Visit London Blog » London Coliseum Enjoy the very best of London Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s On This Weekend: 9-11 August 2013 Mon, 05 Aug 2013 09:31:07 +0000

There are lots of fun activities on this weekend for both children and adults – why not learn about science, make your own ice cream or see some stunning press photography?

Icy Activity Day at the London Canal Museum

Cool down with this fun day of children’s activities at the London Canal Museum, which brings the story of the Victorian ice trade to life. Between 10am and 4pm kids can learn how ice forms, help create an ice-based artwork, and make – and sample! – authentic ice-cream with the help of Victorian cook Agnes Marshall. Entry to the museum is £4 for adults or £2 for children. 10 Aug

Treasures from a Hidden Garden at the Chelsea Physic Garden

In the 18th century, celebrated botanical artists such as Georg Dionysius Ehret worked in the Chelsea Physic Garden to study, sketch and paint the plants within. This tradition is still alive today, and members of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society meet every month. This exhibition provides a rare chance to see their wonderful paintings and drawings – don’t miss out! Entry is £9 for adults. Until 30 Aug

Free Theatre Performances at The Scoop, More London

Part of the More London Free Festival, these back-to-back theatrical perfomances provide a perfect evening of free entertainment by the Thames. Every Wednesday to Saturday in August you can see a family performances of The Prince of Thebes at 6pm, followed by Oedipus and Antigone for older audiences from 8pm to 10pm. To see these two great Thebes-based plays, simply turn up and bag a seat; you’re also welcome to bring your own food and drink, as long as it’s not in glass containers. Until 1 Sep

Day of the Mind Fete, Mile End

The Shuffle Film Festival, curated by Danny Boyle, runs between 8 and 18 August and features the London Olympic opening ceremony director’s films as well as local shorts, dance and music. One of its highlights will be the Day of the Mind fete, run in conjunction with the Wellcome Collection. The free event takes place from 11am to 11pm on Sunday and includes talks, workshops and science-based fun for both children and adults. 11 Aug

The Press Photographer’s Year Exhibition at the National Theatre

Relive the events of 2012 at this consistently stunning exhibition, which showcases the best press photographs used in the UK media. More than 12,000 photographs were entered for consideration, and the competition’s judges have selected the best 150 for recognition and public display. You’ll see incredible shots in categories such as news, royalty, entertainment and the Olympics, which can’t fail to inspire you to make the most of your own camera. Entry to the exhibition is free. Until 30 Aug

More London events

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Six New West End Musicals to Look Forward to in 2012 Thu, 29 Dec 2011 14:00:43 +0000

It’s been an interesting year for West End musicals. 2011 has seen huge success stories like Matilda and Crazy For You transfer to the West End, as well as The Wizard of Oz, Shrek and Ghost The Musical.

How can 2012 top that? Well, if the rumours are true, we could be in for some pretty exciting new musicals for the Olympic year. There are whispers of Bridget Jones’ Diary The Musical (with the ever-brilliant Sheridan Smith as the lead); murmurs of Viva Forever The Musical (Spice Girls songs and Jennifer Saunders writing – what more could you want?!); hints about a musical version of The Bodyguard, complete with Whitney Houston’s songs; and suggestions of a Wind In The Willows musical too…

While I love rumours as much as the next person, my tips for 2012 are all based on facts. These shows are definitely coming, and you should be getting excited about them!

1. Master Class, Vaudeville Theatre, from 21 Jan
Tyne Daly has already wowed Broadway audiences with her performance as Maria Callas in Master Class. Next month, she’s heading to London to do the same. I can’t wait.

2. Singin’ In the Rain, Palace Theatre, from 4 Feb
One of my favourite films of all time, it’ll be great to see Singin’ In The Rain on the London stage in February. Particularly with star dancer Adam Cooper in the lead role, and Scarlett Strallen as Kathy.

3. Sweeney Todd, Adelphi Theatre, from 10 Mar
I’m thrilled that Michael Ball is heading back to the West End. He’s such a fantastic singer, and an all-round musical superstar. Sweeney Todd has already had rave reviews from Chichester; I’m so excited about seeing this show when it comes to London in the spring

4. Top Hat, Aldwych Theatre, from 19 Apr
I was a big fan of Tom Chambers when he was on Strictly Come Dancing, so I can’t wait to see him in Top Hat in the West End. My parents have already seen this show on tour, and promise that we’re in for a real treat when it comes to the Aldwych next year. And there’s another one of those Strallen sisters to look out for! (Summer, this time.)

5. Wah! Wah! Girls, Peacock Theatre, from 24 May
Just while you were thinking that all I was going to recommend for 2012 were revivals and transfers, I give you a sparkling new musical from Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh. It’s East London meets Bollywood, and part of the exciting World Stages London collaboration for 2012.

