Monthly Archives: August 2011

Don Giovanni, Soho Theatre, August/ September 2011

After the presence has left, Johnny sees his life flash past him, and rushes out through the door. At the end we see an image of a man hanging by a rope — Johnny’s final experience, his own death.

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Three Days in May, Richmond Theatre, August/September 2011

On 26 May, Paul Reynard the new French Prime Minister flew to London with proposals for negotiations, leading to three days that formed a turning point in the Second World War. The war cabinet had to decide whether to play for more time and try further peace deals, or tell Mussolini and Hitler to take a running jump.

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Bayreuth Festival Retrospective, 2011

This year the Bayreuth Festival produced five different operas, opening with a new production of Tannhäuser, followed by four revivals: Meistersinger, Lohengrin, Parsifal, and Tristan, in that order.  I went to the first four, which included Katarina Wagner’s grotesque Meistersinger for which spare tickets were selling at half price, and no wonder. With a weak …

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Swan Lake, in concert, Prom 42, Royal Albert Hall, August 2011

With Valery Gergiev conducting, this was a sell-out. I remember his magnificent Sleeping Beauty at the Proms three years ago, and was looking forward immensely to Swan Lake, but in the end I was disappointed. It was a promising idea. The orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre have been in London to play for the Mariinsky Ballet at the Royal Opera House, so …

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The Turn of the Screw, Glyndebourne, August 2011

The clarity of this production, and this performance, was exceptional. From the first words of the Prologue to the last words of the drama when the Governess asks the limp body of Miles, “What have we done between us?”, the whole story was laid bare. The scene with the governess travelling by train to the big …

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La Wally, Opera Holland Park, OHP, August 2011

Act I of this opera is super, ending with Wally’s famous aria Ebben! Ne andrò lontana (Well then! I shall go far away) sung with great dramatic purpose by Gweneth-Ann Jeffers. Rather than sing this as a set piece aria, she alternated beautifully between pensive moments and real power. Her stubbornly narcissistic father Stromminger, well-portrayed by Stephen Richardson, …

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The Deep Blue Sea, Chichester Festival Theatre, August 2011

A shilling in the meter, for those of us who remember, was essential to keep the gas and electricity going. Awfully annoying when the money runs out unexpectedly, but in this case it saves Hester’s life. She took sleeping pills and put on the gas deliberately. As Mrs. Page she complains about being a ‘golf …

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Rattigan’s Nijinsky, Chichester Festival Theatre, August 2011

This is not just a play for ballet fans or anyone who has heard of Diaghilev or Nijinsky, it’s also for Rattigan fans, as Terence Rattigan himself appears on stage, brilliantly played by Malcolm Sinclair. He interacts with the characters in his own drama, particularly Diaghilev, and at the end of Part I we hear the …

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The Syndicate, Chichester, Minerva Theatre, August 2011

A stylish 1960s Neapolitan Godfather who only bribes or uses force when “it’s in a good cause”, Don Antonio is still forceful at age 75, compelling immense obedience and respect. When asked to adjudicate things, he listens but he’s the one who poses the questions and persuades the two parties to a just solution. The …

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Rigoletto, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2011

Rigoletto himself was brilliantly sung and performed by Robert Poulton. He didn’t overdo the nastiness of this character, as sometimes happens, yet his determination to take revenge came over very well when he makes the fatal mistake of telling his daughter to go home alone, after showing her the Duke’s real character.

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