Peter Konwitschny’s ‘Traviata’ travesty doesn’t get any better on a second viewing. His view is that this is a social drama in which Violetta is the only real person, with the chorus like a hyperactive crowd of George Grosz caricatures given to quasi-sexual cavortings.
Before the opening night of Der fliegende Holländer some of the Royal Opera House Orchestra had already taken a soaking; apparently the patch of on-stage sea for act III found its way into the pit at the dress rehearsal. But Tim Albery’s Olivier Award-nominated staging, first seen in 2009, is an immersive and immersing experience, pulling you into its depths even if you don’t get splashed en route.
Wooden crosses rush by, gravestones swirl, an outlaw’s eyes widen, grass blurs, dirt flies - that breathless final scene of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly as Tuco runs around a cemetery in search of buried treasure may not be playing on the screens beside the stage at the O2, but those images from Sergio Leone’s masterpiece are surely in the minds of everyone in the audience, as the arms of Ennio Morricone beseech the full orchestra before him to yield every last drop of spaghetti western magic from his tour de force, The Ecstasy of Gold.
Making music in response to external stimuli is as old as the hills. It has always underpinned cinema – think of the pianists accompanying silent movies, or the celebrated soundtrack which Miles Davis created for Lift to the Scaffold by playing along with the images he saw as the film was silently projected.
Gods. Murderers. Dictators. Ghosts. Bryn Terfel is used to playing them all, and more. The towering bass-baritone from north Wales, who turns 50 this year, is probably the best-loved figure in British opera today: gigantic in stature and personality, with a booming voice that is effortlessly flexible and expressive even when speaking, never mind singing. So huge a presence is he that it is almost startling to find him arriving for a rehearsal of Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) at the Royal Opera House on as modest a contraption as a bicycle.
Robin Tritschler is making a name for himself not only as a tenor with an unusually pure sound, but also as an adventurous programmer: his new CD No Exceptions No Exemptions is a fascinating collection of songs by poets and composers who fought for their country – France, Russia, and Germany as well as Britain – in the First World War.
Celebrated conductor Israel Yinon collapsed during a performance at a Swiss music festival and died despite attempts to revive him by an audience-member.
You don’t arm yourself with pompous critical criteria when you go to a show advertising itself as a cabaret opera in the vaults underneath Waterloo station. You take your pleasure as it comes, and here it starts with the graffiti artists busy with their spray cans in the street outside.
The new Controller of BBC Radio 3 has promised to give more airtime to female composers and vowed that the station will not “dumb down” in an attempt to copy commercial rival Classic FM.
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