The Marriage of Figaro (1786): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro


(Royal Opera House, via Vue Cinemas, 5 October 2015)

About a month ago I had a spate of ‘firsts’: my first Macbeth, in the striking film version and then, just a couple of days later, my first Figaro, thanks to the Royal Opera House’s excellent live cinema broadcasts. Heloise has been urging me to watch Figaro ever since I first expressed a cautious interest in opera about a year and a half ago. She can feel herself vindicated at last. Of course I would have loved to see the show in person, but thrift is of the essence and so I plumped for the cinema, and three hours of stunning close-ups and lush, intoxicating detail.

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Coriolanus (1605/8): William Shakespeare

Coriolanus: Donmar Warehouse


(Donmar Warehouse, 2013, directed by Josie Rourke)

During the Donmar Warehouse’s run of Coriolanus, tickets were so scarce that people camped outside in sleeping bags in the hope of getting a day ticket for the show. Interviewing the director Josie Rourke, just before a live broadcast of the play, Emma Freud asked what could account for this surge of popular interest. Somewhat disingenuously, Rourke enthused about the modern parallels to be found in this story. It’s a tale about the power of public opinion, in which a great soldier is brought down by his failure to transition to the hand-pressing, baby-kissing world of popular politics. She suggested that the play spoke to modern sensibilities. It’s about an era of austerity, about class divisions between the people and those who rule them, and about the fact that the people notionally have a voice but realistically don’t feel they have any power to change their government.

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