Trouble in Rice’s Underworld

  Emma Rice’s ENO staging of Orpheus in the Underworld has been much maligned in the traditional press recently, much to my dismay. Her efforts to update this nineteenth century operetta to suit the modern zeitgeist and ‘me too’  sensibility have been frowned upon by those supposedly in the know, who see her efforts to…

Gauguin Portraits at the National Gallery

  Would you have left your teenage daughter alone with Paul Gauguin? If her expression in Gauguin’s portrait (above) is anything to go by, Thérèse-Josephine de Nimal was none too happy at the prospect. Actually, I presume she was chaperoned but even so, the studio must have been positively crackling with electricity that day. Gauguin…

Into the Night at the Barbican

Shadow Theatre at Le Chat Noir, Paris.  I always look forward to the Barbican Gallery’s exhibitions. Theme-based with enticing titles, they always capture my imagination. The last show I covered there, entitled Art, Intimacy and the Avant-Garde (see here LOVE IN A CREATIVE CLIMATE) in January of this year, was riveting. With the theme of power…

‘Rembrandt’s Light’ lights up Dulwich

  A new show has opened for autumn at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s called Rembrandt’s Light. It’s intelligent, empathetic, surprising and at one point breathtaking, and I urge you all to go and see it as soon as possible. Dulwich, the UK’s earliest purpose-built public picture gallery (it was founded in 1811), was designed…

Pietà Premieres in London: Interview with composer Richard Blackford

    In June 2019 Frances Wilson reviewed Pietà, a new choral work by Richard Blackford for The Cross-Eyed Pianist. Drawing on the theme of maternal grief and loss, Blackford took as his starting point the Stabat Mater. It is a hymn to Mary, and portrays her suffering as Jesus Christ’s mother at his crucifixion. In…

Benjamin Britten and the Challenge of Singing

  Portrait of Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten  by Kenneth Green 1943   The voice is an extraordinary thing. Air pumped from our lungs, passes over the fleshy folds in our throat, to emit a full spectrum of sounds. Some more pleasing than others. Last weekend I shouted and screamed so hard at a football…

Interview: Star Baritone Jacques Imbrailo

    Jacques Imbrailo is singing in Jules Massenet’s Werther (see our review here) at the Royal Opera House and then he is off around the world on various singing engagements through 2020. In April this year, this rising star among baritones earned great reviews in Billy Budd and his Albert in Werther is another…

Werther: A Romance Worthy of Revival

Isabel Leonard, Charlotte. Juan Diego Flórez, Werther.   As I step into the  Royal Opera House’s stylish new café, there is the familiar Covent Garden buzz. It’s the opening night of Werther, and also the start of the new opera season. The talking points are Joyce di Donato’s upcoming title role in Agrippina. She was…