The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden is used to passionate responses from its audiences at curtain calls.
Some directors love to shock, but Damiano Michieletto got more than he bargained for when he staged the slaveringly-protracted stripping-naked of a female actor in a gang-rape chez the evil Gesler in Guillaume Tell.
For many music lovers, André Rieu, the Dutch violinist and so-called modern Waltz King, is an irresistible attraction. He and his orchestra, performing light, tuneful classics and crossover – are not only about music, but also showbiz. They often top the classical recording charts. And they’re loved, loved, loved.
The story of La traviata could hardly be simpler, yet, as evidenced by the false trails in Peter Konwitschny’s wayward production for ENO, it’s still possible to get things profoundly wrong.
Gabriel Prokofiev is pondering, over a Turkish lunch near his Bethnal Green studio in London, an unexpected development in his career as composer: the BBC has just picked a movement from his Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra for its new Ten Pieces list for schoolchildren aged 11 to 14. This concerto's mingling of classical format and very contemporary idiom – the scratching and sampling of a DJ on turntables – should be an ideal way in to the sometimes mysterious spheres of contemporary classical music.
Based on Thomas Mann’s novella about the impossible love which springs in the breast of a blocked middle-aged writer as he watches a beautiful boy cavorting on the beach, Britten’s final opera is burdened with prissily over-literary monologues.
The film industry has lost one of its biggest talents with the passing of composer James Horner, who died in a plane crash in California aged 61.
For most of my adult life, virtually no one – not even my closest friends – knew that I played the piano. And that was how I wanted it. Playing the piano had once defined me, but so, too, had my stage fright. I was the kind of pianist who played well when there was nothing at stake: in my parents' house, at my lesson, behind closed doors. But put me in front of an audience and my hands would ice over while my palms and fingers would be soaked with sweat. When I quit at 19, my parents protested that I was giving up the best part of myself. You'll go back to it one day, they predicted. When I finally did, more than 30 years had passed.
Mozart’s Turkish opera filters an imagined East through Western sensibilities, and it presents tricky problems in how the Ottoman court and its ruler Pasha Selim and bloodthirsty gaoler Osmin should be portrayed; moreover, its violent references have now become chillingly topical.
It’s always a special occasion when Bernard Haitink picks up his baton with the London Symphony Orchestra, and this concert was doubly so because the soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 3 was Alina Ibragimova. This Russian-born, Gnessin-trained player has blossomed superbly over the last few years on both modern and period instruments, both as soloist and chamber player. She has Anne Sophie Mutter’s precision, but infinitely more warmth in her sound.
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