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Glilla Bear (Isle of Wight, UK)

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Puccini - Manon Lescaut (Metropolitan Opera) [DVD] [2008]
Puccini - Manon Lescaut (Metropolitan Opera) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Karita Mattila
Price: £11.06

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This performance opened my eyes to a score I've never reckoned, 17 July 2012
I have never been won over by "Manon Lescaut", but the sheer drama of this performance made me sit up. Mattila sings wonderfully, and the production is sumptuous. I still think the libretto is , let's say, on the unbelievable side, but with a performance as tight as this, wonderfully conducted by Levine, I simply cannot now resist this opera.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2014 12:45 PM BST


You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger [DVD] [2010]
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts
Price: £6.86

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never liked Woody Allen - liked this one though!, 14 July 2012
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I have never been a Woody Allen fan, but this film is really funny. Classic situation comedy, every role well filled. If you recognise someone you know (yourself?!)among the hapless protagonists, don't be surprised: fate will have its way no matter how hard we try to fashion things and no matter how skilful, resourceful or successful we think we are. We are all just pawns in the big game....


The King's Pleasure
The King's Pleasure
by Norah Lofts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.36

5.0 out of 5 stars A touching account of Catherine's tragic life, 9 July 2012
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This review is from: The King's Pleasure (Paperback)
Yes, 'The King's Pleasure' - and mine! This a beautifully related account of the tragic life of Catherine of Aragon (never quite sure why her name is spelt with a K, since her proper (Spanish) name was Catalina.) The account of the saintly Queen's death at the end of the book is most poignant. Henry is depicted not as an all-out villain, but rather as a little boy who has never grown up. What a tantrum he would have to witness the word 'Queen' on her tomb in Peterborough Cathedral - also, incidentally, the original burial place of Mary, Queen of Scots. On this showing I shall be reading all of Norah Lofts' novels. Once you have overcome the jolt of American spelling, the book will hold you in its thrall until the final page. More pesky 'GCSE' style questions ate the end for those who want discussion topics for their book clubs. A 'must' for any admirer of Catherine's who wants a thoroughly-researched and compassionate account of her life, written in the third person.


Donizetti: Don Pasquale [DVD] [2011] [US Import] [NTSC]
Donizetti: Don Pasquale [DVD] [2011] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Donizetti
Price: £13.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly disappointing - except for the conducting and the orchestral playing, 7 July 2012
I confess that I found the overall effect of this performance disappointing. Of the singers, only Matthew Polenzani charmed me. Netrebko and Kwiecien seem not to know that bel canto means 'beautiful' singing. They shout their way through a lot of the score's most charming and melodic scenes. James Levine does indeed smile a lot - he is enjoying himself. What's wrong with that - this is a comedy, and comedic charm tends to bring on a smile. The orchestral contribution is beyond reproach. An earlier reviewer mentioned Glyndebourne's 2011 touring performance: I didn't much like that either: it was a half-hearted affair. We await an ideal dvd version of this delightful opera.


Ivor Novello Songs
Ivor Novello Songs
Price: £5.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Who could sing them better?, 1 July 2012
This review is from: Ivor Novello Songs (Audio CD)
If you want a CD of Ivor Novello songs with orchestral accompaniment, then this must be for you! I found myself asking whether a 'more sophisticated' soprano could do the songs more justice, and the answer came emphatically 'No!' This is just superb tear-jerking nostalgia. If you don't find yourself singing along, well, you must be heartless. Recordings are bright, the voice fairly forward. It's great stuff!


Tell No One
Tell No One
Price: £3.95

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good start - pity about the rest!, 12 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Tell No One (Kindle Edition)
This looked as if it was going to be a good story. In fact, it was anything but. The author has an irritating way of introducing a new character, linking him to one earlier introduced, then unsubtly making him (the new character) a guilty party to whatever has preceded his entrance. If you are into guessing 'whodunnit' in crime novels, then this will render your efforts pretty fruitless. As for the writing - the addressing in a familiar, vernacular way by the author of the reader - well, if you like that kind of thing, you are very welcome to it. There are also scenes of gratuitous violence. A 'novel' to avoid, I think.


