Antonia Landi

Archive for 2013|Yearly archive page

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

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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

Dido and Aeneas & Bluebeard’s Castle

In Edinburgh, Festival Theatre, Music, Opera, Performing Arts, Review on August 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Making an opera feel relevant to the present day and captivating to the audience is always a difficult task. Making an opera that is over three hundred years old relevant and captivating is nothing short of a masterpiece. Unfortunately, Oper Frankfurt did not quite succeed in this. Accompanied by a small ensemble with authentic instrumentation, Barrie Kosky’s take on Purcell’s Baroque opera Dido & Aeneas simply felt a bit too ridiculous at times. Unnecessary nudity and costumes that gave the feel of a fancy dress party all too often distracted from the story. Vocally, Paula Murrihy’s interpretation of Dido was exceptional and gripping, especially during the third act. The three witches were just as enticing, although sometimes overshadowed by their own acting.

Second in this double bill was Bela Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Unlike the interpretation of Dido & Aeneas, Oper Frankfurt did a splendid job of creating the ideal setting for Bartók’s music to shine. Minimalist both in the mise-en-scène and costumes, Bartók’s opulent music took centre stage. By using very few props and an absolutely blank stage, Kosky deliberately relied on the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps; a fitting decision considering Bluebeard’s Castle’s expressionist style.

Both Robert Hayward and Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, in the roles of Bluebeard and Judith respectively, impressed with their stellar vocal performances. Although some of the settings and acting needed further explanation, this was almost always done by dialogue, and is only a minor blemish in an otherwise captivating performance.

All in all, this unique double bill offered the audience to see opera in two completely different ways. Even though the interpretations were slightly disappointing at times, the evening nevertheless showcased some great operatic talent.

★★★★

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

Two is the Beginning of the End

In Edinburgh Fringe 2013, Theatre on August 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Let me be frank: if you think you know what you’re about to see based on the play’s summary, you’d be wrong. Described as a “fast-paced, brutally poignant coming of age story” the play is actually a lot more entertaining than it sounds. Two is the Beginning of the End is quite possibly the closest fiction can get to reality. Often blurring the lines between characters, actors, spectators and directors, the play is much like adolescence: short, energetic, awkward and nostalgic.

Intensely fast and captivating, the play combines the stories of eight guys and girls, all between the ages of eighteen and twenty. If you have ever been a teenager, the chances of you relating to at least one of the eight characters are very high. In fact, it is precisely the raw, honest and most of all real emotions that take this play beyond your average Fringe performance. Almost painfully current, it plays on the fears everyone had to deal with while growing up: What is my next step, who am I really and will it ever be the same again?

Two is the Beginning of the End is definitely a worthwhile way to spend your evening. Prepare yourself to experience adolescence all over again, from the depths of insecurities to the highs of and lows of love and partying.

★★★★★

 
Two is the Beginning of the End
Sweet Grassmarket
19.40
Until 25 Aug

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

How to make an Animal Crossing leaf cake – Better than Toast Extra

In Food on June 8, 2013 at 7:49 am
Picture: Antonia Landi

Picture: Antonia Landi

Hello my dears! How long has it been since my last video? Too long!

 

Here in Europe it’s still another long week until we can get our hands onto the new Animal Crossing game, so I thought I’d make a video to pass the time. And what would be better than an AC inspired leaf cake? An AC inspired toffee leaf cake!

 

The cake recipe I’m about to share with you is one of my favourites. It’s so easy to make, and so delicious. As you’ll see I use carnation caramel in my cake, which seems to pop up in my local supermarket at random intervals. I’m not sure how readily available this little tin of magic is, but fret not. Whenever I can’t find it, I simply get a tin of condensed milk, put its contents into an oven safe glass dish, and let it sit on a low to medium heat for about half an hour. Do check it quite often, as the condensed milk is prone to burning. If you’re unsure, simply cover the dish with some aluminium foil. You’ll know your oven best!

When the milk is a lovely light golden brown colour, take it out of the oven, let it cool completely (believe me, you do not want to burn yourself on this stuff) and remove any burnt bits you might find. Give it a stir and voilà: Your very own dulce de leche.

If you can’t find pre-coloured icing, you can get a white icing block and some green food colouring and make your own, like I’ve done in my previous recipes. Just be advised that it takes time and effort, usually makes a mess and is fiddly to work with. Since you’re adding extra liquid to the icing in the form of the food colouring, the icing will get softer. This means that you’ll have to store it in the fridge after dying it and rolling it out, so that it has time to firm up again. Work quickly and neatly, and you’ll be totally fine.

