The astonishing moral cowardice of

“Jews masquerade as goody two-shoed innocent victims, but they’re actually a race of selfish deceivers behind closed doors. All serial killers are Jewish. Killing/executing the Jews is the only solution.”

Shocked? Disgusted? Me too. The deranged barbarity of the language in which the Nazis dressed their efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe has not lost its power to horrify. Continue reading “The astonishing moral cowardice of”

It’s not too late for Simon Cowell’s latest victim

(Published at The Telegraph’s blogs website on April 6th, 2012)


As Sir Thomas Beecham once said, you should try everything once, except incest, Morris dancing and an evening in with Britain’s Got Talent. OK, perhaps he didn’t put it quite like that, but I like to think that, were he around today, he wouldn’t think twice about adding ITV’s weekly extravaganza of exploitation and mediocrity to his list of exclusions.  As the premier showcase and facilitator for the nation’s indecent obsession with getting on the telly and becoming famous for failing to do anything remotely noteworthy, it has elevated tackiness to an art form.

Continue reading “It’s not too late for Simon Cowell’s latest victim”

ETO’s new Barber cuts it in Hackney

English Touring Opera’s production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, which opened at the Hackney Empire on Thursday night, is, at first glance, a highly conventional affair. Set firmly in Beaumarchais’ late 1700s, with contemporary sets and costumes, and eschewing any extraneous business, it is a straightforward narrative of young love’s triumph over elderly Machiavellian scheming. If you think that sounds a little worthy and just a bit dull then think again, for this is a show that grabs the audience’s attention and holds onto it from start to finish, so accomplished is it in its wit and invention.

My full review is at Opera Britannia

Interview: Thomas Guthrie

English Touring’s new production of The Barber of Seville opens on 8th March at the Hackney Empire. It is directed by Thomas Guthrie, whose second production this is for the company following his well-received Fairy Queen last year. A former ROH Young Artist, he may be unique in that he enjoys successful parallel careers as both a singer and a director. Acknowledging that he was not originally enamoured with Rossini’s opera buffa, considering it to be a piece of froth often weighed down with extraneous business, his opinion changed when he had the opportunity to work on the Royal Opera House’s current staging. He worked alongside the production’s creators, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, during its original run, and subsequently assistant directed a revival.

The full interview is at Opera Britannia

Classy Figaro at the ROH compromised by casting changes

If the curate wonders what has become of his much travelled egg, he could have located it last Saturday evening at the Royal Opera House, where it was masquerading as a performance that had much to commend it but was ultimately undone by some unbalanced casting.

David McVicar’s 2006 staging (placing the action amid the revolutionary turmoil of 1830s Europe) remains a thing of beauty. With Tanya McCallin’s gorgeous designs and Paule Constable’s at times magical lighting (the transition from sunset to Rembrandtesque candle light at the end of Act III is a genuine coup de théâtre) he has created a production that is well on the way to attaining iconic status.

My full review is at Opera Britannia

When is a book not a book?

A couple of months ago, our youngest daughter was informed by her school that she had been awarded a prize in recognition of her achievements during the previous academic year. It would take the form of a book to be presented to her at the forthcoming annual prizegiving evening. In keeping with the increasingly DIY nature of state education these days, she was handed a National Book Tokens gift card (with a face value insufficient to purchase anything worthy of the occasion unless parentally augmented), and told to go and buy her own book. This was to be handed in prior to the ceremony so that somebody could write an uplifting sentence or two in it, thus creating the appearance that the school had done all the hard work.

Continue reading “When is a book not a book?”