Master Class – Tyne Daly does Callas

Earlier in the week, I dropped in on Master Class at the Vaudeville Theatre, the start of a run through to April.  Tyne Daly takes on Maria Callas, alternately developing and humiliating three students for the pleasure of an audience and it was my first encounter with the play.

I hadn’t expected it to be so out-and-out comedic at the beginning, but it darkens as it develops.  There are some great one-liners dotted through it, and each anecdote gets brought up short with a ‘But that’s another story. This isn’t about me.’  The staging is effective, directed by experienced opera director Stephen Wadsworth.  I do suspect that the transitions from the master class setting to the more intimate ‘flashback’ confrontations with her husbands, each time in a theatre setting and with Callas giving us both roles in the dialogue, would confuse some who weren’t so ‘up’ on her life story. (more…)

Bette, Joan and a lot of slap

In brief: Just had the pleasure of Bette and Joan, a new play by Anton Burge, just finishing previews at the Arts Theatre, on Great Newport Street in Soho.  Not going to change the world, but enough content to be interesting, and some well-timed lines and solid performances which manage to avoid grotesque pastiche. (more…)

Might I detain you for a moment, for a short rave…?

Away from the operatic mainstream of this blog, I want to put in a very good word or two indeed for a ‘straight’ play.  [Aside: If plays are ‘straight’, what does that make opera?  Anyway, moving on…]

The Theatre Royal, Bath, production of The Rivals, by Sheridan, has arrived at its namesake in The Haymarket.   (more…)

Catching up (again)…

Yes, yes, I know… this is becoming a habit.  Another roundup of several things at once because I haven’t got around to writing anything about them sooner.  So, today we have:  Felicity Lott at the Hampstead & Highgate Festival; The Barber of Salisbury; and a quick reference to the (non-musical) Yes, Prime Minister (for the sake of getting it off my chest). (more…)

Another roundup

Have been a bit tardy in committing thoughts to keyboard.  So, recently:  Kat’a Kabanova; Fascinating Aida; Sweet Nothings.  Reasonably varied, n’est ce pas?

Kat’a:  brilliant performances, especially Patricia Racette as an assured but tortured Kat’a; well-paced; production lost some of its power through overdoing the caricature of Kabanicha and leaving too much draughty, empty space; from dress circle side, words were much more audible than usual at ENO.  A brilliant evening, all in all.

Fascinating Aida:  fabulously filthy in parts; touching in others; cleverly satirical throughout; overall enjoyment just the same as the last two times I saw that show

Sweet Nothings:  appallingly banal and irritating first act full of characters about which I couldn’t have cared less; more mature and interesting second act with a bit more development and interaction; clever production; tireless performances.

Sondheim on Saturday, hooray…  and thank God for bank holiday weekends…