The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana La Loca
The Last Queen: A Novel of Juana La Loca
by C. W. Gortner
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, with, inevitably, a disappointing conclusion, 22 May 2012
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I really enjoyed this novel. Juana comes across as a vibrant, tragic figure, betrayed by (almost) everyone. Gortner keeps the pace up right until the end, when he (as he puts it)"encapsulates time". The writing, the craftsmanship is mostly pretty knockabout, but as a raconteur, Gortner is undoubtedly a real star. There are errors (eg Juana is given a pregnancy lasting around 16 months), but they count for little. I am presuming that the Spanish is immaculate; the French certainly is not - but it's quite funny. The difficulty that besets writers of historical fiction is that good stories don't always turn out to have good endings, yet the writer is bound by their historical endings; not to be so bound would be to write something other than historical fiction. This is the real problem with this novel. I'll certainly be reading more by Gortner, however. Finally, I'd be interested to know what route would be followed to travel by ship from Laredo to Vienna.


Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005]
Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005]
Dvd ~ Lisbeth Balslev
Price: £13.66

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning production, ringing true in every respect, 3 May 2012
This Bayreuth 1985 production, artistically overseen by the fiercely traditionalistic Wolfgang Wagner (the composer's grandson)is a magnificent achievement. The singing from every one of the principal cast is superlative, singling out Matti Salminen for special praise since other reviewers seem to have overlooked him. The orchestral playing is exceptional, though some of the tempi perhaps a little brisk (at least to this Klemperer-prone ear!)The idea of the prow-planks of the Dutchman's ship doubling as an opening pair of hands from which the Dutchman emerges is quite splendid; indeed the whole production is opulent as well as being imaginative. I have no doubt that this is a must-have 'Dutchman' , though it is a pity that Segerstam's has recently disappeared from the catalogue.


Sister
Sister
by Rosamund Lupton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped by the baa-baa critics, but an ingenious first novel nevertheless, 24 April 2012
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This review is from: Sister (Paperback)
The cover of this book, as of so many paperbacks these days, reminds me of the Ira Gershwin lyric 'Blah blah blah', parodying the content of love songs: 'Merry merry month of May, Neath clouds of grey, blah blah blah, Cottage for two, blah blah blah, Darling with you, blah blah blah'. Pick and mix from the following words and phrases: 'absurdly entertaining', blah blah blah, 'devastatingly good', blah blah blah, 'adrenaline rush', blah blah blah, 'that rare place where', blah, 'compelling', viscerally affecting' 'insanely gripping' 'stylish', blah blah, 'emotional punch' blah blah etc. This is a good read (blah), but not as good as the critics make out. The use of the second person narrative is more than Ms Lupton can cope with (Pushkin and Henry James found it hard enough, and Ms Lupton is no Henry James!). For a writer who read English literature at Cambridge the mixing and remixing of metaphors is sometimes tedious. Yet Beatrice is a real character, as is Dr Nichols, and (ironically) Mr Wright. I am pretty poor, usually, at guessing 'whodunnits', but I guessed this one. The examination-type questions at the end annoyed me. (Yes, I know they're supposed to be for Reading Groups, but do give it a rest...). A good story, then, gripping - yes, I hate to say it, 'compelling' in places (Beatrice's early conversations with Dr Nichols spring to mind) and impressive for a first novel; but although Ms Lupton's second essay 'Afterwards' will go on my 'novels to read' list, it won't come near the top.


Rossini: La Cenerentola
Rossini: La Cenerentola
Price: £8.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carries all before it!, 1 April 2012
This review is from: Rossini: La Cenerentola (Audio CD)
This recently (and justly) re-issued set is a real winner. Valentini-Terrani (what a mezzo she was) is in wonderful voice as Cinderella, and Araiza is simply phenomenal, especially in the high tenor register. How much more easily (and how much more beautifully) he achieves those high notes in Act 2 than today's so-called "bel canto specialists" with their metallic timbre. The recording is as fresh as can be, and Gabriele Ferro, renowned in the bel canto repertoire, again shows us how wonderful Rossini's music can sound. He is often so much more than the 'scribbler' Beethoven accused him of being, and the support his orchestral score offers to his singers is sometimes up there with Donizetti, so admired for this quality by such as Dame Janet Baker.


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