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April 16   -   Guardian

Britten-Pears Orchestra/Alsop review – vivid Britten and Bartók

Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh Marin Alsop inspired individuality and panache, and led a zinging European premiere of a special John Adams work

Lola Montez’s extraordinary story has been told in films, and could in itself be a whole opera, with characters including her lovers Alexandre Dumas, père, Liszt and Ludwig I of Bavaria. But American theatregoers feted her as a cabaret hoofer, and that’s the cameo John Adams gives her in his Girls of the Golden West, which will premiere at San Francisco Opera in November.

As a dance-alone taster, Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance is tantalising, and this was a zinging European premiere by the Britten-Pears Orchestra under Marin Alsop, to whom it is dedicated. It is not quite a tarantella, but its rhythms and zany, brassy feel, together with the exhibitionist clarinet, created a vivid picture of Montez (who did eventually go a bit mad, not from a tarantula bite but probably tertiary syphilis). Paired with the Adams was Anna Clyne’s Masquerade, premiered by Alsop at the 2013 Proms, its polished surface shining bright here.

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