Prom 59, “Elektra”, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bychkov, Royal Albert Hall

Robert Künzli as Aegisthus in Elektra at the BBC Proms 2014.How much familial dysfunction and lust – whether for sexual gratification or revenge – can one take in a single weekend? Salome and Elektra back-to back may on paper seem like a feast of divine decadence but no sooner had one become accustomed to the sickly sweet air of the former when the putrefaction of … [Read More]

Prom 58, “Salome”, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Runnicles, Royal Albert Hall

It has been said many times (and by Strauss himself) that the title role of Strauss’ Salome requires at least two different voices. Nina Stemme has both of them. And so seamlessly, artfully, are they rolled into one that it is hard to think of any other singer at the present time who better encapsulates … [Read More]

Prom 50: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Weilerstein, Belohlavek, Royal Albert Hall

Alisa Weilerstein  BBC Proms 2014.Even as orchestras began to sound more and more alike, there was the Czech Philharmonic. And many of its notable characteristics remain to this day: a modest, homespun, quality, warm and engaging and full of bright-eyed distinction in the woodwinds. In the pithy but immensely passionate overture to Janacek’s last opera From the House of [Read More]

Prom 47, Britten War Requiem, CBSO, BBC Proms Youth Choir, Nelsons, Royal Albert Hall

Baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann BBC Proms 2014Nothing has resonated through the unfolding First World War commemorations than the poetry of Wilfred Owen; and in terms of its grim immediacy and enduring heartbreak nothing ever could. Benjamin Britten knew that when he set down his War Requiem for posterity, counterpointing religious posturing with Owen’s indisputable truths. One fought, the other chose not … [Read More]

A New Singular Sensation!

St James Studio



SOPHIE-LOUISE DANN in Conversation and in Song
St James Studio Sunday 9 November 3pm

Sophie-Louise Dann is quite simply one of the most engaging and versatile musical theatre performers that the UK has ever produced. Anyone catching her recently in Forbidden Broadway will … [Read More]

Prom 43: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Skride, Gardner, Royal Albert Hall

Prom 33_CR_BBC Chris Christodoulou_3The Russians were coming – and the prospect of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, even without the added attraction of hearing it in Igor Buketoff’s questionable choral arrangement where the Tsarist hymn is taken at its word and does a Boris Godunov on us, the promenade queues were fast stretching towards South Kensington. And if ever … [Read More]

Dogfight, Southwark Playhouse

Dogfight 3 Jamie Muscato (Eddie Birdlace) Cellen Chugg Jones (Boland) Photo Darren BellThe movie slipped through my net, the musical comes to Europe – more specifically the Southwark Playhouse – laden with Off-Broadway awards, including the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. You can see why. There is conspicuous talent at work in Dogfight none more so than its composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul whose work … [Read More]

Prom 31: Hallé, Coote, Elder, Royal Albert Hall

The levels of refinement now exhibited by the Hallé, the stylishness and elegance of the playing, is alone a measure of the special relationship that they and Mark Elder have cemented over the last decade and a half. The opening bars of Berlioz’ Le corsaire came off the page like a manifesto for French sensibilities … [Read More]

Prom 28: BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers (Men’s voices), BBC Symphony Chorus (Men’s voices), Oramo, Royal Albert Hall

All kinds of narratives at play in this Sakari Oramo/ BBC Symphony Orchestra Prom – and perhaps the truly adventurous programmer might have double-deployed Rory Kinnear – dispassionately chronicling Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex – and taken us beyond the Overture and into the melodramas of Beethoven’s Incidental Music to Egmont. Mind you, that overture will … [Read More]

A Streetcar Named Desire, Young Vic

Streetcar - Gillian Anderson The first thing one needs to grasp about A Streetcar Named Desire – and director Benedict Andrews has seized hungrily upon it in his unnerving staging at the Young Vic – is Tennessee Williams’ sense of the mythic over the mundane; the heightened reality – or transcendence – that makes poetry of street talk and … [Read More]