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The male gaze: Turning the screw

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It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Quick and not quite magical looks: Die Zauberflöte

Ekaterina Siurina as Pamina and Albina Shagimuratova as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte © ROH / Mike Hoban 2013This current sold out run of Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) at the Royal Opera is a curiosity that veers from being full of life to being a drag (and back again). It makes for a night out, but not a particularly magical one. There is some fine singing (although not from everyone) and the occasional wonderful set piece, but the end result is that this production lacks a bit of fun and comedic timing that you would hope to see.

Conductor Julia Jones often takes things at a slow pace which makes the evening seem much longer than necessary. While it gives a new appreciation for the music it does feel at times to be a bit of an academic exercise.

The under-lit production, full of Freemason imagery to labour underscore the plot, does not help and there was a curious choice to make Albina Shagimuratova as Queen of the Night sing her signature aria in act two kneeling on top of a bed (as above). Not quite the grand spectacle I imagined for here, even if she sounds incredible and had the audience applauding her. While many consider this production lavish, after ten years it does not feel like it is ageing well and feels a bit dated.

The run is dedicated to Sir Colin Davis, who passed away recently and an emotional dedication was delivered by Antonio Pappano before the start. It completes it season on 9 May. Photo credit: Mike Hoban.



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