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First Tuesday current affairs - Tuesday 7 November 7:00pm start
Manchester music reviews
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Manchester music reviews

MADAME X by Tim Benjamin

Tim Benjamin's MADAME X by RNCM

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2014

The lights go up on the stage and we see Masetto (a painter) and Zerlina (his lover and muse and the model for his paintings). Surrounding them are paintings done by Masetto, who reels off the titles (Woman With Flowered Hat!). They are interrupted by Botney, who is Masetto’s agent, he announces himself (The lovers! There’s no place like home). Two couples enter with Mr Wilmore (a wealthy capitalist) who catches sight of Zerlina (What lovely creature is this?).

 

There then follows a very funny sketch as the two couples harass the painter about the styles he works with. The painter is angered by the intrusions and has to be pacified so as not to upset the couples who are potential customers (Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg! Botney tells him).

 

Lady Brannoch (a wealth aristocrat) enters and introduces herself (...I am the Lady Brannoch, Dowager Countess of Brannoch...). Botney takes it upon himself to introduce Lady Brannoch to the Masetto (...the foremost artist of his generation...) and goes on to show Lady Brannoch Masetto’s works. Whilst the others are viewing the paintings Wilmore corners Zerlina. He disparages her life with Masetto (. . . such delicate perfections, all thrown away upon a senseless rustic . . .). She tells him that she is to marry Masetto but he persists. He tells her that if he cannot have her then he will have her likeness and announces that he will buy all the paintings and leaves.

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Des Grieux by Gwyn Hughes Jones. Photo by Johan Persson.

Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2014

 

For the spring season this year, Welsh National Opera have brought together two productions of the Manon Lescaut story: Puccini's Manon Lescaut and Hans Werner Henze's Boulevard Solitude. Though both operas relate the same story, based on the novella L'Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the 18th century author Antoine François Prévost, they could not be more different.

 

The lights go up on a busy railway waiting room, Des Grieux (Gwyn Hughes Jones) is curled upon a row of seats whilst the waiting room fills up. Edmondo (played as a cleaner) teases Des Grieux by stating what a beautiful night it is (Ave, sera gentile, che cliscendi. . .). Des Grieux bemoans his loneliness and his failure to find love (L'amor I Questa tragedia,ovver commedia). A woman steps into the crowd and Des Grieux is captivated. As she sits at the bar in the waiting area he approaches her tentatively.

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Bob Geldof: Boomtown Rats

Boomtown Rats at Manchester Academy

Reviewed by Catherine Smyth November 2013

 

Ok, I will admit that there was more grey and Grecian than in the band posters that adorned my wall when I was a teen. I was a ‘rebel’ who longed to see her favourite band; I even still have the single with the freebie ticket inside the clear vinyl but I never managed to get to the Bradford concert…

 

Now, nearly 30 years later, I finally got my golden ticket and it was worth the wait.

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Wagner Dream, Welsh National Opera

Wagner Dream by Jonathan Harvey

Libretto by Jean-Claude Carrière, WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2013

 

Sadly, Jonathan Harvey passed away last December and so did not look like we would get to see the staged premiere of Wagner Dream. After discussion with the composer WNO chose to present the opera in German and the ancient Pali, belonging to the Prakrit language group. It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures.

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Lohengrin, Welsh National Opera

Lohengrin by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2013

 

Antony McDonald updates the action to Bismarck’s Germany. I don’t think I have ever heard the prelude to Act 1 played so beautifully. Lothar Koenings took command of the orchestra from the start, making this as triumphant as last year’s Tristan and Isolde.

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