Monday 29 October 2012

Swan Lake at The Royal Opera House

On Saturday 13th October 2012 I caught the early train from Norwich to London looking forward to a splendid day which included attending The Royal Ballet's matinee performance of Swan Lake at The Royal Opera House.

Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet which was premiered in 1877. Anthony Dowell's romantic interpretation returns the ballet to its 1895 origins by using the choreography of Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa.

In the castle grounds Benno von Somerstein and other friends of Prince Siegfried are waiting for his arrival to celebrate his coming of age. A feast begins when the Prince and his tutor Wolfgang appear. The Queen reminds the Prince that tomorrow he must formally choose his bride at the ball. When the party finishes the Prince tells Benno and Wolfgang that he wants to remain for a little longer on his own.

Prince Siegfried is magically drawn to the banks of the lake where a flock of white swans are swimming. One of the Swans tells the Prince that she is Princess Odette and that she and her companions have been bewitched by the Evil Genius who in the form of a huge black bird is constantly guarding them. By day the girls are fated to take the form of swans and only at night are they restored to their human form. The spell will be broken when a man falls in love with the Princess.

They dance for the Prince who is captivated by Odette and swears to save her from the magic of the Evil Genius. Odette warns him that the Evil Genius can only be overthrown when a man is prepared to sacrifice his life for love. The Prince invites Odette to the ball.

The Master of Ceremonies gives his final orders as people arrive for the ball. The Queen and Prince Siegfried greet their guests and the brides appear and dance for the Prince. He finds them all charming and beautiful but none to whom he can swear eternal love.

Fanfares announce the arrival of Von Rothbart and his daughter Odile who resembles Odette. The Prince becomes captivated by her. Odette tries to remind him of the Evil Genius and his dangerous magic but the Prince does not see her.

Convinced that Odile and Odette are the same girl Prince Siegfried chooses Odile as his bride. He suddenly sees Odette and realises that he has been deceived. Von Rothbart and Odile disappear leaving Odette destined to remain forever in the powers of the Evil Genius.

The Prince begs Odette to forgive him for his unwitting betrayal swearing his love. He is ready to sacrifice his life to defeat the Evil Genius and rushes into the waves carrying the tyrant bird with him. Both die in the cold waters of the mysterious lake leaving Odette grieving for her beloved Prince.

Brilliant performances from Marianela Nunez as Odette/Odile and Thiago Soares as Prince Siegfried made for a wonderful time in Covent Garden at The Royal Opera House as The Royal Ballet performed the magic of Swan Lake. Fantastic costumes showed the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns and shimmering fabrics designed by the work of Carl FabergĂ© created a magical setting. The Orchestra of The Royal Opera House conducted by Boris Gruzin combined with the outstanding dancing from The Royal Ballet made this the perfect afternoon in London.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Tap dancing along 42nd Street

I made my way to 42nd Street on the evening of Thursday 11th October 2012 as the magic of Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's tap dancing musical made it's way to Norwich Theatre Royal. With starring roles from Dave Willetts as Julian Marsh and Marti Webb as Dorothy Brock, this was a night of glamour no one wanted to miss. Jessica Punch played the role of Peggy Sawyer as we were taken to Broadway.

This musical is set in New York City and Philadelphia in 1933 telling the story of a humble, naive young actress named Peggy Sawyer who has come to audition for a new Broadway musical called Pretty Lady. Unfortunately, due to her nervousness, Peggy arrives to the audition late and misses her chance to join the chorus. Luckily, Peggy soon catches the eye of the famous director, Julian Marsh, and he gives Peggy her big break. However, the shows ageing leading lady, Dorothy Brock, quickly grows to dislike Peggy. On opening night, Ms. Brock falls and breaks her ankle. Panic spreads through the company, as the show is doomed for closure, until it is suggested that Peggy take the roll. In only thirty-six hours, Peggy learns twenty-five pages, six songs and ten dance numbers and becomes a star.

I loved the wonderful singing and dancing which made for a jolly good time with an uplifting feel good factor. 42nd Street is the ultimate backstage musical where dreams can come true. Peggy Sawyer grabbed the moment and became a big star. Brilliant songs like Keep Young and Beautiful, Lullaby of Broadway and I Only Have Eyes For You filled Norwich Theatre Royal. The tap dancing was a pleasure to watch and brought lots of fun to the production. My visit to 42nd Street was an awesome experience.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Hot Chip at Norwich UEA

On Monday 8th October 2012 I attended the Hot Chip gig at Norwich UEA with support from Disclosure the garage-house duo consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. After Disclosure got us in the mood for dancing we were all ready for the main event of the evening.

Hot Chip took to the stage with loud applause ringing around the UEA LCR. They put on a brilliant performance which included And I was a Boy From School, Over and Over and One Life Stand with an impressive strobe lighting display helping create an amazing atmosphere as we all put on our dancing shoes. It was time for one big Electro party as Hot Chip once again proved their greatness.

