Showing posts from January, 2011

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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Art: Shadow Catchers Camera-Less Photography

Shadow Catchers - V&A from Sound Films on Vimeo . The Victoria and Albert Museum has been running an excellent little exhibition since October last year on Shadow Catchers: Camera-less photography and I managed to take a look at it over the weekend. After brushing up on what a photogram is via the Art of Photography (basically its an image created by placing an object on light sensitive paper), we headed over to the V&A to look at some shadows... This exhibition is an opportunity take in some extraordinary pieces that leave a lot up to the imagination, or at least provoke it a little. The low light of the exhibition space helps, and adds a moody atmosphere. There is beauty with the simplicity of the works, particularly those that hinted at absent objects. They appeared less impressive when combined with other photographic techniques, although it is easy to appreciate the effort required in their production. It is at the V&A until February 20... Initial boo tho

Movies: The Black Swan

Just before it opened this week I caught a preview of The Black Swan , the Natalie Portman movie which currently has posters all throughout the tube network. It is a gripping film about paranoia, fear, dedication and broken nails. Portman plays the role of Nina, who is coming to grips with the leading role in Swan Lake, while fearing her understudy played by the sexually provocative Mila Kunis. You don't see much ballet so it is not a modern day The Red Shoes . It has more in common with films such as Polanski's The Tennant . The art is metaphor here and the central message surely has to be you can never try hard enough, as long as you stay away from broken mirrors and lesbian fantasies... The debate about whether it remotely resembles anything of life in the ballet will continue. This is a movie so one suspects it is as far removed from reality as possible. Winnona Ryder is supposed to be a brilliant ballerina in her decline but spends her small amount of screen time looking

Opera: La Bohème

The first attempt to see La Bohème at the Cock Tavern last month was thwarted by snow (and the subsequent obligatory transport disruptions), so it was a relief to catch it at the Soho Theatre on Tuesday night to see what the fuss was all about. This production of Boheme updates the story to the present day and is in English. The story is now in London Soho where poor struggling bloggers writers are trying to make ends meet. Mimi is an eastern European migrant worker who makes a bare living cleaning people's homes. When you read stories about homeless Poles eating rats , none of the problems the characters face in the opera seem far from the harsh realities for some of living in London today. While the singing is good (but not great), what sets this show a cut above anything else is the passion and emotion the cast convey. There is an awful lot of energy and enthusiasm here... At the end of the second act everyone is asked to make their way to the bar, and the show commen

First Impressions: la bohème at the Soho Theatre

First impressions below of an emotionally charged and thrilling night at the theatre. It's return run at the Soho Theatre is until 20 February. More later... Listen! Listen!

Movies: 127 Hours

I caught the movie 127 Hours over the weekend. Directed by Danny Boyle and starring James Franco , the film is the real-life story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who became trapped by a boulder in Robbers Roost, Utah, for more than five days in 2003. Those familiar with the story know how he escapes but up to that point the movie is a great example of what not to do when messing about with nature. His escape had many people covering their eyes to avoid watching the movie at that point. I was later told that I was the only male doing this in the cinema, but I will insist that I was not. It was pretty gruesome and graphic and I could understand why those more sensitive movie-goers in Norwich might require medical attention... Franco keeps this an intense but very entertaining movie throughout and you're with him all the way. While he isn't as sexy in this film as he is selling Gucci fragrances, there is something very likeable about the character he has created here. Th

Overheard on the bus Sunday

Girl on the telephone : I was like, "Excuse me but what kind of professional goes back and looks at detail like that?" I actually hate him... Just a little bit...

Theatre: Totem, Cirque du Soleil

Wednesday evening was an opportunity to catch Cirque du Soleil's new production, Totem at the Royal Albert Hall. Since Johnnyfox is touring South America and probably not into acrobatics of this sort, Gio came along. It was a perfectly grey and wet evening and before taking our seats we decided to savour the damp and watch as the celebrities arrived. Well for me, that was mostly asking Gio, "Who's Katherine Jenkins ?" and "Who's that?" I am pretty lousing recognising celebrities... But for the record, Katherine Jenkins (left) did look lovely in that yellow dress ... Once I was given the lowdown of who she was... Anyway I have until now been a cirque virgin. Sure I had seen La Clique at the Hippodrome and Soap at Hammersmith Studios. But after watching Wednesday's performance that featured a number of sexy acts including the trapeze duo pictured above, I was ready for a cigarette. Cirque du Soleil is not the only show in town that present thes

First impressions: Totem: Cirque du Soleil

It was survival of the acrobats at Totem, Cirque du Soleil's latest production which opened tonight at Royal Albert Hall . This spectacular show traces the journey of humans from amphibians to acrobats in glittering costumes. It all goes to show that we have come a long way (or at least some of us have). The comedy relief was more hit than miss so in this evolutionary tale the acrobats are ahead. First impressions below... Listen! Listen!

Movies: Burlesque

I went along to see Burlesque on New Year's Day as I figured it would be camp and it would be crap. I was not disappointed. Leaving the cinema three other women were chatting to us commenting how dreadful they thought the film was. I was not sure what they were expecting in this Moulin Rouge meets Chicago meets Cabaret meets Devil Wears Prada meets Glitter musical about air rights and condos in downtown Los Angeles. Watching it as an extended music video of Christina Aguilera songs is probably the best way to see this film... Along with watching it with a group of people after a few cocktails. Drink will help ease the pain of the plot and that dialogue... It is also a pity that the very talented supporting cast is not allowed to do some more scene chewing. Instead we are stuck with some very creepy scenes of Cher playing den mother and helping Christina put on lip gloss... All without moving any facial muscles... This is so bad... It is kinda good... I can't wait for the