Otello, English National Opera, London Coliseum

It is 30 years ago – but feels like another life – that David Alden first exploded on to English National Opera’s Coliseum stage with his forever notorious cut-price staging of Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa. None of us there will ever forget the high-drama of that evening on stage and off. The booing began with the … [Read More]

SOPHIE-LOUISE DANN in Conversation and in Song

St James Studio

 

SOPHIE-LOUISE DANN
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 have marveled at how her uncannily sharp take-offs of Elaine Paige, Julie … [Read More]

Prom 64, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Rattle, Royal Albert Hall

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker at the BBC Proms 2014.They were, of course, applauded on to the platform – all of them – and when at the close Simon Rattle turned to us and said “I think you know this already but there is no audience in the world like this one” the tacet response was surely implicit that there is no orchestra in … [Read More]

Vasily Petrenko talks to Edward Seckerson about “Babi Yar”

Vasily Petrenko conducts Shostakovich's "Babi Yar"With the final release in Vasily Petrenko’s much-lauded Shostakovich cycle on Naxos the young maestro talks to Edward Seckerson about a masterpiece the Soviet authorities tried but failed to sabotage at its first performances. YevgenyYevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar” with its accusations of anti-Semitism was the flashpoint but social protest runs deep in the piece and … [Read More]

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

Christine Goerke and Gun-Brit Barkmin 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]

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]