thu 27/02/2020

Italy

Blu-ray: 8 ½

8 ½ is one of the classic films about the art of cinema. There is something about the make-believe of movies, and our buying into the dreams they foster, which suggests reflection and self-referencing, as if films offered a mirror to our inner lives...

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Les vêpres siciliennes, Welsh National Opera review - spectacular, silly, but some great music

It’s not hard to see why The Sicilian Vespers has struggled since its surprisingly successful opening run at the Paris Opéra in 1855. Verdi had composed it reluctantly, despised the librettist, Eugène Scribe, who he regarded as a well-named cynical...

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Beatrice Rana, Wigmore Hall review - fantasy and sonority writ large

Not even the unengaged or terminally weary could have dozed through this. Pianists have often commented how the Wigmore Steinway is too big for the hall, and most adjust accordingly. Not 27-year-old Italian Beatrice Rana, but not in the bad way of...

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Shock of the Nude with Mary Beard, BBC Two review - when does art become erotica?

Are you a fan of oysters or Marmite? Mary Beard is not to everybody’s taste, but love her or loathe her she is not only a distinguished academic but a ubiquitous writer and presenter of classical histories, connected travels, and ruminations on...

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Blu-ray: A Fistful of Dynamite

A Fistful of Dynamite and Once Upon a Time in America are Sergio Leone’s films with the most explicit political underpinning. Indeed, given recent events, A Fistful of Dynamite is a thoroughly pertinent film, asking how we might achieve social...

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Caroline Moorehead: A House in the Mountains review – the women's war against Fascism

In September 1944, a heavily pregnant Resistance activist in the north of German-occupied Italy was arrested on a visit to Milan. Lisetta Giua, a law student and fiancée of the Jewish anti-Fascist chief Vittorio Foa, worked as one of hundreds of...

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Botticelli in the Fire, Hampstead Theatre review - history mash-up burns bright

Botticelli is a household name, but who knows the true story behind his most famous painting? The painter's 1480s masterpiece, The Birth of Venus, is one of the most striking images of Renaissance Florence – and has achieved iconic status. Because...

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Hisham Matar: A Month in Siena review – memories, framed

A Month in Siena is a sweet, short mediation on art, grief, and life. Ostensibly describing the time and space of its title, Matar touches on vanishings and lacunae in his past. Early on, he links the disappearance of his father in Cairo in 1990 to...

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Verdi Requiem, LPO, Gardner, RFH review – beyond the big noise

You seldom expect to feel the breath of apocalypse and the terror of the grave amid the modestly rationalist architecture and passion-killer acoustics of the Royal Festival Hall. In fact, before Edward Gardner and the London Philharmonic Orchestra...

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theartsdesk at Incontri in Terra di Siena: galloping concertos and Stravinsky by starlight

July in Tuscany and the heat is intense. Oak-forested hills offer tempting shade; pale dust flies from the roads; in the houses curtains are drawn against the ferocious sun and around irrigated gardens the mosquitos are growing plump. If you love...

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Ludovico Einaudi, Barbican review - a long road to nowhere

There is a video, part of Greenpeace’s laudable Save The Arctic Campaign, in which Ludovico Einaudi sits at a Steinway atop a small ice flow performing his Elegy for the Arctic. As he plays a descending scale, the camera pans slightly to the right...

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The Chef's Brigade, BBC Two review - you're in the army now

While a spot of home cooking can be a relaxing experience with a nice meal at the end of it, signing up to this culinary campaign with Michelin-starred mega-chef Jason Atherton is like being sent off to join the Foreign Legion. The plan is that...

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