Insula Orchestra presents Fidelio at the Barbican on its European tour

In a special one-nighter, Paris-based orchestra, Insula, performed its new, semi-staged production of Fidelio at the Barbican this week. Insula’s stop-off in London was part of Insula’s European tour, which ends in a staged version of the opera in Paris’s new concert hall, La Seine Musicale on 14th, 16th and 18th May In opera, semi-staged can mean as little as a…

Walter Sickert Unsettles and Enchants at Tate Britain Retrospective

Walter Sickert is a bit of an enigma. Brilliant certainly, rather weird, probably. Author, Patricia Cornwell, wrote a book about him, claiming that he was the Jack the Ripper. She is not the first writer to associate Sickert with the infamous murderer. Other writers postulate that Sickert was the Ripper’s assistant. What is undeniable, is that Sickert…

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022

The exhibition shows the work from two publications and two exhibitions of four nominees: Deana Lawson, Anastasia Samoylova, Jo Ractliffe and Gilles Peress. All four photographers challenge, in different ways, preconceived histories by using their own photographic evidence to posit alternative viewpoints.

Handmaid’s Tale – Opera For Our Time

When Margaret Atwood’s published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 it caused a stir. In the author’s dystopian novel, young women who have transgressed the societal rules of authoritarian republic Gilead, are sentenced to spend the rest of their child-bearing years producing offspring for childless couples.  You don’t need to look very far to understand where Canadian Atwood got her…

Body horror: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, at English National Opera

This icy, subtle production presents Margaret Atwood’s terrifying vision with a clear-sighted, almost detached precision. Poul Ruders’s score gets under your skin, amping up the tension as events come to a head, while the heart-breaking performances relentlessly deal the emotional blows. Opera as commentary, catharsis and conscience: brilliantly done. * ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ the opera,…

Ice flows: Penguin Cafe, Barbican, London

Penguin Cafe’s recent performance at London’s Barbican Centre is likely to go down, in my own personal annals, as one of my favourite concerts of all time. It still feels like hyperbole to type that: it was only a few weeks ago. But how can I explain? – that wave of euphoria that carries you…

Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

The point of this exhibition, as the title suggests, is to look beyond metropolitan France at the wider diaspora of the movement launched by André Breton’s Manifeste du surréalisme in 1924. Perhaps the first truly international art movement, Surrealism seems to have cropped up almost everywhere over the next half century, in locations as varied as Egypt, Syria, Nigeria,…