Monday 22 October 2012

Azealia Banks at Norwich Waterfront

On the evening of Sunday 7th October 2012 I attended the Azealia Banks gig at Norwich Waterfront with support from Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx. There was also a set from DJ Cosmo on a thrilling night of hip hop.

Brooklyn's Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx got the Waterfront crowd in a party mood with hits like Ima Read and Hey Ladies. DJ Cosmo took it to another level with a set of hip hop classics before Azealia Banks took to the stage.

Azealia Banks complete with sea green hair performed tracks from her free online mix tape, Fantasea, and chart topping favourites such as Liquorice and 212. Then she took it to 1991 with a  uh, la la la, flirting with a cool french dude named Antoine, wanna taste the pastry chocolate croissant. 1991 my time has come. Azealia Banks showed us all what a star she is and that she has a very bright future. This was a fun night at Norwich Waterfront.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Organ Recital at Eaton

On the afternoon of Sunday 7th October 2012 I attended the Neil Ricketts Organ Recital at St. Andrew's Church, Eaton, Norwich which was the latest concert in the Eaton Concert Series for the 2012/13 season. Neil Ricketts served as organist at St. Andrew's Church from 1998 to 2008. He is a freelance organist and accompanist who continues to conduct the Eaton Parishes Choir and Orchestra.

The programme consisted of Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV 542 - Bach, Trio Sonata No.5 BWV 529 - Bach, Sonate No.2 fur Orgel ED 2558 - Hindemith, Prelude and Fugue in C minor (Op 37 No.1) - Mendelssohn, Suite Gothique Op 25 - Boellmann, In Paradisum (from Douze Pieces Nouvelles) - Dubois, Bolero de Concert - Lefebure-Wely and Variations sur un Noel (Op 20) - Dupre.

This was a well though out concert with the first half being made up of German composers while after the interval we were given a programme of French composers. It was interesting to compare the different styles. Neil Ricketts played wonderfully and along with the interval apple juice this made for a splendid Sunday afternoon

Saturday 20 October 2012

Beauty and the Beast at Norwich Theatre Royal

A handsome Prince is transformed into a Beast as punishment for his ugly arrogance. Only true love can break the spell. A beautiful young woman is sent to live with the Beast though afraid at first she soon learns that she has nothing to fear except that the Beast longs for a love that she cannot return.

Beauty and the Beast is the stunning new production from David Nixon and the Northern Ballet. On Saturday 6th October 2012 I attended the matinee performance of this magical ballet which brings an enchanted world full fairies, sprites and goblins to the stage. The amazing score which included music from Saint-Saens, Bizet, Debussy, Poulenc and Glazunov was delightfully played by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

The dancers were dressed in haute couture style costumes which gave a wonderful look to this timeless fairytale. Fantastic performances from Pippa Moore as the Beauty, Tobias Batley as Prince Orian, Jessica Morgan as Chantelle, Michela Paolacci as Isabelle and Benjamin Mitchell as the Beast made this an afternoon to remember that proved that beauty is more than skin deep.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Flautissimo at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 6th October 2012 I attended the latest Mancroft Music Autumn Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich featuring Anna Hopkins on flute and David Morgan on piano and organ in a programme called Flautissimo. Anna Hopkins moved to Norfolk in 2004. She works freelance as well as teaching and also performs on Baroque flute, alto flute and piccolo.

David Morgan lectured music at Norwich City College until 2006 as well as spending twenty five years as organist at St. Edmund's Church in Acle. Since his retirement David has maintained an active career as an accompanist and performs regularly with the Norwich Baroque Orchestra.

The programme consisted of Sonata No.4 in C major - Telemann, Ballade Op.288 - Reinecke, Thema mit Veranderungen and Abendlied from Sechs Stucke Op.150 - Rheinberger, Ashokan Farewell - Ungar, Cantabile et Presto - Enesco and In Ireland - Harty.

This was another wonderful lunchtime to be at St. Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich City Centre. My personal favourites from the recital were Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell and Hamilton Harty's In Ireland. Both Anna Hopkins and David Morgan played splendidly with a well though out and varied programme.

Monday 15 October 2012

Dub Me Tender!

On Wednesday 3rd October 2012 I attended the Dub Colossus Dub Band gig at Norwich Arts Centre. This was an exciting night to be at the St. Benedict's Street venue as the Dub Colossus Dub Band who are an fusion band with an inventive blend of Ethiopian jazz and traditional styles, dub reggae and atmospheric instrumentals put on a show to get us all dancing.

