Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh’

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
Until 25 Aug

Antonia Landi for Edfestmag

5 Minutes with Jason Webley

In Edinburgh, Entertainment, Music, Performing Arts on September 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm


He’s loud, he’s talented, he’s away. For those of you who have missed him at the Fringe, you’re going to have to wait quite some time for your next chance. 11.11.2011 will be the date of his last gig and after that it’s some well-deserved alone time for this Seattle based accordionist. So before he takes a break, Jason decided to re-visit every country he’s played in before and more. Appearing in Edinburgh both as a solo act and as one half of the Siamese twin duo EvelynEvelyn, Jason rarely travels alone. With the likes of Amanda Palmer and Sxip Shirley in tow, you’ll always be guaranteed a unique experience at his gigs. Here he talks about his first Fringe and the future.

Tell me about your first time at the Fringe. Were you here as a spectator or as an artist? What were your first impressions?

This was my first time at the Fringe, and sadly I didn’t get to get out much… I was jetlagged and busy. But it was lovely to spend some time in such a beautiful place and see a lot of friends.

Do you feel any differently about it now? Has anything changed for you?

Before I ever came I always thought to avoid Edinburgh during the Fringe, that it would probably be a crazy rat race with so many people fighting for the attention of a limited audience. But in the end, I enjoyed the energy and think it could be nice to come back again.

Your music is very unique – not only because of the choice of instruments. How did you end up playing the accordion?

I was working on a play my last year of college, writing the music, and my father had bought an accordion at a garage sale. For the end of the play, I wrote a few songs using the accordion.

You are on an Europe-wide tour right now. What will happen after this?

A little tour of big shows with my band in the US and then a big show in Seattle and then a big break.

Tell me about the 11th November.

The 11th of November is a lot of things… it was Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday. It was the end of World War I. It is the date of my last concert this year.

Where will you be in two years?

Where will you be in five?

I honestly don’t know.

Did you manage to catch any shows during the festival? Did you see anything memorable?

I was bad. As I said, I didn’t really get out at all. I just went to one of Neil Gaiman’s talks. I wanted to see more but everything conflicted with my shows.

EvelynEvelyn – how did this happen?

I was doing this project, writing songs with a bunch of musician friends for a series of little records. I approached Amanda and we enjoyed writing together so much that it we decided to do a full album and a stage show as well.

What was the last song you wrote about?

Probably the last song I finished was my silly song about the solstice.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

Meet the Creative Martyrs

In Entertainment, Music, Performing Arts on May 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Meet the Creative Martyrs. Picture: Caroline Zak

The Creative Martyrs are a brechtian-style cabaret duo that sing and mime, and sometimes speak. Their aim is to entertain the masses by throwing social commentary around the room, neatly wrapped in songs, and at this they are true masters. From children’s cabaret to hosting the most prestigious cabaret nights in Scotland, the Creative Martyrs can be funny when needed, but it is their uniquely sarcastic songs that really make the duo exceptional. Armed with only a cello, a ukulele and their voices, The Creative Martyrs infuse the old art of cabaret with a never before seen modernity and relevance while still remaining true to their profession.

If there has ever been an act that must be seen by everybody, this is it.

Who are the Creative Martyrs?

Gustav Martyr: The Creative Martyrs have been performing cabaret and vaudeville around the world in venues everywhere for the last 128 years. We perform a variety of different acts and play with the fears in society we find on the way.

How were the Creative Martyrs born?

Jacob Martyr: We do not know.

G: One would presume in the normal manner.

J: We appeared just one day, somehow, somewhere, ready to perform.

If you had to describe your act in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

G: Mimed.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

J: The Creative Martyrs, we hear, are a very interesting act.

G: I have always longed to work and interact with one by the name of Gustav Martyr.

J: I by the name of Jacob Martyr.

Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

J: The Middle Distance.

G: Not too close.

J: Not too far away.

If you were to form a political party, what would you campaign for?

G: We have. We find that the best campaigning is done silently.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done on stage?

J: (long silence) There is too much to choose from.

What is more important, music or words?

G: I feel we would argue that the combination is inextricably linked, the partnership being unbroken wherever possible.

Tell me something unexpected.

G: Banana.

J: Grrrun.

What does this country need?

J: (pointing to themselves) Modesty does not permit us to say.

What are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

J: Time.

