tue 15/10/2019

19th century

Fry, AAM, Egarr, Barbican review – revival and revolution

Second performances are even more valuable than premieres, composers say, when it comes to launching a piece into the world. Spare a thought, then, for Jan Ladislav Dussek, who has had to wait over two centuries for this prize to be awarded to his...

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Beethoven Festival Weekend, Wigmore Hall review 2 - total mastery in tone and depth

Any festival would be proud and honoured to end with the great Elisabeth Leonskaja playing the last three Beethoven piano sonatas. Here the Everest was swiftly scaled as the tenth concert of a packed Wigmore Hall weekend. How I wish I could have...

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A Doll's House, Lyric Hammersmith review - Ibsen tellingly transposed to colonial India

Newly arrived from a much-lauded stint at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Rachel O'Riordan has undertaken to make "work of scale by women" during her time as artistic director of the Lyric. What better place to start than with Ibsen's once-shocking...

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A. N. Wilson: Prince Albert review - entertaining bio is a total treat

Albertopolis! The Royal Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial and countless Albert Squares, Roads and Streets all commemorate Britain’s uncrowned king. In this mesmerising biography, novelist and historian A. N. Wilson’s admiration and affection for...

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Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed, Channel 4 review - dramatic documentary filled with intelligent detail

It may sound perverse to say it, but Albert was the perfect twenty-first century prince. Thrust into the heart of the British monarchy he was simultaneously an oppressed outsider who – despite his reputation as the most handsome prince in Europe (...

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The Gondoliers, National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company review - charm where it matters

Once more, gondolieri! Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers leaps into life to the sound of a saltarello: a blaze of Mediterranean sunshine and good natured exuberance that sweeps you some 20 minutes into Act One on the same unbroken surge of...

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L'Arlesiana, Opera Holland Park review - at last, a rare Italian gem

So many second-rate Italian operas with good bits have been served up by Opera Holland Park and glitzier UK companies; despite best intentions and fine execution, none of the works by Mascagni, Zandonai, Alfano, Leoni, Ponchielli or Giordano has...

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Peter Gynt, National Theatre review - towering protagonist, middle-way production

Like Hamlet and both parts of Goethe's Faust, with which it shares the highest peak of poetic drama, Ibsen's Peer Gynt is very long, timeless enough to resonate in a contemporary setting and sufficiently ambiguous in its mythic treatment of the...

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Eugene Onegin/Georgiana, Buxton Festival review - poetry and pantomime

It’s the saddest music in the world: the quiet heartbeat and falling melody with which Tchaikovsky opens his opera Eugene Onegin. Imagine a whole society, a whole lifetime of solitude, longing and disillusion, evoked in a single bass note and a few...

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La Fille du Régiment, Royal Opera review - enjoyable but questionable revival

On paper, this might seem like a revival too far, a production clearly intended as a vehicle for world-class singers being tacked on the end of the Covent Garden season, and without any big names in sight. But it turns out that Laurent Pelly’s...

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Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet, Royal Academy review – strange and intriguing

Félix Vallotton is best known for his satirical woodcuts, printed in the radical newspapers and journals of turn-of-the-century Paris. He earned a steady income, for instance, as chief illustrator for La Revue blanche, which carried articles and...

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Anna Bolena, Longborough Festival Opera review - Henry VIII's court becomes a sexualised death cult

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. Anne Boleyn is number two on the list, so anyone who can remember even that much Tudor history can guess that Donizetti’s Anna Bolena is not going to end well. The overture has hardly ended...

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