Thursday, 31 December 2009

Giselle #2

First draft of rear cut cloths (obviously they will be further apart in real life!!)

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Little Night Music in Paris

Aaaargh! I can't believe that Kristin Scott Thomas has pulled out of the Paris ALNM.! She was the main reason I was going!

Giselle version #2

Have started doing the designs for extra cut cloths for Giselle. Going well so far. They should look nice.(Especially after our wonderful scenic painter has translated them to life size!!)

Sunday, 27 December 2009


I seem to be in the minority that enjoyed this film. Ah well, it's hardly the first time I swam against the tide!!

Post Christmas 2009

Well, that's Christmas over for another year. It kicked off, after two shows, with a quick drink at the pub before heading back to get ready for midnight mass. Singing went well although I was pissed off that time restraints meant that we cut the piece with the best tenor line! Another swift drink before heading home to bed.
An early-ish rise in order to get a good drive down to East Sussex was rewarded with an almost traffic free drive. Arrival at Mill House is followed immediately by engagement with the prep for lunch and working out the logistics of getting Dad from his recuperation home.
Collection of Dad and the meal all went off remarkably smoothly despite noisy nephews etc. Dad duly transported back again, presents and a quick tea and I am back on the road again returning to Bucks. Watch some mindless telly before the programme about the Royal Ballet in Cuba comes on. One of the highlights is Tamara Rojo's 32 fouettes in the rehearsal for "Corsaire". Unbleievably she not only incorporates triple fouettes but also in the second 16 incorporates quartered changing spots as well! This excellent programme was a good end to an emotionally rather draining day.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


I saw the movie version of NINE yesterday and, with a few reservations, enjoyed it very much. It is certainly much better than Rob Marshall's superficially glossy take on CHICAGO or Tim Burton's SWEENEY TODD.
The first thing to state is that it is very, very different from the stage musical although it retains some of the original numbers. However the storyline is re-aligned significantly, many details are changed and roles changed in either character or importance.
Having said that it is not the wholesale musical butchery that the movie version of SWEENEY TODD perpetrated. Nor is it a dreary re-telling which never escapes it's stage roots.
Visually it looks gorgeous with some fantastic set pieces and beautiful costuming. The much touted BE ITALIAN is a showstopper (or would be in the theatre) and is wonderfully vocalised by Fergie (of Black Eyed Peas fame). GUIDO'S SONG, FOLIES BERGERE and CINEMA ITALIANO are also at the same level.
But actually none of these are the central point of the film. That, far more than in the stage version, is the relationship between Guido and Luisa. And this is where Marshall's casting scores a bullseye. In Daniel Day Lewis he has a Guido who, even when behaving abominably, never loses the audience's sympathy. He perfectly charts the conflicted path of the director shoring up a non-existent movie and juggling relationships on a collision course. I do regret that Day-Lewis was not given THE BELLS OF SAINT SEBASTIAN which is the musical centrepoint of Guido's journey in the stage version. It is especially regrettable as Day-Lewis has a more than creditable singing voice.
He is perfectly complemented by Marion Cotillard who is nothing short of sensational as Luisa. In a role that often fades into the background in stage versions Cotillard grabs every opportunity with both hands. Both her numbers, superbly directed by Marshall, are object lessons in going for broke, painfully raw emotion. This is a performance to place along side her Piaf.
Judi Dench, in a radically realigned version of her role, is also excellent and sells FOLIES BERGERE for all that it is worth.
Nicole Kidman is subtle and gracious in her role as Guido's muse and sing's IN A VERY UNUSUAL WAY beautifully. Kidman does what she can with a role that, even in the stage version, arrives too late in the narrative.
The stage musical ends in a rather opaque and, ultimately, unsatisfactory manner but Marshall has grafted on an epilogue. At first I thought this might be disastrous but actually it brings the narrative to a satisfactory but still open-ended conclusion.
Even if you hate musicals you should see this film for Day-Lewis and Cotillard's performances

Thursday, 17 December 2009


Looking forward greatly to seeing NINE at the cinema tomorrow. It will be a welcome respite from the hell of Xmas shopping!!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Gott welch dunkel hier!

Only 1 more day of freedom before starting my sentence of five weeks of panto! Weh!!

Anna Caterina Antonacci

A very nice reply from Anna Caterina. Unfortunately she has no plans at present for further performances of Medea. WHY??!!
I shall have to content myself with the DVD and with looking forward to Les Troyens on 2012!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Eddie Izzard at the O2

Went to see the divine Mr Izzard last night in the cosy, intimate surroundings of the O2 last night. Excellent show especially the giraffe mime. Who would have thought 10 years ago that a comedian could sell out a massive venue like this? I was musing if there were any classical stars who could sell a venue this size. Liz thought Renee Fleming might but I was doubtful. I thought probably only the 3 tenors which is no longer an option, of course. As we left the area someone tried to hand us a flyer for Katherine "Welsh Banshee" Jenkins! Hmmm. Not the sort of "classical" star I was talking about!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Che gelida manina!

