It is one of the mysteries of life that the language of music, while being inadequate to describe a chair or what we had for lunch, can say everything there is to say about fear, love, awe and other complex emotions that words often struggle with.
The price of inheritance Premium12 January 2017 | by Lucy Lethbridge
Now that the British actor Tom Hardy has become a Hollywood star, he can choose his projects – and in the lavish new eight-episode miniseries Taboo (7 January), he told a newspaper, he was offered the kind of starring role he has always wanted: part Bill Sikes, part Hannibal Lector and with a dash of Mr Darcy thrown in.
Unusual choices of two seasonal shows put Catholicism unexpectedly centre stage in London theatre. In the final scene of one, a piece of wall falls down to reveal a hidden monstrance, while the other closes with an image of a sunlit altar set for Mass.
Richard Strauss’ best-known work looks like the popular idea of what opera is: an anguished soprano drifts around a drawing room in a big frock while the massive orchestra heaves and cascades around her in tones of impossible voluptuousness. What is she on about? Does it matter?
It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the British Museum. The antidote, as with all museums, is to home in on one gallery or period of history; or even one object – particularly if that object is the museum’s most significant recent acquisition, a comely 30in tall alabaster sculpture of the Virgin Mary and her infant son.
Outside the Imperial War Museum, a small boy runs to photograph the 15in naval guns on his father’s phone. During the holidays the museum is a magnet for boys of all ages, bursting as it is with military toys. But in the excitement over the monumental hardware, some smaller exhibits are being overlooked.
In 1611, the Dominicans of San Pedro Mártir in Toledo were looking for an artist to paint an altarpiece for their new church. The city’s most famous artist, El Greco, was approaching 70 and the friars wanted a new look for their new building, so they hired a young artist who had just returned from Rome versed in the revolutionary style of religious realism pioneered by Caravaggio.
In the church of St Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London on Monday 19 December the young award-winning organist of Toulouse cathedral Jem Stephenson plays a lunchtime rendition of Messiaen’s organ cycle La Nativité du Seigneur on the recently restored Renatus Harris instrument built in 1684.
As Christmas approaches, a heavily pregnant woman seeks decent accommodation, but is forced to make do with rough, public, temporary shelter. This familiar scenario is transformed in the National Theatre’s extraordinary seasonal offering.
In Six Wives with Lucy Worsley (from 7 December), a three-part series on the marital history of Henry VIII, the historian was thrilled about securing access to the Vatican library where, for the first time, she was allowed to show on camera 17 letters, amorous in tone, from Henry to Anne Boleyn.
Soon after the death of Leonard Cohen, the attention of the cultural world turns to the other musician most famous for writing a chorus turning on the word “Hallelujah!” The big Christmas show at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is Nick Drake’s play All the Angels: Handel and the First Messiah (6 December-12 February).
Throughout his life Rembrandt was able to bridge the divides of Christianity. The Protestant son of a Catholic mother, he possessed a deep faith yet did not belong to any church; and though from northern Europe, he always drew heavily on Rome’s baroque tradition.
Put a violent criminal in prison and most people accept that he will eventually be released. Put a violent criminal into secure psychiatric care and there is a widespread view that he should stay there for ever, even though responsibility for his actions may lie, in whole or in part, with his illness.
Twelve years ago, the Whitechapel Gallery staged an exhibition called “Faces in the Crowd” that aimed to re-establish the avant-garde credentials of figurative art. The show included a high proportion of artists’ videos, most of which passed me by in a blur.
Both Bleak House and King Lear are literary masterpieces, but there is a key difference in the audience’s experience. Across two readings of the Dickens novel, the style and content of the book stay constant; but see Shakespeare’s play twice and it is different each time – and starkly so in a pair of new high-profile versions.
Most Read Articles
Manage my subcription hereManage
Sign up for our newsletterSign Up