Friday, October 28, 2016

The Telegraph reviews John Joubert's Jane Eyre opera and gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
Recorded live at this world premiere concert performance by the English Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, it is proof again of Joubert’s distinctive voice, and a reminder that there is much more to his music than those deservedly well-loved carols. [...]
Completed nearly 20 years ago, his Charlotte Brontë opera has undergone revision and tightening to emerge in the two-act form heard here. Kenneth Birkin’s libretto distills the emotional essence of the novel – rather than its epic sweep and detail – taking a selective “scenes from” approach. It works hauntingly well, although amid a series of mostly intimate duets, the sudden ballooning of the cast in the wedding scene not only feels like something out of a different work but might prove an obstacle to opera houses looking to stage the piece. [...]
In the title role, April Fredrick sang with a lyrically gleaming soprano, soaring rapturously on Joubert’s singer-friendly lines. David Stout supplied virile tone as Rochester, and Mark Milhofer was incisive as the repressed Revd St John Rivers. Kenneth Woods conducted a well-prepared performance that ought on disc to win new admirers for the operatic Joubert. British opera companies have all too shabbily ignored his work, but American houses – often receptive to big literary adaptations – might take note. (John Allison)
Music Web International has an article on the recording of the opera as well as some impressions of the evening.
•  None of the singers were impassive. Facial acting was very much the order of the day. All most expressively done.
•  The music was full of engagement and I enjoyed it enormously. It is torrid at times, often tense and characterised by lapping motifs. Mine are crude first impressions but the music reminded me at times of RVW, more often of Walton's Troilus and Cressida. In fact there were several instances where Walton's soundworld seemed to have lodged strongly whether in echoes of the First Symphony or of the crashing impacts heard in Belshazzar's Feast (Act II sc. 2).
•  It's a very passionate work and full of heart. There were many very telling moments. These included the way the French Horn three or four times echoes the singers, the sea-swell motion of the string writing and the impression of waves of emotion crashing against obdurate cliff landscapes, the tragic-furious march at the send of Act I Sc. 2, the almost tangible green-leaf outdoor imagery in Act I Sc. 3 as articulated by the orchestra and Jane, trickily intricate rhythms (Act II sc. 2) and the final Act II sc. 3 - an extended (slightly too long for its material, I thought) lyrical essay: nothing emotionally hectoring, bird-song evoked, the voices of Rochester and Jane echoed by the French horn and finishing in something close to a Delian glow rather than a stompingly obvious Puccinian blast. (Rob Barnett)
Blackmore Vale Magazine reviews another production of Jane Eyre: produced by Ferndown Drama at Barrington Theatre.
Clearly this group were confident they could pull it off - and they do, overcoming some additional hurdles in the process.
Their much respected director Kevin Dicker died half way through rehearsals, which was a huge sadness to the company. Fortunately Paul Marcus, a very experienced director stepped into the breach.
And Phoenix Musical Society came forward to lend Victorian costumes as Ferndown Drama has no collection of its own. [...]
The leading roles of Jane (Polly Ashness) and Rochester ( Jon-Michael Lindsey) are taken by actors who are also members of Bournemouth Shakespeare Players, and neither disappoint.
Polly has just the right measure of humility, yet strength of character, whilst Jon-Michael has the audience in the palm of his hand as his initial steely surface gives way to a huge depth of humanity and vulnerability. [...]Helen Kuster is calm and homely as the kindly housekeeper Mrs Fairfax and Leah Jane portrays the 12-year-old Adele with an abundance of exuberance.
The other six members of the cast have relatively small roles - Vicki Milner, Martin Winchester, Kirsty Dixon, Cliff Baker, Bob Johnson and Rebecca Christie - but all contribute well to this moving production.
It runs until the end of this week, so do go along for an atmospheric play that is well acted and directed. (Marilyn Barber)
Ekathimerini mentions briefly Greek theatre director Yiannis Kalavrianos's next project.
Next, the Greek director is set to begin work on a new project based on Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” The State Theater of Northern Greece production is scheduled to go on stage in February. (Iota Sykka)
Economist's Prospero celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Wide Sargasso Sea.
Yet the extraordinary style of “Wide Sargasso Sea” is as impressive as its content. Lyrical and evocative, Rhys’s language conjures a landscape while giving us a glimpse of Antoinette’s state of mind (“overgrown…and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell”). It also reveals Rochester’s unease and growing hatred of everything that belongs to Antoinette’s world, precisely because its pull is intense and threatening. For him, that same landscape has “too much blue, too much purple, too much green”. A language of sensory overload accompanies his growing paranoia about marriage and masculinity; he convinces himself that his father, Antoinette’s step-father and her step-brother are all laughing at him for marrying “spoiled goods”.
Rhys’s novel takes these familiar characters and fleshes them out. Both Rochester and Antoinette emerge from “Wide Sargasso Sea” as psychologically complex characters; in “Jane Eyre”, Rochester is portrayed as a noble misanthrope and “Bertha” the two-dimensional “madwoman in the attic”. Rhys’ scene-setting language creates characters that evoke the madness and damage of desiring ownership over a person, be it for marriage, sex, power or colonial exploitation. In the case of “Wide Sargasso Sea”, it is a heady mix of all. (S.J.)
