thu 27/06/2019

19th century

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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Boris Godunov, Royal Opera review - cool and surgical, with periodic chills

Suppose you're seeing Musorgsky's selective historical opera for the first time in Richard Jones's production, without any prior knowledge of the action. That child's spinning-top on the dropcloth: why? Then the curtain rises and we see Bryn Terfel'...

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Edouard Vuillard: The Poetry of the Everyday, Holburne Museum, Bath review - dizzying pattern and colour

A beguiling collection of small paintings by Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) forms an exhibition from his early career. It is a vanished world of domesticity in a Parisian flat, where Vuillard lived with his mother, a seamstress, for almost all his...

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CBSO, Gražinytė-Tyla, Symphony Hall Birmingham review - joy unbounded

You can tell a lot from the opening of Brahms’s Second Symphony. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra began it – and it’s not the first time they’ve done this in a big German symphony – as if in mid-...

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The Lehman Trilogy, Piccadilly Theatre review - stunning chronicle of determination and dollars

Mammon and Yahweh are the presiding deities over an epic enterprise that tells the story not just of three brothers who founded a bank but of modern America. Virgil asked his Muse to sing of ‘arms and the man’, yet here the theme becomes that of ‘...

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La Damnation de Faust, Glyndebourne review – bleak and compelling makeover

Mid-career, moving ever further away from composing for concert platform and church towards the stage, Berlioz found himself unsure where his take on Faust belonged. In the end he hedged his bets and titled it a "dramatic legend". Staging it as an...

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Gentleman Jack, BBC One review - the revolutionary life of Anne Lister

In 2010, Maxine Peake starred in The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, but this new dramatisation of Lister’s life has been gestating in Sally Wainwright’s brain for 20 years, and finally arrives under the auspices of the BBC and HBO. Hugely...

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Tolkien review - biopic charms but never wows

Finnish director Dome Karukoski’s Tolkien follows the same formula of many literary biopics, with a tick-box plot of loves, friendships and hardships that forged the writing career of one the 20th Century’s greatest fantasy writers.We open at the...

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Aida, Opera North review - militarism soundly subverted

Opera North created something approaching a new art form when they performed Wagner’s Ring in "concert stagings", putting their large orchestra in full view, with singers symbolically dressed and given limited front-of-stage space, and a continuous...

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Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, British Museum review - compassion in the age of anxiety

Munch’s The Scream is as piercing as it has ever been, and its silence does nothing to lessen its viscerally devastating effect. It was painted in 1893, but it was a lithograph produced two years later – now the star of the biggest UK exhibition of...

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Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain review - tenuous but still persuasive

Soon after his death, Van Gogh’s reputation as a tragic genius was secured. Little has changed in the meantime, and he has continued to be understood as fatally unbalanced, ruled by instinct not intellect. Van Gogh’s characterisation of himself as a...

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La forza del destino, Royal Opera review - generous voices, dramatic voids

When "Maestro" Riccardo Muti left the Royal Opera's previous production of Verdi's fate-laden epic, disgusted by minor changes to fit the scenery on the Covent Garden stage, no-one was sorry when Antonio Pappano, the true master of the house then...

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