fri 23/02/2024

18th century

Fung, BBC Philharmonic, Weilerstein, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - clever and comical

Placing the UK premiere of Katherine Balch’s whisper concerto (for cello and orchestra) after Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 was probably an inspired idea from the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Joshua Weilerstein.In its day, the so-called “Military”...

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Così fan tutte, Opera North review - a safe bet

Reviving Tim Albery’s production of Così fan tutte, now almost 20 years old, again at Leeds Grand Theatre, Opera North have a bet that’s as safe as Don Alfonso’s in the story – that “Women are all the same”. It’s a sure-fire winner, and the...

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Northanger Abbey, Orange Tree Theatre review - larky retelling of Austen’s satire with a poignant core

What Zoe Cooper has concocted in her loving rewiring of Jane Austen’s first completed novel looks at first sight like a knockabout satire of a satire. But her aim is more sober than that: a queer rereading of this text as she first experienced it as...

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Voces8 Foundation Choir and Orchestra, Smith, Voces8 Centre review - joyous Christmas music by Bach

There’s a game called Whamageddon, where people see how deep into December they can go without hearing “Last Christmas”. I’m like that, but with the Bach Christmas Oratorio, and this year I made it four days. And who would want to wait any longer?...

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Rodelinda, The English Concert, Bicket, Saffron Hall review - perfect team helps us stay the long Handel course

If ever a marriage was made in heaven, it would have to be the one between Lucy Crowe’s beleaguered Queen Rodelinda and Iestyn Davies’ King Bertarido, the husband she believes dead and almost loses a second time. The duet at the end of Handel’s gem-...

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Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, Royal College of Music review - a modest one-acter overloaded

Fascinating for the history of opera, less so for opera. The most interesting thing about Gazzaniga’s take on the libertine and the stone guest, apart from a couple of sprightly numbers, is the libretto by Bertati, repurposed with better dramatic...

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Napoleon review - Sir Ridley Scott's historical epic is wide but not deep

Sir Ridley Scott has taken umbrage at the French critics who weren’t too impressed with his new movie. Not only do they not like his film, but the French “don’t even like themselves”, according to the dyspeptic auteur.But I feel our French cousins...

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Jephtha, Royal Opera review - uncomfortable sacrifice oratorio not seismic enough

“Tell me,” The West Wing’s President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) asks of a right-wing TV host who uses the Bible to call homosexuality an abomination, “I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21.7… What would a...

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L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Monteverdi Choir, EBS, Sousa, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - Handel at his most magical

There was a good reason why Milton never added a Moderato, a “middle way”, to his masterly poems on mirth in bright day (L’Allegro) and more reflective pleasures by night (Il Penseroso), and a bad one why Handel allowed Charles Jennens to tack on...

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Lang Lang, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - playing with the music

The showman was back – and, bless him, he can still sell every seat in a big hall even if the programme offers close on an hour and a half of unalloyed Bach.Lang Lang’s gifts are phenomenal: he doesn’t just play music brilliantly, every now and then...

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Hewitt, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Bard, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - 22 extraordinary musicians

The Basel Chamber Orchestra’s 21 string players on tour are an extraordinary set of musicians. Not only did they begin their programme in Manchester with Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, requiring at times one-to-a-part...

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Infamous, Jermyn Street Theatre review - Lady Hamilton challenges the patriarchy and loses

Towards the end of the 18th century, Lady Emma Hamilton (like so much in this woman's life, hers was a title achieved as much as bestowed) was the “It Girl” of European society.They’ve always been around – women who have the combination of...

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