Elgar The Apostles, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus, Davis, Barbican Hall

Sir Colin Davis photo Chris ChristodoulouSir Adrian Boult laid the foundations for its revival, more recently Sir Mark Elder found astonishing illumination within it, and now a third knight of the realm – Sir Andrew Davis (the latest recipient of the Elgar Medal) – chivalrously stamps his authority on it and brings it in from the cold. Elgar’s The Apostles[Read More]

Elgar “The Dream of Gerontius”, Davis, Barbican

Some performances evolve so naturally, so inevitably, that they feel – bespoke. Andrew Davis has a long history with both the BBC Symphony Orchestra (who gave him his first big break) and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and from that moment in the Prelude where the cellos intimate some eternal lullaby to the ebbing arpeggios … [Read More]

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Savoy Theatre

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELSThe “fantasy” Riviera conjured by designer Peter McKintosh for the West End premiere of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - the Musical is pretty much an extension of the Savoy Theatre’s shining Art Deco auditorium, its sleek angular segments gliding into position like they too have been choreographed by director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell. So it looks devilishly good … [Read More]

I Can’t Sing! London Palladium

I cant singThe names have been changed to protect the guilty but half the fun of I Can’t Sing! – the so-called X-Factor musical – lies in the relentless spoofing of a show we love to hate and a format so unremittingly predictable that its contestants, judges, and host now read like characters from, well, a musical. … [Read More]

Die Frau ohne Schatten, Royal Opera House

Emily Magee in Die Frau ohne Schatten - ROH - Clive Barda 2014Die Frau ohne Schatten is an opera awash with high-flown symbolism and dubious, if not downright dodgy, sub-Freudian psychology. It peddles ludicrous notions about the inherent conflict between spiritual and physical love, frowning at the sex that does not lead to results – i.e. procreation – and worst of all daring to suggest that a … [Read More]

The A-Z of Mrs P, Southwark Playhouse

A-to-ZThe most ambitious musicals spring from the most unlikely sources – you need go no further than Stephen Sondheim to establish that – but turning those musicals from novelty into living, breathing, involving experiences requires very special talent. Back to Mr. Sondheim. Everyone who writes in this medium owes him a huge debt of gratitude … [Read More]

London Philharmonic, Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall (Review)

Vasily PetrenkoVasily Petrenko used his baton like a piratical rapier to galvanise the London Philharmonic violins in their flourishes of derring-do at the start of Berlioz’ Overture Le Corsaire. And the brilliance was in the quicksilver contrasts, the lightness and wit of inflection which lent a piquancy to the panache of this great concert opener. … [Read More]

Rigoletto, English National Opera, London Coliseum (Review)

Rigoletto Eno 2024 (c) MuirThe hunchback slumps in his chair like some malevolent watchkeeper – master of all he surveys. But as the black front curtain is drawn back like a shroud or veil of deceit, the world according to Rigoletto is revealed like a mirror image of his dark heart, a place of dastardly deeds and abject humiliation. … [Read More]

London Symphony Orchestra, Jansen, Pappano, Barbican Hall

There were, it seemed, enough trumpets to serve Gabriel throughout eternity – and, as fanfares go, this one was stretching a point and then some. LSO On Track had commissioned it from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and true to the spirit of this enterprise seeking to field young musicians of mixed abilities alongside players from … [Read More]

Peter Grimes, English National Opera, London Coliseum (Review)

English National Opera’s “ownership” of Britten’s Peter Grimes was more than a little advanced by the arrival of David Alden’s thrilling staging in 2009 – and seeing it again now only confirms what I thought and felt then, that this is physically and emotionally the theatrical embodiment of the piece: a bold expressionistic reimagining of … [Read More]