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Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

I don’t know how to categorise Otis & Eunice at the Royal College of Music. It’s a story with music and dance told in two venues in two cities with a video link enabling it to move from one to the other or both simultaneously. A collaboration between six institutions – RCM, RAM, LAMDA, RADA, BOV Theatre School and Central School of Ballet – it proved to be a very welcome innovation indeed.

Classical Music

Where has Puccini’s Messa di Gloria been all my life? Written as a graduation piece, it’s a very original setting of the mass and the LSO & LSC under Antonio Pappano at the Barbican gave it their all. A piece by his teacher Ponchielli and a rarely heard Verdi string quartet expanded for orchestra (which he knocked up while waiting for his Aida sopranos to get better!) completed a thoroughly satisfying concert.

Contemporary Music

On an impulse, at two hours’ notice, I dumped a theatre ticket to go and see Roy Harper at the London Palladium in what will probably prove to be one of his final shows. It was at times rambling and ragged, and he now struggles with his trademark high notes, but it was littered with gems which more than made up for it, three new songs that proved he hasn’t lost his song writing ability and waves of warmth and love from an audience for whom, like me, he is clearly part of the soundtrack of their lives.

Dance

The six BalletBoyz dancers were mesmerising in their double-bill Them/Us at Sadler’s Wells and I loved the music from both Keaton Henson for Us and Charlotte Harding for Them. It was particularly good to see that they choreographed Them themselves. Every BalletBoyz show brings something new and inventive and this was no exception.

For his latest work at Sadler’s Wells, the ever so eclectic Russell Maliphant takes his inspiration for The Thread from traditional Greek dance, with a score by Vangelis no less. Some have called it Greek Riverdance and though there is a grain of truth in that, it was at times thrilling and at other times beautiful, though perhaps not sustaining its 80 minute length; perhaps a shorter version paired with a contrasting work might have been more satisfying. Michael Hulls’ lighting was as gorgeous as ever, though so dark it brought its challenges! Mary Katrantzou’s costumes were lovely.

Sometimes the most anticipated shows disappoint, and so it was with Pepperland at Sadler’s Wells. Only five songs from the album it purports to celebrate (+ Penny Lane) in poor arrangements, plus uninspired choreography. It was far from the 50th anniversary celebration I’d expected and fell flat on its face. I’m a big fan, but after two duds in a row, even I’m beginning to wonder if Mark Morris has gone off the boil.

At Sadler’s Wells again, Northern Ballet Theatre’s Victoria maintains their outstanding reputation for dance drama in a great piece of storytelling, with inventive chorography, beautiful design and a glorious score played live by their orchestra. The biggest treat of the four evenings there this month.

Film

The Basis of Sex was a lot better than the reviews suggested, but then I’m a sucker for sentimental underdog stories, though this one was about someone who did more for equal opportunity than probably anyone else, in the US at lease.

Almost every film I’ve seen this year has been based on a true story, but Fighting With My Family, about a Norwich wrestling family, is probably the most unlikely. It’s also very funny and heart-warming. A proper British feel-good film.

The Kid Who Would Be King may be a kids film, but I thought it was engaging, charming and an antidote to the seemingly endless march of Marvel tosh, and the special effects were brilliant!

Art

A lean month indeed! Just the annual Wildlife Photography Award Exhibition at the Natural History Museum, its usual feast of brilliant photography, with some new and different themes to keep it fresh.

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Even though I live in a big city, arriving in Melbourne after a week in sleepy Tasi was a bit of a shock to the system. I was concious of behaving just like those London tourists I ‘tut tut’ at all the time.

After an afternoon taking in the inner suburbs by car, we walked into Her Majesty’s Theatre and I knew instantly I was going to have a good time – the seats had been covered in gold, silver, turquoise and pink lurex. From then on, it was a riot of colour and the smile hardly left my face. True to his own 1992 film Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrman’s stage musical was warm-hearted, quirky and funny (and very colourful!). Little did he know its title would inspire a TV franchise that would lead to a resurgance in the dancing to which it is a homage. It was a great start to this second leg of the trip.

The following morning, I set off with my friends Gordon & Liz for Apollo Bay, taking it slowly along the Great Ocean Road, stopping occasionally, to their ocean-side home with 180 degree views of the said ocean, home cooking, too much wine (not a complaint) and a 4-day chill-out. Trips to Cape Otway and its lighthouse and resident koalas, the extraordinary Twelve Apostles rock formations at the ocean’s edge and a treetop walk in the temperate rainforst distraced us from the food and wine. Briefly. Four days later I was back in Melbourne.

When I revisit cities and find them better, I often wonder whether they have actually improved or whether I’m just a better traveller and get more out of them. Melbourne is a case in point; in truth probably a bit of both. It has certainly grown in the last 15 years, pretty free of the economic woes of other cities. Suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed my revisit. I wandered the new Docklands, the expanded Southbank and the central core, uncovering architectural gems missed before like the shopping arcades and the bold new Federation Square next to Flinders St Station, now the heart of the city. The art bowled me over, both at the Ian Potter Centre for Australian Art and at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) International. Great permanent collections and some terrific temporary exhibitions, I was in my element.

A tour of the Victoria Parliament, spookily like our own, was both informative and funny and a visit to James Cook’s parents cottage relocated from Yorkshire 80 years ago somewhat surreal. The city has many new buildings, chief amongst them the Eureka Building on Southbank which provided terrific 360 degree views from its 88th floor, which I quickly followed by views up from a Yarra river cruise. I was lucky enough to catch up with three people from a former client over a dinner and a lunch and to catch favourite comedian Adam Hills stand-up show for the first time as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which was very much the Edinburgh Fringe with just the comedy.

I’ve always thought of Melbourne as second best to Sydney, now I’m not so sure. In 10 days time I’ll be able to compare afresh. Before that, it’s time for a doubling of temperature, a huge increase in humidity and five days in the outback. More of that to come…..

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