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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

Death Becomes Her: La Traviata @RoyalOperaHouse

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The original hooker with a heart of gold (and lungs full of blood) is back at The Royal Opera House for the Christmas period and beyond. It’s a bright and stylish production that was first seen at the Royal Opera twenty five years ago. But La Traviata, or the “fallen woman”, is more than just froth, bubbles and champagne. It’s also about the frailty of life and how redemption can come in many guises. In this particular version conducted by Daniel Oren, it’s the somber more reflective moments that stand out. Whether you like that sort of thing or not.  In case you were wondering if there’s a plot to all these emotions in La Traviata, it centres around Violetta, a courtesan who at one of her lavish parties dumps one lover for another. But her new suitor, a moderately wealthy man called Alfredo, turns out to be more than she expected and they both fall in love. Meanwhile Alfredo’s bourgeois father seeks to restore the family honour while Violetta grapples with moral choices while

Opera Quick looks: Grand drama with Les Vêpres siciliennes #Rohvepres

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It is a spectacular and grand evening at the opera with the current production of Les Vêpres siciliennes . I caught the sixth ever performance of this production at the Royal Opera (which is also being broadcast around the world at cinemas ). While it helps to understand the historical context of the thirteenth century French occupation of Sicily, even more important is understanding a grand opera, its characteristics and excesses. Once you accept all this, it is a hell of a night. The production manages to pare back some of the spectacle in favour of focusing the story on four principals and a story of betrayal and family secrets is brought to the fore. The production is more a commentary on grand opera traditions, but works. Verdi's music with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and conductor Antonio Pappano is so stirring and rousing its tempting to want to join the revolutionaries. There are two more nights for it to run and a handful of tickets are available. Don'