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.
The new-music community turned out in force to watch the sixty-eighth Aldeburgh Festival kick off with the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s scena for soprano, tenor and six instruments The Cure, in a double-bill under Martin Duncan’s direction with his earlier scena, The Corridor.
Another hit from ENO: David Alden’s production of Tchaikovsky’s enigmatic masterpiece has a sure touch and extreme boldness of conception.
Richard Strauss’s Intermezzo may be at one level about a marital tiff, while at another – with words and music written by one of the partners – being a queasy exercise in narcissism. But it’s also a probingly intimate portrait of a marriage, and this is the spirit in which director Bruno Ravella and his cast have approached it.
An uneasy seven-year peace at Germany’s famously unruly Bayreuth Music Festival has come to a dramatic end worthy of a Wagner opera amid revelations that one of the composer’s great granddaughters had been secretly forbidden to direct the event, and banned forthwith from its premises.
If you want to relax and feel calm then the scientific tip is to listen to the music of the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, which is more likely to lower blood pressure than pop, rock or jazz.
When Daniel Barenboim gives a piano recital, the hall – no matter how big – is always sold out months in advance. This is because people flock to hear him not just for his artistry, but for the history he embodies, as a fearless preacher of tolerance in one of the most intolerant regions of the world. But the devotees cramming even the stage of the Royal Festival Hall were there for an additional reason: he was going to deliver his Schubert sonata cycle on a piano no-one in London had heard before, the so-called Barenboim Steinway.
The appointment of Glyndebourne general director David Pickard as the new head of the Proms has surprised many. Widely expected to be a BBC insider – possibly one ready to wield an axe – instead, Pickard’s appointment appears to signal a willingness to be open to the new, the forward-looking, and the creative.
When paedophiles say to their victims, as they all do in one form or another, “If you ever speak about this, unimaginably bad things will happen to you”, what they are doing is perhaps on one level even worse than the physical act of abuse itself. They are manipulating their victims into being complicit in the abuse. Forcing the victim to take responsibility for protecting the abuser means that every time you smile, shake hands, speak with and act normally in front of the abuser – as you must, because he is your teacher, father, uncle or priest – you become a little bit more complicit. It is the most toxic form of manipulation possible. And in addition to making it pretty much impossible to trust in any kind of safe reality forevermore, that ingrained and very real fear – that if you speak out, then the world will end – takes hold at a cellular level and rarely, if ever, leaves.
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