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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

A Wagner opera production is always an event unmatched by any other. The passion displayed on stage is generally reflected by the audience. Perhaps no other opera produces greater feeling than Tristan and Isolde.

 

Based on the 13th Century poem of Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg, Wagner took one section of the story and rewrote it. The result was an opera that casts a giant shadow over all aspects of musical composition, even to this very day. As the conductor of this performance says in the programme notes “With its expansion of harmony, its achievement of chromatic independence, and its ‘emancipation of dissonance’, Tristan ultimately leads the way to atonality and to twelve-tone composition.” We can certainly feel the hand of Wagner’s Tristan on the early Schoenberg and throughout Mahler’s works.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - La bohème

La bohème by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

For its Summer 2012 season, Welsh National Opera presents two of the greatest and most famous operas on the theme of love. But the two could not be more different: Puccini’s classic, La bohème, gives us a real-life approach to love, with all its irrationality and heartache. Wagner’s masterpiece, Tristan and Isolde, meanwhile, positions love in the realms of a virtue that is even higher than valour or duty.

 

Are you put off the idea of opera by all those hysterical protagonists, highbrow plots and sky-high prices? Well, watch this myth busting video by Tim Rhys Evans on the WNO website. But if I could recommend one single opera, above all others, to the uninitiated it would be La bohème. An opera replete with the most beautiful melodies that combine with a simple tale to melt the blackest of hearts.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Shades of Diva

Shades of Diva by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan

Performed at Three Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade

Reviewed by Simon Belt June 2012

 

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Lloyd Eyre-Morgan's Shades of Diva. Accurately described as a musical drama, it was being performed in a converted shop under Afflecks Palace which is now Manchester’s funky new Three Minute Theatre. What I experienced was a refreshing and delightful reminder of the creative and dedicated passion people have for theatre, and the effort they will put in to make sure the show goes on, and that it's quality.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Rolf Sings

Rolf Harris: can you tell what it is yet?

Walker Gallery, Liverpool

Reviewed by Jane Turner June 2012

 

Many years ago, I took part in a discussion entitled What is Art? At the time, I couldn’t understand why a bunch of revolutionaries were sitting around intellectualising about whether or not a chair was a work of art or a functional object, whilst half the country was in dispute with the government. I might have been a little economistic in my outlook, but I’m still not sure to this day if we came up with a satisfactory answer.

 

When an Art lover, a canny investor or maybe just someone with more money than sense, can spend 74 million pounds on The Scream by Munsch - a painting that makes me feel miserable every time I see it - I still can’t figure out the Art World.

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Manchester music reviews

Halle Orchestra, photo by Joel Chester Fildes

Fanfare for H.M. the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Hallé Orchestra at The Bridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

Thirty-five years ago, as a 19-year old, spotty-faced youth, I bought myself a copy of the Sex Pistols’ single God Save The Queen. It was the latest landmark in an exciting youth movement and like many others of my age we were caught up in the Punk scene. It was rebellious, exciting and struck an anti-establishment pose. We didn’t examine the more reactionary facets, such as the sneering manner in which Johnny Rotten, and the rest, viewed the masses with a patronising contempt for their celebrations of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. More than a third of a century later, I find myself at a concert celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and enjoying it immensely.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Waiting for Brando

Waiting for Brando

at Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2012

 

There is an urban myth borne of two areas of modern mythology: cinema and Liverpool. When Elia Kazan was filming On The Waterfront, in 1953 in a dockside bar in New York, two Liverpool merchant seamen were allowed to stay during the filming. Apparently you can see the backs of their heads in a mirror.

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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Favela at The Royal Standard

Favela At The Royal Standard

Reviewed by Denis Joe May 2012

 

'The Royal Standard was established in 2006 by four Liverpool-based artists in response to the need for a new artist-led organisation that would operate somewhere in between the city’s grass-roots DIY initiatives and the more established arts institutions. Originally housed in a former pub in Toxteth, in 2008 The Royal Standard undertook an ambitious relocation and expansion into a larger industrial space on the Northern periphery of the city centre, re-launching to acclaim for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial.'     [The Royal Standard Website]

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Manchester film reviews

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Screened at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviewed by Anne Ryan May 2012

 

At a time when the American dream seems further away than ever for the majority of its citizens, Wes Anderson harks back to an America that never was, a world of small town eccentrics whose lives are characterised by an almost Capraesque decency and sweetness.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Spamalot at Opera House

Monty Python’s Spamalot at Opera House

By Eric Idle and John Du Prez

Reviewed by Helen Nugent May 2012


As someone who spent a great deal of their student life quoting the Knights Who Say Ni and demanding a shrubbery, news that Monty Python’s Spamalot was coming to Manchester was as thrilling a prospect as meeting the keeper of the Bridge of Death.

 

For the uninitiated, Monty Python’s eccentric blend of non sequiturs, half-finished sketches and stream of consciousness comedy can seem baffling. But on the first evening of a week-long run at Manchester’s Opera House, the majority of the audience were clearly hardened fans who delight in regurgitating Python scripts.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Can We Talk About This?

Can We Talk About This? at The Lowry

Conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson

Reviewed by John Hutchinson May 2012

 

A very powerful piece of theatre was on display at The Lowry Centre in Salford, one that is an expression of our times and a direct challenge to our modern taboos and anxieties. This is not art that is imaginative, virtual, or creative, if by these terms we mean some form of fiction or installation that reframes or reshuffles our perceptions as many modern art exhibitions are intended to do.

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