6. Porgy And Bess, London Coliseum, from 11 Jul
Finally for summertime (when else?!), the Cape Town Opera comes to the London Coliseum to mark 75 years since George Gershwin’s death. This vibrant, physical production of Porgy And Bess shifts the action to apartheid-era Soweto, with all the classical-jazz-opera musical combinations as strong as ever. It should be a real spectacle.

What musicals are you looking forward to seeing in 2012? Let us know in the comments below…

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The Passenger at the London Coliseum Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:00:58 +0000

The Passenger is a bleak story, but through the medium of opera it resonated with the ENO audience last Wednesday to the extent that by the end many were on their feet applauding, touched by the melancholy account. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel Pasazerka by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, it is brought to the stage by librettist Alexander Medvedev and composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg.

Set in the early 1960s and focussing on the effects of the Holocaust, it is, unsurprisingly, a heavy night. Johan Engels’ set is marvellous, a symbolic white ship that beneath the decks reveals a dark and dusty camp, home of the tortured prisoners. This visual juxtaposition is intensely shocking and makes the narrative even more appalling.

The opera documents an encounter between two women – one is a former Auschwitz guard, the other a former prisoner. We watch the story unfurl in the camp, while in the present (15years later) they unexpectedly meet again on a boat to Brazil, provoking feelings of guilt, terror, sadness and revenge.

Weinberg’s music is challenging and unexpected, and demonstrates a mix of influences. Expansive and complex, I was amazed by the fluency of the orchestra and conductor Sir Richard Armstrong. I was most moved by the folk tunes in the second half, especially the a cappella Russian song by Katya (Julia Sporsen). Vocally the cast are tremendous, and particular mention must go to leading ladies Michelle Breedt (Liese) and Giselle Allen (Marta) who both sing superbly.

Weinberg’s The Passenger is a modern masterpiece and the ENO delivers a staggering experience. I hope this opera gets the recognition it deserves, the massive effort and dedication is clear in every aspect of this production.

The Passenger at the London Coliseum until 25 Oct 2011. Book tickets

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The Elixir of Love at London Coliseum Mon, 26 Sep 2011 16:15:39 +0000  

I absolutely loved this production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love at the ENO.

Legendary director Jonathan Miller rarely disappoints and here he exceeds all expectations, reviving his popular production of this comic classic. Set in the 1950′s, inspired by the era of Marilyn Monroe, it feels as if Donizetti  precisely intended this setting and time, the modernity chimes with the fun and flirty storyline and score.

Sarah Tynan has the charm and attitude to make the perfect pin-up girl Adina. With a peroxide blonde hairdo and a cheeky pink uniform she shakes her hips and isn’t afraid to flirt naughtily on stage. Her soprano voice is bright and clear, and she controls it well during the fiddly arias, running up and down the virtuosic passages with elasticity. She is surrounded on stage by a cast of talented men, Ben Johnson is brilliant as the lovesick Nemorino; with a gorgeous bel canto tenor voice he suits Donizetti’s music well. Andrew Shore is hilarious as the fraudulent doctor, witty and full of life, his acting and singing are commendable.

The Elixir of Love, until 8 Oct  2011. Book tickets

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Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at London Coliseum Wed, 25 May 2011 09:34:41 +0000 The English National Opera‘s new production of Britten‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is certainly not conventional.

Director Christopher Alden has scrapped the dreamy forest in favour of a 1960′s school yard setting – a tad morbid and bizarre. Some of the characters are teachers (Oberon and Tytania) and some are pupils (Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Helena). The lover’s tiffs from Shakespeare’s original turn to adolescent arguments and teenage romances.

Charles Edward‘s set is strikingly beautiful and imaginative – giant brickwork walls of an urban British boys school, complete with high windows and several floors, it is staggeringly realistic. For me the design was the highlight of the production.

Visually this opera is quite unbelievable. The vast set and at times the sheer quantity of young boys on stage is enough to make you gasp. No-one can deny it is a daring production but I couldn’t help wondering how necessary all this drama is? It is not beneficial to our understanding, confused the already complicated narrative, and made little sense to me.

The large cast dealt with this odd interpretation as best they could. I have never seen so many young children in one opera – at one point when all the boys lined up across the stage I counted nearly 40!

The vocal star of the show was most definitely counter tenor Iestyn Davies as Oberon. He sings this tricky part wonderfully with pitch perfect accuracy and gorgeous tone. I could have listened to him all night. The chorus excelled producing a rich sound and bringing the best out of Britten’s stunning music.

The orchestra worked persistently on Britten’s tricky music, and I thought their rendition evoked all the magic of the Britten’s otherworldly score. Leo Hussain performed well too, conducting with a sensitive understanding of the music. Much of this opera’s music is quiet and hesitant – musical directions that are exhausting to conduct, especially for a three hour production. However, this didn’t seem to trouble Hussain at all and he seemed completely at ease throughout.

A very strange, and yet mesmerising production of Britten’s dazzling opera, go and see it if you like your opera a bit on the wild side.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the London Coliseum until 30 June. Book tickets

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Don Giovanni at ENO Thu, 18 Nov 2010 09:30:29 +0000

English National Opera’s (ENO) interpretation of Mozart’s famous opera Don Giovanni has a modern urban feel and is much darker than other ENO shows I’ve seen recently at the London Coliseum.

