Saturday, August 15, 2009


God, this is going to look ridiculous, but here are some things I've seen but haven't had the time to review, so a mini-review is appended:

All's Well That Ends Well (Olivier, National Theatre): wondrous gothic fairytale staging redeems thin play, reminiscent of Winter's Tale with split between Paris and Florence, one a crystal castle, the other the Costa del Italia. Bizarre and discomfiting are Helena's obsessive love for Bertram and the lengths of deception she goes to, even as he treats her terribly. I assume the title is ironic.

Prom 22: MGM musicals (Royal Albert Hall): a joyous evening, starting off with heavy-hitters like Over the Rainbow and the Trolley Song, which Kim Cresswell delivered with aplomb. Curtis Stigers' voice is a little hoarse and he forgot some of the words. Seth MacFarlane (yes, he of Family Guy) has a very passable Sinatraesque voice, and did some of his lines as Stewie. Thomas Allen had a wonderful tone in More Than You Know and Gigi. Slight programme snobbery: Cresswell and Stigers are 'vocalists', Allen and Sarah Fox are 'baritone' and 'soprano'.

Un ballo in maschera (Opera Holland Park): my first full Verdi in my plan of attack for opera (on which craziness more another time). Despite contextual and hence onomastic oddities (Italian opera about Swedish assassination moved to colonial America and here staged in modern America), an enticing mix of love triangle and politics with some powerful music and a clever staging made a good evening. Amanda Echalaz was wonderful as Amelia, powerful and sweet. The music is often confused, however, rendering comic for dramatic moments, and the staging (hokey witch Ulrica is a reality tv star) could be a little too clever and meta.

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