Oblique, Tom Goldenberg (2010)
Sign up to receive “Critic's Notebook” in your inbox every Monday—it only takes a few seconds and it's completely free! “Critic's Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in culture, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.
This week: Families fall together and nations fall apart, Brahms cannot go gentle into that good night.
by Kate Havard
Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, 1989
This past Saturday was the 599th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, the historical occasion for the magnificent St. Crispin’s Day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V. The speech reminds me of the worst Henry V that I ever saw—which is also my favorite.
A few years ago, the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C. staged Henry V with a very promising rising star in the lead. But in the performance I saw, the man playing the King was not the man whose face was on the posters.
We few, we happy few, we band of readers: This Saturday is St. Crispin’s Day.
This week's links:
Yes More Drama, by Dan Kois
by James Bowman
Sir Donald Sinden at 75; picture via LES
Sir Donald Sinden is dead, having outlived his style of acting by approximately half a century. Yet by turning from Shakespeare to farce and TV sitcoms, he became one of the grand old men of the British theatre before his death. I remember going to see his King Lear in London in 1976. I don’t remember whether it was my own idea that he was a sort of fossil even then, or if I got it from the critics I read or the other young people I talked to. What was unforgettable was the resonant, declamatory style of speaking the verse that was the exact opposite of the “method” school of acting, which I was used to and which naturally preferred mumbling incomprehension and emoting like crazy. I must have gone along with the crowd in regarding this old-fashioned character as an irrelevancy in that day and age, though I do remember being secretly impressed by him—and thinking that his method must have been much more like what Shakespeare had in mind for the part when he wrote it than anything else I would ever see.
On Thursday night, the New York Philharmonic had a guest conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen, the veteran Finn. They began with Beethoven: the King Stephen Overture. The brass did not quite begin together. Plus, they made an ugly sound. They did better their second time around—both in togetherness and in sound.
Reviewing a concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Salonen last summer at the Salzburg Festival, I wrote,
RGB, Jenny Core (2014)
No doubt many of my readers know about the encounter about Islam between Ben Affleck, the Hollywood actor, and Sam Harris, the “New Atheist” writer and neuroscientist on the Bill Maher show. I do not know Benn Affleck’s work as an actor, so I don’t know whether he is commonly cast in comic roles. He […]
Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (1881). Up for grabs (of a sort) on November 5th
This week's links:
Secretive, arrogant and reckless: the young T.E. Lawrence began life as he meant to go on
Ana Durlovski as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
At the Metropolitan Opera last week, a fellow critic asked me, “Have you seen The Magic Flute here yet this season?” I said I had not, but soon would. “It’s great,” he said, “just great.” My experience turned out to be the same as his: great, just great.
Two nights ago, Pretty Yende gave a recital in Weill Recital Hall. And what better place for a recital than a recital hall? Weill is the fetching upstairs annex in the Carnegie building.
Yende is a South African soprano, not yet thirty. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2012-13 season in Rossini’s Comte Ory. Right now, she is singing Pamina in the Met’s Magic Flute (a Mozart opera, as you know).
This singer is true to her name—her first name, Pretty. When she appeared for the second half of her recital, in a different gown from the first half’s, a man called out, “Gorgeous.” She smiled. And she has a million-dollar smile, and an utterly winning stage presence.
( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)
In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
Follow us on Twitter:
To contact The New Criterion by email, write to:Contact
November 04, 2014
Friends and Young Friends Event: Election Night Party
November 12, 2014
Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts
More events >