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Indestructible Janacek

Listing page content here Janacek’s The Makropulos Case remains a bewildering work, as in fact almost all his operas after Jenufa, and with the exception of The Cunning Little Vixen, are. Capek’s play from which Janacek made his libretto is called a comedy, but the opera, though it has a few jokes, is mainly a

German gems

Listing page content here It is hard to embrace Max Reger. For a start, he is surely the physically ugliest of all composers, surpassing even Prokofiev, or Zemlinsky, whose repulsiveness actually inspired an opera libretto. Reger’s slobbish face, plus pince-nez and thick sulky lips, already anticipates the music’s mix of shortsighted with greedy grossness. Still

Double identity

Listing page content here I can’t make up my mind about Shared Experience. Since 1988, this company has been adapting classic works of literature, transforming some of the greatest books in the Western canon into visceral pieces of physical theatre. The results are distinctly mixed. On the one hand, the plays are rarely more than

Company celebrations

Staging the 1890 classic The Sleeping Beauty in the 21st century is not an easy task. Recent studies, discoveries and even philological reconstructions have heightened historical and stylistic awareness among dance-goers, thus generating expectations that cannot be easily overlooked. Yet philology and historical accuracy alone turn any work into a dead museum exhibit, at the

The good things in life

Listening to The Archive Hour: Down Your Way Revisited on Radio Four (Saturday) made me wonder why the network got rid of the programme in 1995. It had been running since 1946, with a simple formula of interviews and music, the idea of a producer called Leslie Perowne. It visited towns and villages across the

Destabilising forces

‘Picasso, Miró, Masson and the vision of Georges Bataille’ is the subtitle of the latest extravaganza at the Hayward Gallery. Georges Bataille (1897–1962) is one of those buzz figures, beloved of the moment, without a quote from whom no contemporary art-speak catalogue introduction is complete. He has been influential as a philosopher as well as

Trusting to instinct

This year is Opera Holland Park’s tenth anniversary season, and to my great shame I have never attended a performance, despite having had the best intentions of doing so for roughly the past ten years. If I don’t turn up this summer, I get the feeling I’ll be in serious trouble with the two men

No messing with redheads

The X-Men trilogy has been a superior translation of comic book to big screen (although I wouldn’t bet money on this being truly ‘The Last Stand’; probably more like ‘The Second Last Stand’, given its ambiguous closing shot). Part of its charm has been the willingness of the writers to handle the metaphor of the

Special relationship | 24 May 2006

In 1990 I published a lengthy article on Sicily — and was astonished by the response from English readers who had connections with the island, in some cases going back 200 years and more. All, with one exception, were nostalgic. The exception was an evidently elderly Englishman who was born in Sicily, but never returned