Come Wallow With Me.
The only word is wallowing. That’s what I’ve been doing this week. With so much to watch and hear on the internet I’ve been wallowing in all the events I mentioned to you last week. I was unable to tear myself away from the Met Opera gala (if you’re quick you can still catch it on YouTube) where every opera singer you’ve ever loved sang his/her, and your, favourite aria. I sat here for four hours without even a cup of tea, so unwilling was I to miss a single note. The following evening, there was Romeo and Juliet, the revisionist version by Matthew Bourne with a cast of improbably young and talented dancers. By the way, his dance version of Carmen, The Car Man, will be shown on Sky Arts on May 3rd. Then there were three hours of Take Me to The World, Sondheim’s 90th birthday, with every American stage star who’s ever sung a Sondheim song singing it again. I’ve heard full-length operas and ballets, concerts, classical and jazz, lots of short features, and the kind of cabaret stars that cost real money if you can even get into their venues.
The job I’ve set myself is to bring you the best of the entertainment available free on the internet during these difficult times. I keep getting distracted, clicking on an event to make sure I’m giving you the correct link and then getting hooked by the event itself. It’s impossible, there’s so much that’s great I’m bound to miss something important. So, apologies in advance. But if you come across something I might not catch for next week, please email it to me.
We’ll Meet Again
Here is the tear-jerker of the week. If this doesn’t do you in you’ve been on the moon for the past four weeks of isolation and distancing. The tireless Domenic Ferris, probably best known as the piano-playing half of the comedy duo Ferris and Milnes, has put together the most affecting few minutes of the month. He and his partner have assembled, not together except in vocal terms, but in their own homes, every current West End musical star from Alfie Boe to Sharon D. Clarke to Maria Friedman to Hannah Waddington to Kerry Ellis to young Jonah Collier and many more to sing that most evocative of wartime anthems, We’ll Meet Again. If you thought this was the exclusive province of Dame Vera Lynn, you’d be right, Ferris has even persuaded her, now aged 103, to participate. Somehow her presence adds a kind of regal seal of approval on what is already the theme of our current, as well as our past war.
Frankenstein – National Theatre
The National Theatre is doing us proud, streaming both versions of their Frankenstein for comparison. When this production premiered it was impossible, unless you were made of money, to see both Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Frankenstein and his monster in the title role. They alternated every night and, not surprisingly, each of these fine actors has a completely different ‘take’ on the two roles. Now we can see both, one starting April 30, the other May 1.
Ravel’s Bolero - Orchestre Nacional de France
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj4pE_bgRQI (Ctrl and Click)
The technical achievement of somehow getting an entire orchestra to play the same piece at the same time while all its members and their conductor are in different physical spaces is amazing but when they play as well as this under such circumstances, that is wonderful to behold. To see the total concentration and engagement of each of these individual musicians with the music when they can’t see or hear one another is truly a gift to all of us.
The Winter’s Tale
https://www.roh.org.uk/streaming/the-winters-tale (Ctrland Click)
This is the full-length ballet, choreographed in 2014 By the Royal Ballet’s Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon and starring Sarah Lamb and Vadim Muntagirov. Based, but not too tightly, on Shakespeare’s play, it was a huge success when first produced but, for some odd reason, is rarely rescheduled by the Royal Ballet so this is an opportunity to see one of the finest modern classics of narrative ballet. It tells of jealousy, an abandoned child, and the destruction of a marriage. Truthfully, the ending doesn’t work dramatically but neither does Shakespeare’s, which is not a good reason to avoid it. I never believed that reconciliation stuff in the original and it doesn’t get any better in the ballet. Never mind, it’s a terrific ballet. The music is by Joby Talbot, and the designs by Bob Crowley. Wallow with me.
Readings from the Rose
https://www.rosetheatrekingston.org/news/readings-from-the-rose (Ctrl and Click)
This is a lovely idea, not original because a number of theatres are doing it, but the Rose Theatre Kingston has got some really wonderful actors to film themselves reading their favourite poems. The Rose is releasing them, one at a time, every day at 1pm. The actors, some of Britain’s best, include Adjoa Andoh, Angellica Bell, Anjana Vasan, Anton Lesser, Arthur Darvill, Christopher Eccleston, Hattie Morahan, Jane Asher, Louise Brealey, Niamh Cusack, Olivia Vinall, Paterson Joseph, Paul Higgins, Pippa Bennett-Warner and Stephen Boxer and, so far, the poets include A. A. Milne, A. E. Housman, Angela Morgan, Anna Kamienska, D. H. Lawrence, Hillaire Belloc, John Cooper Clarke, John Keats, Mark Halliday, Miroslav Holub, Paterson Joseph, W. B. Yeats and that ubiquitous William Shakespeare. The first one I saw was Angela Morgan’s In Spite of War, recited, simply and well, by Angellica Bell. If the others are in the same class, we’re lucky to have them.
The Swan Project
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE1enPDh3nM (Ctrl and Click)
In case you thought that today’s teenagers did nothing but complain and play video games, along comes this version of Saint-Saens Swan to prove you delightfully wrong. This is good for the soul, no matter how battered.
Ballet National de France
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kUhGCyDCZmI&feature=youtu.be (Ctrl and Click)
And perhaps the most unusual clip of the week. Don’t miss this one. Young bodies moving in space with a freedom only discipline can provide. This one blew me away.
I wish you happy wallowing.
Ruth Leon is a writer and critic specialising in music and theatre.