Barbican

Cold and confusing: Garsington's Die Zauberflöte reviewed

9 June 2018 9:00 am

The picnic hamper’s open, the bubbly is chilled, and country house opera is starting to eat itself. When you arrive…

Dudamel's Amériques made The Rite of Spring sound like Einaudi

12 May 2018 9:00 am

Apparently it’s called ‘expectation management’. Pollux, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, takes its name from…

Gorgeous but exhausting: Jurowski/LPO at Royal Festival Hall reviewed

9 December 2017 9:00 am

To get a flavour of Joseph Marx’s An Autumn Symphony, picture the confectionery counter in a grand Viennese café. Beneath…

Simon Rattle’s Rite of Spring was the best I’ve ever heard

30 September 2017 9:00 am

I was going to start with a little moan. About the shouty marketing, the digital diarrhoea, the sycophantic drivel, which,…

Simon Rattle’s job title has less clout than a viscountcy

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Much fuss has been made of the title given to Sir Simon Rattle on arrival at the London Symphony Orchestra.…

Haydn would surely have approved of Simon Rattle’s repackaging of the symphonies

22 July 2017 9:00 am

‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!’ wrote Elgar, quoting Shelley, at the top of his Second Symphony. He should…

One of the most compelling pop singers right now is a gender-fluid observant Jew

22 July 2017 9:00 am

The most compelling pop singers in music right now — at least in the branch where pop singers still play…

They like to move it: voguing at Club a la Mode, New York, 1998

A short history of voguing – an art, a sport, a way of life

15 July 2017 9:00 am

It’s dance — but not as you know it. A giddy mass of flying limbs, sashaying hips and pouty faces.…

Insufferable rubbish: Glyndebourne’s Hipermestra reviewed

27 May 2017 9:00 am

Anyone who thinks they have experienced absolute boredom, or even doubts that such a state can exist, should go to…

Sunyoung Seo as Liù, Alastair Miles as Timur and Rafael Rojas as Calaf in Opera North’s production of Turandot

Puccini at his most enjoyably reprehensible: Opera North’s Turandot reviewed

6 May 2017 9:00 am

Some opera-lovers prefer concert performances to full stagings. I don’t. It’s that whole Gesamtkunstwerk thing: opera needs to be seen…

London’s orchestral scene is dead. Time to change the music – and some CEOs

15 April 2017 9:00 am

For much of the past half-century, London has been the world’s orchestral capital. Not always in quality, but numerically without…

A ravishing Rameau premiere – pity the choreography was pure Bez

15 April 2017 9:00 am

The English weren’t the first cowpat composers. Jean-Philippe Rameau raised the art of frolicking in the fields to such heights…

Spare us the gerontophilia

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Brahms didn’t always have a beard. The picture in the London Symphony Orchestra’s programme book showed him clean-shaven, and rightly.…

The thrills are in the visuals: Philip Glass’s Les Enfants Terribles reviewed

4 February 2017 9:00 am

Kids: who’d have them? Certainly no one who has ever been to the opera. If they’re not murdering you, they’re…

A memorable evening, though not one I’d want to repeat: Le grand macabre reviewed

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The Barbican website warns us that Ligeti’s opera Le grand macabre ‘contains very strong language and adult themes’. The strong…

Why are so many composers drawn to the Stabat Mater?

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Music likes to tell the same story over and over again. This is part of its tradition but even individual…

Putting the flag out: Martin McDougall (Howard) and Sean Delaney (John) in ‘Labyrinth’

What RSC’s The Alchemist needs is a James Corden or Matt Lucas

17 September 2016 9:00 am

Coleridge deemed the narrative structure of The Alchemist perfect. But, I wonder. A landowner quits plague-ridden London and his cunning…

The day I tried to rescue the alcoholic former Master of the Queen’s Music

10 September 2016 9:00 am

I was looking forward to going to Malcolm Williamson’s opera English Eccentrics set to a text by Edith Sitwell at…

Three hours of vomit, fellatio and menstruation: Isabelle Huppert on Phaedra(s)

4 June 2016 9:00 am

A blushing James Woodall is riveted by Isabelle Huppert’s performance in Phaedra(s)

Is there a funnier opera than Gerald Barry’s Importance of Being Earnest?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

Comic opera is no laughing matter. Seriously, when was the last time you laughed out loud in the opera house?…

The rotten fruits of Peter Maxwell Davies’s modernism

9 April 2016 9:00 am

The intransigence of Maxwell Davies, Boulez and Stockhausen is coming home to roost. Here were three composers, famous if not…

Does the great Bach conductor Masaaki Suzuki think his audience will burn in hell?

12 March 2016 9:00 am

Damian Thompson talks to the great Bach conductor — and strict Calvinist — Masaaki Suzuki

Naked ambition: Anthony Roth Costanzo in Philip Glass’s ‘Akhnaten’

In a world full of zombie new operas, thank god for Philip Glass’s Akhnaten

12 March 2016 9:00 am

A mixed year so far for new opera. A few really dismal things have appeared from people who should know…

Through a lens darkly: from the series ‘New Brighton’ , ‘The Last Resort’, 1985

‘I enjoy the banal’: Stephen Bayley meets Martin Parr

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The photographer Martin Parr claims to like ordinary people, but are his pictures celebratory or mocking, asks Stephen Bayley

Powerful and upsetting: Pelléas et Mélisande at the Barbican reviewed

16 January 2016 9:00 am

There are some operas, as there are some people, that it is impossible to establish a settled relationship with, and…