You can get the leaf template I used here. For reference, my cake tin is 8 inches in diameter and about 3.5 inches deep, and it works perfectly with the leaf I’ve included. If you have a smaller cake tin, simply re-size the image.

And now without further ado, here it is in all its glory: My delicious toffee cake recipe!

 

For the cake:

200g self-raising flour

200g soft brown sugar

200g unsalted butter

4 eggs

About 75g mini fudge pieces

3/4 can carnation caramel / dulce de leche (see above) (1 can is 397g)

 

For the crumb coat:

100g soft cheese

Rest of caramel

Icing sugar to taste

 

For the coating:

500g green icing

Patience!

 

Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs and the caramel, melt the butter and add it in small amounts while stirring constantly until everything is combined. Transfer to cake tin, sprinkle on the fudge pieces and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes (or until knife comes out clear) on a medium heat. Cool, trim, coat and put on the icing.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

 

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

If this is your first time baking a cake, have a look at my cake baking strategy guide. It contains useful tips and tricks for first-time bakers.

For some more information on dulce de leche and alternative ways to make it at home, check out this blog!

And finally, if you’re not yet excited about the latest Animal Crossing, have a look at the official website. I can’t wait!

Picky eaters are bad company

In Entertainment, Food, Opinion on March 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Picky eaters are like children - infuriating. Picture: Howard Dickins at flickr

Picky eaters are like children – infuriating.
Picture: Howard Dickins at flickr

If, like me, you happen to be of the culinary sort, chances are you like to share good food with your friends. A dinner party might be nice – some lovingly prepared food, a couple of glasses of wine, and happiness all round. Unless you’ve accidentally invited a fussy eater. All of a sudden, the evening that could’ve gone so well is replaced by ‘I’m not a big fan of that’-s and ‘I can make you something else if you like’-s and a stressed host trying to put together something the black sheep would eat out of the kitchen cupboard staples.

Now, I don’t care how or what someone eats as long as it happens in their own home. If they choose to be picky, let them be. But when a person tries to superimpose their absolutely ridiculous eating habits on someone else, I get a bit cranky. The fact that their diet differs from mine isn’t what this is about – I am quite happy catering for people with special diets due to allergies or personal beliefs, and see it as a test to my culinary abilities more than anything else. But I am in no way willing to support someone that thinks being ignorant about food is a good thing. And that’s really what pickiness is all about. I once had a flatmate who liked tomato-based pasta sauce, but had a phobia of ketchup and wouldn’t eat a raw tomato. She also considered it ‘rude’ to season any dish that was to be shared in case another person wouldn’t like it. To this day, I am lost for words.

I fully understand that there are some things that most people just don’t like. I myself wouldn’t go anywhere near black pudding, and I know that a lot of people feel the same way. But picky eaters are very unpredictable, which makes cooking for them a nightmare. Having to compromise taste in order to please the odd one out just plainly goes against everything I believe in. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Don’t pick at it with a fork until it’s cold, that’s just plain rude. The worst fear for a host is that people will not like the food, and it doesn’t matter how few or many people that entails, a virtually untouched plate is always a failure. But as if this wasn’t enough, picky eaters are almost always the most stubborn people you will meet. No matter how ridiculous their eating habits are, and no matter how well you know that if they’d just try it, they’d like it – trying to feed something new to a fussy eater is like making people drink poison. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll actually like it and then you’ll have to start adding spinach to your shopping list of monster munchies and cheese slices? But of course, a fussy eater is more worried about projectile vomiting at the dinner table.

Obviously.

From print to poetry

In Creative Writing on January 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

As some of you might know I have spent the last four years studying English Literature & Journalism. While we were always encouraged to maintain an online presence for our journalistic work, this was rarely the case in our creative writing classes. I used to put my essays online for other people to read, merely because they would usually start interesting debates about literature, but that ended when a first year student plagarised one of my essays and I was kindly asked to remove all of them.

Looking back at this blog I realise how long it has been since I have posted anything, which is a shame. Even though it might look like I haven’t written anything in a while, the opposite is actually the case. I am very near to completing my time at university, and for the last little while my focus has been on my studies. So much so that I never even thought to let you know of my other little project.

A little while ago I decided to put some of the creative work I have done over the years online – simply for sentimental value. After all, creating anything is hard work, and it is difficult not to want to show off your work once it has reached completion.

So, if you feel like your life lacks some mediocre poetry about cats and cities, loss and life, by any means feel free to drop by

Yours truly,

Antonia

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