is his passion and the financial losses he routinely absorbs in pursuit of musical excellence is for him a small price worth paying. Well, not so small actually: through Rosenblatt Solicitors - his prestigious City law firm - he spends around £400,000 a year financing the Rosenblatt Recital Series, a now internationally...

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The Seckerson Tapes: Director Rufus Norris

Edward Seckerson

In 2001 Rufus Norris cleaned up on the awards front with his stunning production of Festen, the David Eldridge adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg's disturbing film which started life at the Almeida Theatre. But it was his grimly ironic staging of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret that I would put among the half-dozen or so best productions of a musical that I have ever seen.

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Remembering Joan Sutherland, 1926-2010

ismene Brown

Joan Sutherland’s was the voice of my childhood, the voice on the record-player when my mother, a coloratura soprano, practised her Lucia and Traviata. It was a clear and ravishingly carefree sound, as fluid as a stream bubbling in sunlight, effortlessly scintillating in the highest registers, a voice that almost sounded regretful as it descended to earth.

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