Rapturous, languorous beauty: Lully’s Armide, Grimeborn

If you fancy being entertained like a French king, head to Grimeborn for Lully’s Armide. Lully’s artistic monopoly over French opera lasted well beyond his death (thanks to some dastardly patenting, as the excellent programme notes explain): he took full advantage of his pre-eminent position musically, as well as financially, creating opera for Louis XIV of rapturous,…

DIARY OF ONE WHO DISAPPEARED, Janáček, Grimeborn

The poems which inspired the mysterious song cycle Diary of One Who Disappeared first appeared anonymously published in a newspaper in May 1916. They immediately caught the eye of composer Leos Janáček, who completed this song cycle by 1920. The poems, eventually attributed to Ozef Kalda, tell the story of a young man who falls in love…

Blame game: Strauss’ Daphne at Grimeborn

Daphne comes from one of the most controversial (read: embarrassing) periods of Strauss’ life, when he continued to compose under the Nazi regime, rather than taking a principled stand (or moving away from Germany). For Strauss’ Daphne at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, director and conductor José Manuel Gandia took Strauss’ discomfiting collaboration as the starting point…

Tawdry goings on: Gala at Grimeborn

The topic of Ergo Phizmiz’s small opera Gala is Gala Dalí’s overwhelming passion for Jeff Fenholt, the original star of Jesus Christ Superstar, who was a ‘boy toy’ for Gala when she was 79 and he was 29. There’s a double geriatric sex scene (no fun to witness), and a bit of live rabbit-boiling thrown in for good…