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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: 48 years ago tonight, Thomas Schippers conducted the world premiere of Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra starring Justino Diaz and Leontyne Price in the starring roles. What was the occasion? Answer >>

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      The Devil Gets a Second Act

      "L'histoire du soldat" ("The Soldier's Tale") is a curiosity. It's theater. It's a musical composition. It's a work rich in orchestral color, but has only six players. With a unique ensemble of actors, dancers and instruments, it's been a one-of-a-kind for nearly 100 years – until now. more...

      A British Import: the BBC Proms

      They gave the world Monty Python and the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Leave it to the British to organize something as inexplicable and wonderful as the BBC Proms, with a subculture of devoted attendants, some of whom line up hours before a concert for a £5.00, standing-room-only ticket more...

      Impromptu with Ken Burns

      As a director who's covered everything from the Civil War, to baseball, to prohibition, to the national parks, Ken Burns is famous for making epic films about human endeavors – not so much for making biographies, although personal accounts are a hallmark of his storytelling style. His latest series is a biography, weaving together the stories of three people named Roosevelt more...

      Filmmaker Ken Burns to Visit WFMT

      Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns comes to WFMT on Tuesday, September 9 for a live conversation with Kerry Frumkin. Mr. Burns will be on-hand to talk about his latest release, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, which premiers on WTTW on Sunday. more...

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      Emma Thompson takes on role in Sweeney Todd musical in West End

      Actor to play piemaker Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim's work after Broadway run and after 25 years away from London stage

      Playing Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd on Broadway was the most terrifying experience of Emma Thompson's life, she revealed on Tuesday, so the actor's decision to reprise the role and return to the London stage for the first time in 25 years might seem a little surprising.

      She hopes to cope better this time. "As in no nausea, no actual nausea," she said. "If I can manage the fear without the nausea, I'll be really happy."

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      Rigoletto review a startlingly physical slant on Verdis tragic jester

      Royal Opera House, London
      There is powerful chemistry between Simon Keenlyside and Aleksandra Kurzak, though the operas dramatic and musical climaxes are not always in sympathy

      The Royal Operas latest revival of David McVicars production of Rigoletto primarily forms a vehicle for Simon Keenlyside, who plays Verdis tragic jester in a startling performance that is as much about physicality as it is about singing. Whirling around on crutches in the opening scene, he reminds us of Antony Shers Richard III. His gestures are obscene, and few Rigolettos have quite so forcefully brought home the fact that the loathing with which he satirises the Mantuan court is genuine rather than assumed.

      Face to face, however, with Aleksandra Kurzaks Gilda, he (as he tells us), turns into another man. His stoop is such that he is forced to gaze upwards into her face in their duets, and he does so with the sad wonder of a man whose much-loved daughter is a constant reminder of the dead wife he adored.

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      Nicolas Hodges review flashes of brilliance in a Birtwistle premiere

      Wigmore Hall, London
      Pianist Nicolas Hodges unveiled a mysterious set of Bach-inspired variations as part of Harrison Birtwistles on-going birthday bash

      Concerts to mark Harrison Birtwistles 80th birthday are set to continue to the end of the year. The latest was pianist Nicolas Hodges tribute, which included a premiere a followup to the piece Birtwistle wrote for him two years ago. But where Gigue Machine, the earlier work, is predominantly fast, extrovert and rhythmically propulsive, the new one, Variations from the Golden Mountain, is much more introspective and essentially a slow movement, though one with flashes of virtuoso brilliance.

      The title hints at the works starting point; the Golden Mountain is the Goldberg, and it was from Bachs monumental set of variations that Birtwistle got the idea of linking a series of short, self-contained episodes into a more substantial musical whole. Theres no apparent thematic link to Bach even the sense of Birtwistles work as a set of variations is hard to discern; if the musics precipitous changes of mood and manner have any historical antecedents they would seem to be in Beethovens late piano sonatas and final set of Bagatelles (Hodges emphasised that connection at the end of his recital by playing one of the Op 126 set as an encore).

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