Salon Strauss

An opera without singers, a Strauss orchestra of just 16, and an early music ensemble playing Mahler: welcome to the Oxford Lieder Festival, where familiar repertoire is getting a reboot this year thanks to some brilliantly ambitious programming. When it comes to classical music, we’re used to living in a bifurcated world. On the one

Arts feature

Seeing the light | 19 October 2017

Dance is an ephemeral art. It keeps few proper records of its products. Reputations are written in rumours and reviews. And by reputation, Kenneth MacMillan was the dark genius of British ballet — its destroyer, if you listen to some. They think this country’s classical ballet reached its pinnacle under the Apollonian hand of Frederick

More from Arts

The Bilbao effect

Twenty years ago I wrote of the otherwise slaveringly praised Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao: I’m in a minority of, apparently, one. It strikes me as a consummate gimmick… a fantastically elaborate and rather wearisome joke. Has mankind spent all these centuries perfecting Euclidean geometry and orthogonal engineering in order to have it overthrown by massively

St Vincent: Masseduction

Grade: A The old Tulsa sound was a rather agreeable low-key, shuffling, blues-inflected rockabilly — primarily J.J. Cale and Leon Russell. Which then somehow mutated into the anglophile pop of Dwight Twilley. Here’s the third wave of it — probably the best yet, much though I admire all the aforementioned. A strange lady, St Vincent


The bad sex award

Simon Stephens gives his plays misleading titles. Nuclear War, Pornography and Punk Rock contained little trace of their advertised ingredients. Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle includes no information about the German physicist or his theories. This is a sentimental romcom starring Anne-Marie Duff as a giggling airhead who stalks a grunting Cockney shopkeeper played by Kenneth


Mad Men – The Opera

Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti begins not with a prelude, but a jingle. In Matthew Eberhardt’s production a trio of session singers clusters around a studio microphone. A clarinet throws out a slinky riff, the ‘On Air’ light blinks on, and they’re off: a swinging hymn to postwar suburbia, in Andrews Sisters close-harmony. Then we


Saints and sinners | 19 October 2017

Any rival reality-TV makers watching Channel 5 on Thursday will, I suspect, have been both mystified and slightly embarrassed at not having thought up Bad Habits, Holy Orders themselves. After all, the concept is a blindingly obvious one. Take five young women whose primary interests are selfies, booze and clubbing and make them live like


It’s the thought that counts

During a panel discussion in 1949, Frank Lloyd Wright made an undiplomatic comment about Marcel Duchamp’s celebrated picture of 1912, ‘Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2’, in the presence of the artist. ‘I am sure he doesn’t himself regard it as a great picture now.’ At this Duchamp bridled, exclaiming in his excellent English, ‘I


Comedy of terrors

Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin is nearly two hours of men in bad suits bickering, but if you have to sit through nearly two hours of men in bad suits bickering you would want it to be written (and directed) by Iannucci. So there’s that, but it’s still not up there with his previous


Speed limit | 19 October 2017

Slow radio is popping up everywhere at the moment — programmes that have no outward form but just meander through the schedule, and often, but not always, are played out live in real time. In spite of their spontaneous feel and free flow these programmes have usually been carefully orchestrated, and that’s part of slow