Review: ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’

My review of a fantastic adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez's short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Published in 1955, Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings imagines a village’s reaction to an old man with wings appearing in a couple’s courtyard — a man assumed to be an angel.... Continue Reading →


A year without Shakespeare?

I’ve just come back from the Sage Gateshead, where I was at Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival for my last official outing as a New Generation Thinker. It was a little different to the essays and discussion shows I’d done so far: we all had to come up with a “controversial idea” for an academic... Continue Reading →

Review: Tom Stoppard on text and performance

A review of Sir Tom Stoppard’s lecture as Humanitas Professor of Drama at Oxford University.

The Oxford Culture Review

How much “Shakespeare” is there in a Shakespeare play? A facetious question, perhaps. But it’s a question that is peculiarly specific to the theatre — how much of the author can one distinguish in a play text? Unlike the novel, with its possibilities for narrative stretches where the author’s “voice” can emerge, in plays the author is heard through the lens of an actor playing a character. And that’s before you take in to account the director, stage and sound design, costumes, lighting… Of course, in poetry and prose the author can also adopt masks and assume characters, but the presence of multiple voices is more acute when dealing with live events such as plays. This relationship between page and stage, and the position of the playwright’s authorial voice, provided the subject for Sir Tom Stoppard’s first lecture as the Humanitas Visiting Professor of Drama at Oxford University. With characteristic…

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Interpreting Performance: An Interview with Imogen Cooper

Interview with international concert pianist Imogen Cooper

The Oxford Culture Review

As an international concert pianist, Imogen Cooper’s career has encompassed performances across the globe, working with musicians such as Sir Colin Davis and Sir Simon Rattle, and recording works by Schubert, Mozart, Schumann, and Beethoven amongst others. She has recently been appointed Oxford’s Humanitas Professor of Classical Music and Musical Education, a series of visiting professorships dedicated to addressing themes in the arts, social sciences, and humanities. I spoke to her about her career as a pianist and her new role as Humanitas Professor.

Why do you choose to play Schubert? What’s special about his music for you?

It’s a love affair that goes back a very long way. I first heard his music when I was a teenager studying in Paris. I didn’t hear it through any of my teachers and I’m rather glad of that, because I’m not sure French Schubert is necessarily something what I would have…

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Eglesfield Music Society: Dido and Aeneas

Preview of Eglesfield Music Society ‘Dido and Aeneas’.

The Oxford Culture Review

Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is one of the most frequently performed pieces in the standard operatic repertoire; as one of the earliest English operas it has received consistent attention following the renewed interest in Baroque music, and the historically informed performance movement. Not only does it combine memorable music with Virgil’s compelling tale of doomed love, enhanced by flashes of dark humour, but it is scored for small forces making it a perfect choice for student opera companies. The Eglesfield Musical Society is no exception to this; EMS Opera disbanded in 2007 but are currently enjoying a resurrection with Dido and Aeneas. Naturally, when I attended the rehearsals for Dido I arrived with high expectations, wondering how EMS Opera were going to present a new perspective on the opera.

The director, Daisy Gibbs, is all too aware of this challenge. She says that this production hopes to “bring out…

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