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Mrs Berlioz

Patrick Carnegy, 30 December 1982

Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz 
by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £12.95, September 1982, 0 521 24421 8
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Mazeppa: The Lives, Loves and Legends of Adah Isaacs Menken 
by Wolf Mankowitz.
Blond and Briggs, 270 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 85634 119 3
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... 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 ...

How long before Ofop steps in?

Patrick Carnegy, 16 March 2000

In House: Covent Garden, 50 Years of Opera and Ballet 
by John Tooley.
Faber, 318 pp., £25, November 1999, 9780571194155
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Never Mind the Moon: My Time at the Royal Opera House 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Bantam, 356 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 593 04355 3
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... 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 ...

Music Made Visible

Stephen Walsh: Wagner, 24 April 2008

Wagner and the Art of the Theatre 
by Patrick Carnegy.
Yale, 461 pp., £35, September 2006, 0 300 10695 5
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... a microchip factory. In Ruth Berghaus’s Frankfurt Götterdämmerung, described in some detail by Patrick Carnegy, the murdered Siegfried ‘was not solemnly borne aloft but brutally kicked aside by Hagen’s men’. Not all of these images are stupid or anti-musical, but as a whole they are symptoms of a process that has invaded opera over the past ...

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