Refreshing Rigoletto? You must be joking

Quinn Kelsey as Rigoletto photograped by Alastair Muir

  The English National Opera has a really big problem – or, rather, has given itself a big problem. It has decided to “refresh” its core repertory by commissioning a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The rub is that the former staging wasn’t just any old Rigoletto, it was Jonathan Miller’s greatest of all Rigolettos, first staged in 1982 – a production that brought new audiences to the … [Read more...]

Dear George Clooney, About those marbles…

British Museum, The Elgin Marbles

    Dear George Clooney,   As another Lexington, Kentucky boy, I’ve often wanted to write a fan letter to you. (I’ve been told that some members of our families knew each other, though I’m a good deal older than you, and left my old KY home when you were a child.) Monuments Men is the perfect excuse, as I’m now working on a feature  and a video piece for The Wall … [Read more...]

Don self-absorbed and solitary?

photograph by Bill Cooper

Royal Opera House Director of Opera Kasper Holten’s first dive into directing a production at Covent Garden was a belly-flop Eugene Onegin. He was been more successful with the current Don Giovanni, at least to the extent that seeing and hearing it is an enjoyable experience.  If his staging contains no new insights into the piece or its title character, it is good to look at, and sung and played … [Read more...]

It ain’t Shakespeare

Ben Miles as Cromwell photo by Keith Pattison

The secret of the success of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies is seeing the events of the reign of Henry VIII through the eyes of an unlikely character in the grand sweep of history, Thomas Cromwell. A London lawyer with a reputation for toughness and bullying, the son of a butcher and therefore not a gentleman, a collector of books by Luther and Tyndale’s bible – and … [Read more...]