Arts feature

Morality takes to the stage

Henrietta Bredi joins in the preparations for Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ ‘Come, thou blessed of the Lord’ sing the sopranos and altos, and now the tenors and basses are joining them, with a wondrously layered swelling of sound. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end — this is the

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Concrete and carbuncles

‘London smells Tory,’ announced Ian Martin, the Beachcomber of architectural journalism post-Boris in his weekly column in the Architects’ Journal. Heritage wars have broken out over the future of a concrete housing scheme, Robin Hood Gardens in East London by Alison and Peter Smithson, that is beloved of architects, but not, it seems, of many

Verdi’s riches

Don Carlo Royal Opera House Verdi’s Don Carlo is as much of an obsession for me as one of my favourite operas. Though it isn’t perfect, and can’t be made perfect, whatever you include or eliminate from the extraordinary number of options available (including two languages), it has so many prolonged scenes of incontrovertible greatness,

Dylan obsession

There are artists you admire and there are artists you love, and for me Bob Dylan has long fallen into the former category. I have been listening to him, sporadically, since I was a schoolboy, when his rebellious stance and imagistic, freewheeling lyrics had an obvious appeal to a bolshie adolescent at a boy’s boarding

Unappealing characters

Rosmersholm Almeida Love — The Musical Lyric Fat Pig Trafalgar Studio A Norwegian melodrama about suicide, socialism and thwarted sexual passion. If you saw that on the poster would you be tempted? Nor me. Add the authorship of Ibsen and you might change your mind but you’d be unwise. Rosmersholm is a clumsy, unengaging late

Drawing a blank | 11 June 2008

Irina Palm 15, Barbican and key cities The big film this week is, I suppose, The Incredible Hulk but I chose not to see it because, aside from anything else, isn’t this the second Hulk film in about ten minutes? When was the Ang Lee one? I have no idea why it’s come round again

It’s so unfair

Margaret Thatcher – the Long Walk to Finchley (BBC4)  You don’t have to look very hard for signs that the Tories are going to romp home in the next general election. There was another one on TV this week: a drama showing Margaret Thatcher as an achingly sexy young woman who made fantastic speeches and

Campaign trail

Just when you thought it was safe to come out, here he is again. Still on Radio Four but in a surprising new guise; not performing but acting. On Sunday afternoon, John Prescott, MP, took a leading role as ‘The Policeman’ in the Classic Serial. Or rather he gave us nine economical lines in a


Mixed blessings

Summer Exhibition Royal Academy, until 17 August The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, now in its 240th year, is still an event, even if visitors don’t dress up quite as ornately as once they did. For the first time I attended Buyers’ Day. The atmosphere is convivial but competitive, as people jostle to see