Do you have anything planned for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

J: Last year we brought a show to the festival called ‘Tales from a Cabaret’. We performed it because we felt that there were interesting comparisons between the world of today and the world of the past. We feel that it is so important that we are returning once more with ‘Tales from a Cabaret’ although we will be developing and enhancing it. We feel that what ‘Tales from a Cabaret’ demonstrates to people is just as important, if not more so, this year than it was the last.


J: Because of various situations. We do not wish to say that history repeats itself in a definitive way, of course, it is not as simple as that, but there are situations involving economics, politics and people. The way things may or may not go, we feel it is important to at least comment.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

One day exhibition brings Orkney Venus to Edinburgh

In Arts and History, Edinburgh on November 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

The Orkney Venus is set to visit Edinburgh this Monday. Picture: BBC

A one day exhibition is taking place this Monday in Edinburgh, giving the public the chance to engage with Scotland’s cultural and historical heritage. The exhibition, entitled ‘My Home, My Place, My Scotland’, will showcase exhibits from The National Trust, Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Architecture and Design Scotland and will bring Scotland’s oldest known representation of a human form, the Orkney Venus, to the capital.


The event, initiated by the minister of culture for Scotland Fiona Hyslop, is free and will offer a range of activities and exhibitions. The star of the exhibition will be the Orkney Venus, which Historic Scotland calls “one of the most significant finds in Scottish archaeology”. The figure, which was found last summer on the island of Westray, has already been seen by over 100000 people. Iona Matheson from Historic Scotland said: “[The exhibition] covers the whole spectrum of activities; we’ve got live stonemasonry demonstrations happening in the courtyard of the [Roxburghe] hotel, [as well as] costumed performers: we’ve got redcoats from the jacobite exhibition at the Scottish parliament there, and there will also be junior guides in costumes giving a presentation of the kind of work they’ve done.”

Matheson added: “The key thing for the minister was [to create] an opportunity to target people in Scotland and make them connect with their culture.”


Besides showcasing Scotland’s heritage, the exhibition will focus on the economic value it holds for Scotland, and give the public the opportunity to see all the developments over the last few years across the historical and cultural sector. When asked if the Scottish public knows enough about its cultural heritage, Matheson replies: “It probably varies from community to community. I think they do appreciate it, but I think sometimes they are not aware of the whole breadth of activities that’s out there for them to be enjoyed in front of their doorstep.” My Home, My Place, My Scotland will not only offer a range of activities for the whole family, it will also give the public the opportunity to see ‘behind the scenes’ of historical and cultural preservation.


Useful links:

Historic Scotland

The Orkney Venus

Popularity of the paranormal is on the rise as Mary King’s Close offers first overnight event

In Edinburgh, Tourism on October 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

The entrance to Mary King's Close. Picture:

Tonight, arguably one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh will host its first public overnight event. From 11.30pm until 5.00am a group of people will spend the night in Mary King’s Close in search of paranormal activity. At £70 per person the event has proven to be popular, as tickets sold out within two weeks.

The Real Mary King’s Close visitor attraction is renowned for its ghostly past and has regularly featured in shows such at ‘Most Haunted’ and ‘Ghost Hunters International’. The paranormal has fascinated people for centuries, and TV series like ‘The X Files’ have proven that it holds an incredible entertainment factor. With more and more ghostly films and TV shows being immensely popular (e.g. the film ‘Paranormal Activity’ cashed in over £3.5m on the opening weekend in the UK, only topped by the sequel which was released just over a week ago), the public interest in the paranormal has risen to a new high.

Nigel Hosier, general manager of the Close, explains: “The whole [paranormal] market has been growing over the last 10 years. I argue it’s probably peaking about now”. He says that the fact that the Close has been featured on several shows investigating its paranormal potential gives the site an “authenticity and credibility”.

When asked why they decided to offer an event of this sort now, Mr Hosier explains that they have been experimenting with a few private groups in the past year and now felt confident enough to offer tickets to the public. However, The Real Mary King’s Close will not be transformed into a practice site for wannabe ghost hunters.

“We don’t want to get away from our core product, which is a historical but entertaining tour”. Hosier says. He also mentions the financial pressure on organisations such as the National Trust of Scotland and argues that events of this kind might catch on with other attractions in the future, if proven to be popular.

Mary King’s Close has recently been nominated for a Scottish Thistle award in the Heritage Experience category, which, if won, would make its award count go up to three.

Useful links:

The Real Mary King’s Close website

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