Back from a freezing and frustrating two and 1/2 days in Southport. Theatre has huge disadvantages for a production which requires in view flying but the crew are friendly and willing and work to make the best of it. Bloody cold both in and out of the venue. Useless hotel on second night. When I arrived the room was freezing so I asked them to get the heating working or put a heater in the room. Arrive back at hotel after placing call and curry to find the room is still freezing and no heater has been located. On ringing down to reception I am told there are no spare heaters (presumably because of other freezing guests!!) so I ask to be moved. After half an hour waiting for a call back I give up and go to bed. I am just drifting off (despite chattering teeth) when reception calls to tell me a room has been found. I rise, get dressed and pack my goods and chattels. The room is warm when I get to it and I go gratefully to bed. when I wake up, however, the radiator has not come on...
I check out and thank my lucky stars that I am not staying till the end of the run.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Mozart Requiem

Unexpectedly off to Mozart Requiem tonight at Barbican. Hurrah!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

New Moon

Just saw the new Twilight film. Some good moments (Michael Sheen) but terribly diffuse and a rather too long. There are only so many shots I want to see of Kristen Stewart mooning (pun intended) about wondering what went wrong with her life/ where her vampire is/ why she only falls in love with bloodsuckers or lycanthropes etc etc
Heigh ho.

On a more elevated level the booking form for FILLE DU REGIMENT is wending its way Gardenwards and my fingers are duly crossed.

Anna Caterina Antonacci at the Wigmore Hall

Anna Caterina's recital was superb. One of the best recitals I have been to in a long time. Not quite sure why she wasn't allotted a full evening rather than a lunchtime slot but one must grateful for anything we get from this unique artist! If there were any justice she would be a superstar in the operatic world. She certainly deserves it more than several singers I can think of. Even in recital she totally commands the stage and inhabits the world of each song.

I'm now licking my lips in anticipation of her Cassandra in Les Troyens with Kaufmann at the ROH (not till 2012, unfortunately!)

I'm also trying to ascertain if she is repeating her mesmerising Medea anywhere. Her performance on the DVD is stupendous and I would travel a long way to see her do it live. If anyone knows can they contact me?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Bayreuth versus Salzburg

Desperately want to see the ELEKTRA at Salzburg next year but dare not commit the funds till I have heard whether the ruinously expensive Bayreuth booking was successful or not!

Sweeney Todd - The Unkindest Cut

Listening to the original Broadway recording of Sweeney Todd on the way back from "Life is a Dream" at the Donmar I am struck by two thoughts. Firstly that this is Sondheim's greatest work by a considerable margin and secondly that Tim Burton is responsible for an act of artistic vandalism for presenting a film version which excises much of the best and most innovative music (the chorus parts). Sondheim must bear some of the blame for allowing him to do it but Burton is the principal villain.
A side thought is to ask the questions "When is someone going to mount a decent production of the show for Bryn Terfel and will they please record it at the same time?"

Monday, 23 November 2009

Classic novels to musical theatre

Interesting reflections on adapting classic novels into works of music theatre having read THE BRIDE OF THE LAMMERMOOR immediately followed by THE WOMAN IN WHITE. Leaving aside the obvious quality gap between Donizetti and Lloyd Webber music-wise it is instructive to note that Donizetti's version is an overall improvement on Scott's rambling novel while Lloyd Webber's, saddled with an absolute dog of a libretto, turns Collins' exciting but supremely subtle story into a flat and rather obvious melodrama.
Although one must regret the loss of Lord Ashton, one of Scott's most interesting characters and the turning of Lucy's callow teenage brother into a stock baritone villain one can only applaud the decision to excise entirely the exasperatingly tedious character of Ravenswood's family retainer who must qualify as one of the most annoying and dully repetitious characters in all literature.
The novel's Lucy is a pale creation compared to Donizetti's Lucia and even her attempted assassination of Arthur Bucklaw is unsuccessful. Scott's Ravenswood is admittedly a far more depthful character than Cammanaro's adaptation but at least Donizetti spares his hero the ignominious exit by quicksand (shades of Carver Doone!). Cammanaro also nicely fleshes out the conflicted clergyman, Bide-the-Bent and allots him the portentous lead-in to Lucia's Mad scene.
More thoughts on this and on Collins/Lloyd Webber later.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tomorrow creeps on this petty pace..

Heading for bed soon - A day of domesticity beckons tomorrow...

A Little Night Music a Paris

Looking forward to this so much. Just got to get through the Panto season first!!


Just been watching Matt Frei's Berlin series. Utterly fascinating, superb and encapsulating the most fascinating,troubled city in the world

Bryn's Bad Boys in Brum

My review of Bryn Terfel's Bad boys Concert at Symphony Hall (click on title)

Anna Caterina Antonacci

Going to see the divine Anna at the Wigmore on Monday at 13.00. Is anyone else going?

Don Giovanni in Somerset

The details are not quite sewn up yet but it now seems almost certain that I will be returning to Somerset Opera to direct "Don Giovanni". Looking forward to it hugely - My first directing in two years. I have missed it greatly.

Posting links

Hmm. the link posting function does not appear to work for me. Anyone got any ideas as to why that might be?

Hello from the coalface

Hello. This is my first posting on my new blog. I will be offering links to my reviews of live Classical Music events, thoughts on the wonderful world of professional theatre(!) and random thoughts on just about anything that comes to mind