Antonia Landi

American Lulu

In Edinburgh, Opera, Performing Arts, Review on August 31, 2013 at 10:10 am

Photo: Anja Köhler

It is difficult to credit anyone in particular for the birth of this operatic piece. Just like Lulu herself, this opera has many facets. Olga Neuwirth would be the most obvious one to credit, as she did most of the re-writing and re-orchestrating of Berg’s Lulu. But Berg himself took his inspiration from Wedekind’s play of the same name. So here we have a twenty-first century opera, based on another opera, based on a play. And somehow, it all works.

Taking place throughout the 1950s –70s the audience follows Lulu’s tragic life story. Injected with a hefty dose of modernity, Neuwirth deliberately chose to centre her opera on the civil rights movement and the African American community in the United States, which makes American Lulu full of subtle, yet powerful political statements. The mise-en-scène simply works, just as the choice of audio and video material helps to seamlessly transition from one scene to another.

Angel Blue makes a wonderful Lulu with great singing talent, although unfortunately she has a tendency to swallow the last syllable of some words. Jacqui Dankworth as Eleanor is an excellent match for Lulu’s strong voice, and a soothing voice of reason after Lulu’s rollercoaster of emotions. The lack of supertitles for the dialogues is a pity, and would certainly be appreciated by audience.

On the whole, Neuwirth’s take on Lulu is very successful, both in its orchestration and modernisation. The world of music needs more people like her: People who can be smart about making a statement and do so in a wonderfully engaging way.

★★★★★

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

Don Quichotte du Trocadéro

In Dance, Edinburgh, Festival Theatre, Performing Arts, Review, Theatre on August 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Whoever thought that catapulting a nearly 150-year-old ballet into the present day by means of contemporary dance would make it any less puzzling to us, was wrong.

While José Montalvo’s radical re-interpretation of Petipa’s 1869 ballet Don Quixote certainly feels closer to our present day, it nevertheless offers a strange amalgamation of everyday comedy, century-old allegories and complex dance routines.

If street dance is your thing, then you will greatly enjoy this show. Thanks to Montalvo’s project it is possible to see both classical music and street dance in a completely new light. Accompanied by video and sometimes even singing, Don Quichotte du Trocadéro feels new and alive. The cast of excellent dancers really make this show what it is, although their rather complex dance moves unfortunately seemed, to me at least, to be slightly out of time more often than not. Understandably, the dancers were most comfortable when they were allowed to be in their own element, with one exception: Lead dancer Sandra Mercky showed her talents time and again, delighting the audience with exceptionally executed ballet moves as well as fierce hip hop and street dance.

Among other highlights were Patrice Thibaud in the role of Don Quixote, whose effortless comedy tied the whole show together, and flamenco dancer Sharon Sultan, whose passionate and ardent performance took the energy of this show to a whole new level.

Montalvo’s take on Don Quichotte du Trocadéro offers a night full of unique performances and fun – and lots and lots of street dance.

 

★★★★

 

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

Bang on a Can All-Stars

In Edinburgh, Music, Performing Arts, Review on August 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

One thing is certain: After you’ve seen and heard Bang on a Can All-Stars, listening to the world will never be the same again. Taking music and its meaning to entirely new and exciting levels, the All Stars ensemble comprises six of the most talented and innovative musicians alive today. Combining unique compositions with both audio and video recordings, the group constantly pushes the boundaries of music, how we interpret it, and where it can be found.

Seeing the ensemble play live is much like what I imagine hearing music for the first time must be like. Even, or maybe especially, to practiced ears, Bang on a Can offers an entirely new musical experience. From cat-cameras to airport noise, no matter how absurd the pieces and settings seem at first, it is nearly impossible not to tap your foot to them. Bang on a Can successfully do what many musicians can’t: They make music entirely new, and completely exhilarating.

To say that these musicians are innovators would be a severe understatement. They take the concept of music and all its meanings up until the present, and turn them upside down and inside out. The word ‘avant garde’ barely scratches the surface of this ensemble. A truer and more encompassing performance of the world would be hard to find. And within this, lies the future of music.

 

★★★★★

 

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

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