Patrick Carnegy

Patrick Carnegy is working on a book to be called Wagner and the Art of the Theatre.

How long before Ofop steps in?

Patrick Carnegy, 16 March 2000

As the Royal Opera House staged its grand reopening, two of its former bosses filed conflicting accounts of its recent history. Both John Tooley (1970-88) and Jeremy Isaacs (1988-97) describe the House’s considerable achievements over the past half-century; and Isaacs’s part in pushing through the magnificent rebuilding was heroic. What we still want to know is why things also went so cataclysmically wrong.

Mrs Berlioz

Patrick Carnegy, 30 December 1982

The Irish actress Harriet Smithson is remembered as an extraordinary episode in the life of Hector Berlioz. Appearing in the 1827 English theatre season in Paris, she took the city by storm – lithographs of her as the mad Ophelia were in every prinitshop window. Ladies of fashion demanded coiffure ‘à la Miss Smithson’ – a black veil with wisps of straw tastefully interwoven amongst the hair. As Peter Raby puts it, in a biography which for the first time gives her side of the story, ‘the conjunction of beauty, forlorn love, madness and premature death’ was irresistible to the French. Through her, Shakespeare suddenly became a central part of French consciousness and the preoccupation of writers such as Hugo and Dumas. The young Berlioz worshipped her from afar, but so intensely that he nearly had a mental breakdown. She became the inspiration and programme of the Symphonie Fantastique. Eventually he married her. But by the time he was introduced to his idée fixe it was too late. Better that the idée had never materialised. Better still that it had never been matrimonialised.

Music Made Visible: Wagner

Stephen Walsh, 24 April 2008

Among the operatic victims of what its enemies nowadays refer to as ‘directors’ theatre’, Wagner has suffered as much as anyone. Keith Warner has the Wanderer crash-land his...

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