Swan Lake, Shostakovich and the Soviets

IMG_5826.JPG2017 is a pretty big year. Both me and Russia are marking big anniversaries. I celebrated a significant birthday, and Russia marked the centenary of the 1917 Revolution. So, you know, basically the same. I decided, ‘why not “celebrate” both’?! St Petersburg and Moscow were both places I’ve always wanted to visit, but they’re both a little more special (and distant) than a typical European city break / weekend-away, so it seemed ideal to combine the two anniversaries!

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Opera: Passion, Power and Politics

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I was lucky enough to go to the press launch of the new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum today – it’s called Opera: Passion, Power and Politics and officially opens this Saturday 30th September. The way the exhibition is structured is around 7 different operas and 7 cities, and the relationship between each – so, absolutely perfect for this blog about music and travel. I don’t think I can claim this is a review but I can share some thoughts about my visit. Continue reading

A whirl around the Vienna State Opera

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I love opera and I love Mahler. So it’s kind of inevitable that someone like me is going to be very keen to visit Vienna State Opera as soon as I have the chance. As with other Viennese places I’ve blogged about, visiting around the time of my summer birthday means no performances. But we did head inside for a tour and got to see some things we wouldn’t have done if we’d just gone to a performance. Continue reading

Opera and outdoor picnics

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What does summer sound like to you? Maybe it’s the pock pock pock of tennis, the buzz buzz buzz of a wasp or the pat pat pat of heavily-applied suncream. For me, summer starts with the sounds of corks popping, sandwiches being unwrapped and singers doing their vocal exercises. By that I mean the season of opera festivals that signal the beginning of British summer time. I’m going to talk about four different opera picnic combo options: Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera, Big Screen Opera and firstly, Glyndebourne.

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Musical mooch in Moscow

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I’ve just got back from Russia and had the absolute best time. I can’t recommend the place enough – both St Petersburg and Moscow are drenched in music and history, and you can hardly walk down a street without seeing a plaque with a famous name on it (particularly Lenin’s).

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Lenin woz here

There are numerous individual musical locations I’m going to talk about later, but I thought I’d start off with a musical mooch I took, taking in a few locations within a 30 minute walk in the centre of Moscow. Continue reading

Versailles

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In the Hall of Mirrors

Somehow I always manage to go to places at just the wrong time for musical experiences – you’d think as a musical traveller I’d know better. Whether it’s off-season in Vienna or Versailles, I always manage to go when the music stops. It’s like I’m really bad at international musical chairs. Continue reading

Opera Bolognese

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Bologna has three nicknames – la dotta, la rossa, la grassa: the Learned (due to its 11th century university, the 2nd oldest in the world) , the Red (for the architecture) and the Fat – needless to say, I was most interested in the latter. The city is a lovely place, not somewhere I would’ve thought to visit to be honest, but I was lucky enough to have a friend who lived there so I popped over for a visit to catch up, soak up some sun and culture, and eat a lot of gelato.

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