Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Tsarina's Slippers/ROH

Apparently Tchaikovsky's opera The Tsarina's Slippers enjoys the same iconic status in Russia as his ballet The Nutcracker does every where else in the world. Strangely though this Xmas tale by Gogal is only now receiving its debut at the Royal Opera House. It's a jolly little story about a blacksmith who rides on a devil's back to St. Petersburg to find the perfect slippers for his beloved back home. Tchaikovsky's score is sweet enough but probably lacks the punch of a Nutcracker, at least on first hearing. But, it's every bit as camp; I've never seen such colourful sets. And there's a good deal of ballet running throughout - it's no wonder the BBC has decided to broadcast it on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Grierson Awards/BFI

This awards ceremony was a welcome reminder of just how many outstanding documentaries are still being produced for British TV. It's not easy of course; docs depend on mavericks to make them, at least that's the impression I got at the BFI yesterday. But mavericks don't always do what TV bosses want - they eschew the safety of formats and often go over budget. But God, do we need them if TV is still going to mean something. On the evidence of last night, it's not TV that's dumbing down but the scheduling.