Dub Me Tender is the name of their latest album which they brought  to life on the Norwich Arts Centre stage. A full live dub band, this time based around the UK musicians involved in the project, has been put together. This latest version of the Dub Colossus live experience is designed to move the dancefloor in an uncompromising fashion, though still keeping that unmistakeable Ethiopian flavour. This event was part of Norfolk Black History Month 2012.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Grease is the Word!

I was looking for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on Grimwade Street on my way to the Ipswich Regent Theatre on Saturday 29th September 2012 but there was no need to worry if they didn't beat the traffic as Danny Bayne and Carina Gillespie made a brilliant Danny and Sandy. The venue was full of T Birds and Pink Ladies as we all went Greased Lightin'.

It's 1959 and Rydell High is filled with rebellious, thrill-loving students. In the midst of this scene, Sandy Dumbrowski enters as the new girl in school. It turns out that she and the leader of the Burger Palace Boys gang, Danny Zuko, have had a brief love affair the summer before. While Sandy stresses to her new classmates the emotional attachment she and Danny had, Danny stresses the physical aspects of their relationship. As the show goes on, the students at Rydell High have to deal with love, gang violence, teen pregnancy, and friendship. In the end, Sandy and Danny resolve their differences and end up happily together.

It was great fun at the Ipswich Regent Theatre as we were treated to all the wonderful songs from Grease including Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin', Hopelessly Devoted To You and You're The One That I Want. There were lots of laughs and singing as we enrolled at Rydell High to become the latest intake of cats and chicks. Look at me I'm Sandra Dee. This was a celebration of the glory of Grease.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Murder on the Nile at Norwich Theatre Royal

I was back at Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday 24th September 2012 for the opening night of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile performed by the official Agatha Christie Theatre Company. The action takes place on the deck of the paddle steamer Lotus on the Nile between Shellal and Wadi Halfa. This production starred Kate O'Mara, Robert Duncan, Susie Amy, Ben Nealon and Mark Wynter.

On board the steamer Lotus under the scorching Egyptian sun are honeymooners Simon Mostyn and his wealthy socialite wife Kay who are being pursued by Jacqueline De Severac an old flame of the newly wedded groom. When a body is discovered all fingers point to Simon's ex fiancee. Everything is not what it seems and Canon Pennefather is drawn into a web of intrigue and deceit as he finds himself on the trail of a ruthless murderer.

This was a superb production from the Agatha Christie Theatre Company with all the twists and turns of a classic Christie which kept us guessing until the end. A stylish evening at Norwich Theatre Royal with the stunning wardrobe on stage. Murder on the Nile proved to be a gripping voyage which entertained the audience throughout as we shared the experiences of the passangers down the Nile.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Kate Rusby celebrates 20 years of music!

On the evening of Sunday 23rd September 2012 I attended the Kate Rusby concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. She is the defining voice of contemporary English folk music with exquisite interpretations of traditional songs and finely self-penned tunes.

This tour was to celebrate 20 years of making music from the Barnsley Nightingale and she played many songs from her new double album 20 which features new recordings of Kate's favourite songs as well as a new song called Sun Grazers.

Kate Rusby's wonderful singing combined with her Yorkshire wit made this a fun night at Norwich Theatre Royal. She was given brilliant support from her band on many emotional and moving songs. This was the perfect venue for Kate Rusby to help celebrate 20 years of music making on this tour of celebration.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Szymanowski and Brahms at The Barbican

On the evening of Saturday 22nd September 2012 I attended the London Symphony Orchestra concert at The Barbican in the City of London. With conductor Valery Gergiev and soloist Janine Jansen this was the opening concert of the LSO's 2012/13 season.

The programme was Symphony No.1 - Szymonowski, Violin Concerto No.1 - Szymanowski and Symphony No.1 - Brahms. This was part of an exciting series of concerts from the LSO celebrating the music of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski alongside the symphonies of Brahms. This was another wonderful night to be at The Barbican as the LSO gave us a performance to remember.

Szymanowski's First Symphony was composed in 1906/07 and is regarded as a flawed if valiant attempt to write on a larger orchestral scale. This piece has a lot of emotional intensity which interlinks full orchestral and chamber like passages. From 1916 Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No.1 is a piece cast in a single span which was strongly influenced by the poem May Night by Tadeusz Micinski.

Brahms said: "I shall never write a symphony. You can't imagine what it is like to have that giant (Beethoven) marching along behind one." In 1876 after a process that had begun some 20 years earlier Brahms Symphony No.1 was first performed. This piece contains the best of Brahms but was composed to sound unlike anything by Beethoven. His music has a rich sound owing to the dense orchestral texture, complex harmony and tight integration of musical motives.

I really enjoyed my latest visit to The Barbican as the LSO celebrated the great music of Szymanowski and Brahms. This was a brilliant idea to pair these two composer's music together. A dramatic and colourful performance from the LSO conducted by Valery Gergiev which included a splendid Szymanowski Violin Concerto No.1 with Janine Jansen.