A columnist at BookRiot has selected Jane Steele as part of her 'Lady-Rage Reading List for This Year's Election'.
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
This one was everywhere, I feel, a while ago and for good reason. If you read the original Jane Eyre and thought there should be some more murdering, then man, this is for you. This is about a Jane Eyre who strikes back; when she finds herself in situations where she is backed into a corner, she defends herself and the people she loves. I think it is cathartic to read. Because yes, she does have to come to terms with her actions, but there is some kind of emotional resonance in today’s political climate. I think this is also relevant because there’s a throughline in this about how the Sikh butler that Mr. Thornfield employs is untrustworthy because he isn’t you know, white and English. Hmmmmmm. (Sonja Palmer)
Samantha Ellis's How to Be a Heroine is one of '7 Books About Books You Should Be Reading' according to Reading Group Center.
How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
“An honest and open-hearted book by someone whose life has been informed and enriched by her reading.” —Susan Hill, The Times (London)
While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre. With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today.
Another review of Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill seems to think that Jane Austen was a Victorian lady. We are beginning to worry lest the mistake lies with the book itself and not just the reviews of it. From the Daily Mail:
To demonstrate the readers the difference between the realities of life in the Victorian era, and the glossy image created in fiction, Therese starts the book by inviting readers on a journey back in time to the days romanticized by the likes of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and of course all the filmmakers of the many period films and TV shows on offer today. (Valerie Siebert)
Writer Daphne Merkin tells Time about her childhood:
I escaped into books, identifying wildly with surly but dashing characters like Heathcliff, and discussed my various suicidal and homicidal urges with a comprehending red-bearded therapist. 
And this columnist from LitHub tells about her first encounter with Anne Shirley, who soon
joined ranks with the coterie of fictional odd girls—Jane Eyre, Matilda, Jo March—who kept my neurotic, lonely heart company. L.M. Montgomery, like so many of my favorite authors, begot a heroine who transcended her narrative. (Rachel Vorona Cote)
Elle (France) Shares a conversation between film director Nicole Garcia and psychoanalyst  Anne Dufourmantelle about the former's film Mal de pierres.
Nicole Garcia. Gabrielle veut être vue et lue par un homme. Je pouvais avoir le même désir : être lue mieux que je ne peux le faire moi-même, découverte et reconnaissante de cela.
Anne Dufourmantelle. Vous dites que votre héroïne veut être lue, et il est frappant qu'elle éprouve du désir pour deux hommes, qui, chacun, débute la relation en lui offrant un livre. L'instituteur lui fait lire « Les Hauts de Hurlevent », d'Emily Brontë, et le lieutenant Sauvage, « Propos sur le bonheur » d'Alain. Dans les deux cas, les deux hommes perçoivent dans cette jeune fille simple une personne en intelligence avec eux. Et, à chaque fois, cela embrase ses sens. Tandis qu'elle regarde à peine son mari, amoureux d'elle, qui lui construit des maisons comme autant de ventres où se lover ! (Translation)
Io Donna (Italy) discusses women in history:
Ma si chiamano anche Currer, Atton [sic] ed Ellis Bell, le donne di Cazzullo, e sono tre fratelli che in un anno pubblicano tre romanzi: Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey e Cime tempestose. Naturalmente, in realtà, si tratta di tre pseudonimi scelti dalle autrici perché i loro libri risultassero credibili. Era il 1847, penserete voi, i tempi sono cambiati: ma bisognerebbe chiedere al noto intellettuale di cui sopra se, oggi, leggerebbe un romanzo scritto da una tale Charlotte, Anne o Emily Brontë senza prima sentire il bisogno di “inquadrarla” attraverso il padre o il marito. (Chiara Gamberale) (Translation)
A new installment of the Brontës as fashionistas (!). According to The Carousel, Carla Zampatti's AW17 collection
evoked thoughts of a bygone era, think Cathy wandering the moors in Wuthering heights with a velvet cape billowing behind her, or Keira Knightley in the famous library scene from the film version of Ian McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ dressed in a slinky gold gown rather than the emerald green. A hint of period drama combined with her own modern stylish flair. (Bianca Spendlove)
A 'Dream Home in the English Countryside' in Vogue:
“It’s the perfect spot to build a house,” announced the realtor.
The idea horrified me. I didn’t have a grand design in me. And, in any case, I wanted to live in an old house, not a new one. The truth was, I was a bit of an old-house snob: Like many English people, I have always attached a great deal of romance and nostalgia to ancient buildings. A childhood spent in a medieval farmhouse, combined with an addiction to such novels as Wuthering Heights, Brideshead Revisited, and Rebecca, had given me the warped view that only old dwellings had atmosphere. (Plum Sykes)
Diario Vasco (Spain) interviews a local librarian who works towards promoting literature written by women and who's a fan of Jane Eyre. Newsminer announces the '26th annual Dead Writers Party' tonight, in which Emily Brontë herself could be one of the attendants. Infolibre (Spain) reviews Jane, le renard et moi.

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