tue 14/07/2020

Bible

Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera

Schoenberg’s last, unfinished, opera, seldom staged, might almost have been written for the Welsh. At its heart is some of the most refined and intricate choral writing since Bach, but linked to stage directions so complicated that one wonders...

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The Testament of Mary, Barbican

If you’re tempted to see Fiona Shaw’s impressive solo performance as Mary the mother of a son she can’t bring herself to name – and see it you probably should – then bear two things in mind.First, anything you may have heard or read about this being...

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Noah

Darren Aronofsky has made some of the most innovative and daring films that have ever been misunderstood. From Pi to Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler and Black Swan, his films have something to delight and upset everyone. That is as...

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Nabucco, Royal Opera

"Oh, wretched old man! You are but the shadow of the king”, sings Plácido Domingo’s Nebuchadnezzar about himself in Lear-like abjection before his Goneril-Reganish daughter (the flame-throwing Liudmyla Monastyrska). It’s only true of this brief...

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Bach St John Passion, Academy of Ancient Music, Egarr, Barbican Hall

A Leipzig church is surely the place we’d most like to be for Bach on Good Friday. Never mind: the Barbican Hall is kinder to the best period instrument ensembles than it is to big symphony orchestras. Better still, having sat stunned and weepy for...

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Are You Having a Laugh?, BBC One

How do we know Jesus Christ was a Jew? He was still living with his mum at 33 and she thought he was God Almighty. Are you offended? I sincerely hope not and profuse apologies if you are, but that was the first religious joke I remember from my...

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The Gospel According to the Other Mary, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dudamel, Barbican Hall

“I do not believe in miracles,” scoffs Herodias in Oscar Wilde’s -  and Richard Strauss’s - Salome. “I have seen too many.” I know how she feels. So it was a bit of a shock to find the highest-kicking of today’s composers, John Adams, and his...

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Mattila, Hampson, LPO, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall

This may have been the official, lavish fanfare for the Southbank’s The Rest is Noise Festival, which if the hard sell hasn’t hit you yet is a year-long celebration of 20th Century music in its cultural context and based around Alex Ross's...

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Lot and His God, The Print Room

Howard Barker is hardly known for light entertainment. In The Europeans, a raped woman gives birth on stage. In Scenes from an Execution, currently at the National, a Renaissance artist is at war with her patrons. In Lot and...

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The York Mystery Plays, Museum Gardens, York

Is it the greatest story ever told, or the most indulgent nativity ever staged? The return of the York Mystery Plays – this summer’s blue-ribbon theatrical spectacular in the North – begins by beguiling, ends up bemusing, while in between is a...

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Salome, Royal Opera House

 According to Oscar Wilde’s Salome (and faithfully preserved in Hedwig Lachmann’s libretto), the mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death. That may be so, but neither comes close to equalling the baffling mystery that is still David...

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How God Made the English, BBC Two

This programme wants to challenge certain stereotypes around English identity. It wants to challenge the notion that to be English is to be “tolerant, white and Anglo-Saxon”. But before it does any of that, it wants to address just one question, and...

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