Theatre Royal, GlasgowIts three central performers make this latest revival of a 40-year-old production feel vital and engaging.. Scottish Opera’s venerable production of Tosca belongs to a different era of opera staging, when faithful recreation of scene was more the order of the day, rather than radical reinterpretation. That said, Anthony Besch’s production, here receiving its umpteenth revival in four decades, has aged remarkably well. Peter Rice’s hyper-realistic sets, which bring the opulence of church/palace/fortress to the stage in loving detail, still look splendid, and if Besch’s decision to update the action to fascist-era 1940s Italy doesn’t seem as radical now as it did 40 years ago, then it is still a choice with something to say about the nature of power and corruption. If there is a drawback to such an opulent, old-fashioned staging it is the risk it encourages “stand-and-deliver” performances. This was somewhat apparent in the opening night of this production, particularly in the first act, which felt rather static. Gwyn Hughes Jones delivering Cavaradossi’s aria as an old-school set piece wasn’t a problem; however the ensuing violence, particularly when Roland Wood’s Scarpia and his police thugs hassle Paul Carey Jones’s Sacristan, was not believably threatening. And for all its pomp and splendour, Swiss Guards, Cardinals and even a cameo appearance from Il Duce himself, the first-act climax, where Scarpia’s secular moment of triumph is juxtaposed with the religious celebrations, didn’t entirely come off. There was the feeling of the performers finding their way as the menace and drama of the subsequent acts came across as vital and engaging. But for all the sumptuous visuals of the production, this opera succeeds or fails on the strength its three central performers. Scottish Opera has assembled an impressive cast headed by Natalya Romaniw. She was an expressive Tosca, petty and coquettish, vulnerable and vengeful by turn and vocally utterly secure. There was a hint of the pantomime villain to Wood’s splendidly oily, malevolent Scarpia, literally sniffing the air as if aroused by Tosca’s disdain. As Cavaradossi, Hughes Jones came into his own in the final act, his farewell impassioned and noble. Underpinning it all was the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and conductor Stuart Stratford who gave a lithe, responsive reading of Puccini’s score. . At Theatre Royal, Glasgow, until 26 October. Then touring until 23 November.
The former MP appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss Operation Midland and the impact it had had on his life.
Overhead, four members of Argentina’s Fuerza Bruta circus theatre grapple on a spinning globe hanging from the ceiling to the sound of dance beats dropped by Napoleonic DJs. In a neighbouring arena, gamers queue to play sci-fi VR team games or life-sized human Pac-Man. Over in NAVE, an Olympic velodrome repurposed as the world’s largest projection screen, festival-goers bounce on trampolines beneath gigantic hanging rocks, engulfed in video-mapped images of floods and sandstorms as part of Natura’s incredible multimedia statement on climate change.At Rock in Rio 2019, the sideshows threaten to upstage the superstars. Out in this spectacular blitz on the senses, constructed in a ring around Rio De Janeiro’s Olympic Park, Rock Street pounds to the sound of local bands recreating classic hits from the festival’s history and the Favela Space hosts musicians and DJs from the city’s famous slum districts on a stage itself designed as a cartoonish favela. A small village, complete with bar and wedding chapel, has been constructed at Route 85 and punters scream around the 360-degree loop of the festival’s especially built rollercoaster. It takes a world-beating line-up to compete: this year Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Muse, P!nk, Drake, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Iron Maiden headlined Rock In Rio’s seven days to a combined audience of 700,000. Each act gasps at the sight of zip-wire riders speeding over the main stage crowd and each is followed by a gigantic firework display to put any Chinese New Year to shame. If there’s a bigger show on the planet (outside Glastonbury anyway), I’ve yet to come across it.
(Chandos)The BBCSO and Sakari Oramo give Smyth’s era-defying mass the grand recording it deserves, alongside the overture to her opera The Wreckers. Here’s Sakari Oramo filling in another gap in the British repertoire, one that you probably didn’t even know was there. Depending on your favourite story about her, Ethel Smyth is the brick-throwing suffragette conducting her fellow Holloway inmates with a toothbrush, or the bisexual society lady sketched by John Singer Sargent, or the rebellious young woman who defied her father to study composition at the Leipzig Conservatory but who dropped out because she didn’t think the teaching was up to much. Her Mass in D, premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 1893 but almost absent from the choral society conveyor belt since, is as grand in scope as one might expect from such a woman. It’s gratifying to find it getting the kind of recording it deserves from forces who can do justice to its ambition. Smyth later said that writing the mass “sweated out” any thoughts she was harbouring of converting to Catholicism, and the atmosphere is operatic rather than devout – and so on this disc the stirring, seaswept overture to The Wreckers, her best-known opera, makes for an excellent prelude. In the mass itself, Oramo follows Smyth’s request to place the exuberant Gloria at the end, so it sounds structured for the concert hall rather than the cathedral. The opening Kyrie sets a scene full of tension, with music serious enough to be asking mercy for any amount of sin; but there’s a hint of consolation towards the end of the movement, and the Credo bursts on in an eruption of joy – the most striking of several dramatic plays of light and shade. The four vocal soloists are a little far back in the mix, and there are fleeting moments when one wants more fullness of tone from the two men, but the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are on excellent, sumptuous form, and this recording should win the mass many new fans. Also out this month There are more discoveries to be had, on a smaller scale, in Her Voice, the Neave Trio’s album of distinctive and distinguished chamber works by Louise Farrenc, Amy Beach and Rebecca Clarke. But for sheer enjoyment, try the folk-classical group Kottos’s new release Songs & Dances, in which they take pieces by composers including Bartók, Vaughan Williams and Vivaldi and reimagine them for a quartet of accordion, bouzouki, recorder and lyrical cello. It’s all effortlessly musical, and somehow gets to the heart of everything in joyous fashion.
The online store, called Gross Domestic Product, allows art fans to register to buy some of Banksy's most famous works.