We are warned before entering that we will experience strobe lights, a strange sensation when sitting in a big opera house. Besides the visual effects, atmospheric breathing noises are heard and throughout the performance masked demons sneak and run about on stage.

Kirill Karabits is an energetic conductor who seems to love being in the pit, and he gets a big sound from the the small orchestra.  The cast is made up of impressive talent, with Iain Paterson in the lead role, bellowing maliciously as the callous Don Giovanni.

Brindley Sherratt is the most convincing actor on stage as the greasy sidekick, Leporello. He is surprisingly hilarious as well as vocally brilliant. I particularly enjoyed his catalogue aria that director Rufus Norris re-imagines as a doctor’s statistical presentation; clever timing provides the audience with many laughs.

Don Giovanni is a long opera, but with Mozart’s lyrical melodies and sharp wit it is always a winner. This new production at the ENO presents the opera in a completely unique and even shocking light.

Don Giovanni continues at The Colliseum until 3 December 2010, book Don Giovanni tickets here.

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Faust at the English National Opera Tue, 21 Sep 2010 15:50:12 +0000 The opera to see this month, in my opinion, is Faust, Gounod‘s five act epic.

Marking the start of the English National Opera (ENO)’s exciting new season this production is directed by award-winning director Des McAnuff, and conducted by the charismatic Edward Gardner. The opera is based loosely on Goethe’s Faust, Part I with a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carre and is an entirely new production for the ENO.

With a running time just over three hours and two intervals, you definitely get your money’s worth. This is a show that will appeal to both opera fanatics and those less confident with the form. The music is dramatic and the lyrical tunes will grab your attention. And the narrative is unusually easy to follow!

It is rare that I particularly notice an orchestra during an operatic performance, but in this case I did. They play with great vigour and energy, perhaps thanks to Gardner’s diverse experience conducting both West End bands and large operatic orchestras.

I cannot fault the singing either, Toby Spence leads the cast as the scientist Faust, a tiring tenor role that requires real talent; several of his arias were breathtakingly beautiful. There are only a few more soloists, I think Anna Grevelius as feeble Siebel and Iain Paterson as demonic Mephistopheles stand out.

The set is perhaps a little nonsensical, but I found it easy to overlook this as the other effects on stage are wonderful. Throughout the performance a giant projection of Marguerite’s face is shown, reminding us constantly of Faust’s leading lady and of the important love story that holds the narrative together. This face is particularly unnerving when it occasionally moves or blinks at you.

This ENO season also introduces a series of pre-performance talks called Join The Conversation: Live! hosted by the epic new Apple Store in Covent Garden.

Faust at the London Coliseum until 16 October 2010.

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Puccini’s Tosca by the ENO at London Coliseum Wed, 09 Jun 2010 08:00:27 +0000

The opera Tosca is, above all, an epic love story. Every year you are sure to find Puccini’s masterpiece on somewhere, this summer it is being performed by the ENO (English National Opera) at London Coliseum.

My first encounter with this opera was at the age of 15 when I was given the part of Shepherd Boy (in my case they made it into Shepherd Girl) at Holland Park Opera. The power of the music blew me away, ever since it has been my favourite opera. This time around the music moved me close to tears.

The ENO’s production is stunning. The three central protagonists: Tosca, Scarpia and Cavaradossi are all played by singers that seem fully engrossed in their roles; this makes the audience’s job to watch and believe very easy. South African singer Amanda Echalaz makes a pretty Floria Tosca, her voice is unfaltering, but it was her acting that particularly impressed me. She was entirely convincing throughout and has genuine chemistry with her leading man. Tosca’s suicide, which concludes the opera, was spectacular with Amanda falling backwards off the rear of the stage with shocking grace.

Julian Gavin who plays Mario Cavaradossi has a wonderfully creamy tenor voice, a pure delight to listen to. It is a difficult role to sing, but he easily hit the notes and managed to fill the entire theatre. The baddie, Baron Scarpia must be a fun part to play, in this production Antony Michaels-Moore takes it on with gleeful terror.

The set had a Neo-Classical feel that worked well with the production as a whole. Cavaradossi’s painting in the first act is an important feature, and it is a shame that it was shown as a strange mosaic-type picture, but apart from that the set was appropriate.

Conductor, Edward Gardner did a sterling job with the orchestra, although the music needs little help to sound beautiful. Puccini himself commented, “Only with emotion can one achieve a triumph that endures” and this is entirely true of Tosca, which I believe has some of the most passionate, overpoweringly emotional music of all time.

Any well known opera is open to great criticism, but I have seen four productions of Tosca in my lifetime, and this is hands down the best. The ENO’s Tosca is on until the 10 July, I promise you won’t be disappointed, this is a show not to miss.

Book tickets HERE.

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