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John Tomlinson as the Minotaur in Harrison Birtwistle’s opera is mesmerising bringing the half-bull-half-man monster of Greek legend to life, a living legend himself. One of the world’s greatest operatic basses, the First Night of the revival was also his 35th anniversary singing on the Royal Opera House stage. Famous in his innumerable roles as the Commendatore, Boris Godunov, Gurnemanz, Hans Sachs and Wotan, it was his Hagen in Götterdämmerung which inspired Birtwistle to write The Minotaur as a vehicle for his masterly vocal technique and acting skills. After tumultuous applause he was presented with a huge cake and praised most especially for his faultless diction by the Director of Music Antonio Pappano and the way he always brings out the animal in every character! “Whenever I hear that music start I feel frightened” said John as his face, hands and feet were being made up before the performance, because of the journey he’s got to go on. It’s a huge role, physically demanding and vocally challenging in a way no opera singer has ever had to cope with before, as he is the principal character for the whole opera trapped inside a full head and shoulders bull-head mask and hairy body suit. But be amazed, for his diction is phenomenal. When in the Minotaur’s dreams he becomes human and sings as a man, you hear every word as he pours out his inner anguish and it harrows you: “Locked in this body, this pelt this neither-nor, locked in my cage with no key … I’m lost in myself, I look through the eyes of the beast to find the man.” You are made to feel for this monster who becomes almost perversely compelling. Most extraordinary in his bull state are his roars in the bullring at the centre of the Labyrinth as, goaded to the kill by the crowd and the banging of on-stage timpani, he tries to articulate in human speech his name ‘Asterios’ AHHSEOOS (in the score), ‘Man-beast’ AHHHN EHHHSSS, ‘Hunchback … man-freak’ HUUUHBAHH … MAHHH FHREEE, ‘Son of the bull’ SAHHHN AHH EHHH HNUHHLL ‘from the sea’ FRAHHN NEHHH SAAAHHH, (roars) NUUAAAAARGH! No hope after that for the victims, the yearly tribute of Athenian ‘innocent’ boys and girls paid to King Minos in Crete to be sacrificed to the Minotaur in the Labyrinth.There are 3 ritual killing scenes, the first a lone girl gored and raped, the duet of her cries and his roars unique in all opera, then the carnage of lust and murder of the rest, and finally his own killing by Theseus to end the tribute, his death-aria reminiscent of that of Tzar Boris in Boris Godunov, which Birtwistle looked at while composing the opera.

13 images shot by Malcolm Crowthers for FACADES


With the death throes comes a deft surprise touch, a turn for the worse, as the scraping of guiros ingeniously evokes death rattles and announces the coming of the demonic Keres, terrifying harpy like women beating their tattered wings on the ground as with ravenous shrieks and screams of ‘Blood blood’ they claw out with their talons the dripping hearts for a feast of gore. The extreme violence both visually and musically is electric with intensity and horror both in the revival conducted by Birtwistle specialist Ryan Wigglesworth, whose NMC Birtwistle orchestral disc Night’s Black Bird won a 2011 Gramophone Award, and in the superlative 2008 world premiere DVD by Antonio Pappano. Used to conducting Puccini, Wagner and Verdi, Pappano skilfully rachets up the tension to each killing scene, implicit in David Harsent’s terse poetic libretto and Birtwistle’s score, proving the composer a master of pacing both of drama and orchestral colour, and The Minotaur to be a 21st century opera classic deserving performances everywhere.The other principal four cast are exemplary as they were in the 1998 premiere and DVD, with Christine Rice and Johan Reuter returning as Ariadne and Theseus, countertenor Andrew Watts as the bizarrely riveting Snake Priestess with huge bare breasts and tits rocketed up out of the floor to jabber 5 metres high at full throttle, and Alan Oke replacing the late and much lamented Philip Langridge as the priest Hiereus. It is a great night in the theatre. It is grand opera in the grandest sense of the word, very strong, very special, powerfully staged by director Stephen Langridge and designer Alison Chitty. Birtwistle writes from the heart, big structures, beautiful arced melodies. Dark, violent and intense like his early Punch and Judy, it is magnificently melancholy, forcing you to focus on the bestial side of human behaviour. The opening of Dowland’s song “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” subtly pervades the score, like the doom laden clang of the cimbalom. The music falls downwards whenever there is a descent, and in the most haunting of its orchestral Toccatas a twisting winding melody on strings evokes Theseus journeying with the ball of string down through the treacherous Labyrynth to kill the Minotaur. John Tomlinson has an unnerving ability to bring out the pathos and deep anguish of this poor ‘half and half’. Seeing it from the Minotaur’s point of view is a stroke of genius. Like the Minotaur himself, John Tomlinson’s performance could well become legendary and is superbly captured on the ROH Opus Arte DVD, the World Premiere Recording, conducted by Antonio Pappano, a must for all who saw it or missed it.

Zoe Jordan AW13-14 @ London Fashion Week

filmed by JEJ for FACADES

Zoe Jordan ‘Foundations’ 

In her fifth collection, up and coming designer Zoe Jordan has been successful in creating a great overall ‘look’; one that is both classical (a largely muted color palette, Savile row inspired tailoring) and modern (photographic prints, androgynous). Equally they are pieces that could hold their own when taken out of the context of a collection. Jordan’s inspiration reveals itself in subtle, and often, simply beautiful references to modernist, post-modernist and italian baroque architecture: She has an obvious understanding and clear vision of a modern woman she wants to dress. 

Die Feen for Richard Wagner's Anniversary in Leipzig

Photo Credits: Kirsten Nijhof for Oper Leipzig
Composed in 1833  Wagner's first complete opera remained un performed in his lifetime. On the occasion of the bicentennial celebrations we decided to focus on the power of the music and how it can stimulate our imagination.
After a Saturday family diner with his wife, sons, their wives and his two sisters in law, a father goes to his living room to listen to a live radio broadcast of the rarely performed opera , "Die Feen" from the Leipzig Oper.
The emotion vehicled by the music has the power to disinhibit the listener who projects himself into the characters. Enraptured by the music the gentleman starts to sing the role of Arindal and lives through the many adventures of his character while his wife, not an opera fan, leaves him to go to the gym. The apartment becomes this giant playground  and transforms itself into the many locations the storyline requires until husband and wife are reunited at the end of their evening. The production is a gathering and a bond in between the modern world  we live in,  the romantic 1830's of Wagner's time and the Middle age that was such an inspiration for him. In the intimacy of our own home we can all become a knight and our flat may transform into a magic garden or castle .

André Barbe & Renaud Doucet


21 yr old designer Sade English has simply shown us her strong potential to be one of the next big names in London Fashion today.

Well Done and here's wishing you all the best Sade!

We look forward to seeing all your collections to come with excitement.

(filmed by JEJ for FACADES)

The limited edition pieces are inspired by and consist of elements taken out from the traditional Islamic architecture and Samurai armour. The shapes, outlined in each garment, are similar to the shapes that could be seen in mosques.

Architectural futuristic outlook on design and garment constructivism, in a combination with historic art and dark gothic elements within her pieces, end up creating her signature style. 

A mixture of past and future elements. Japanese armour alongside the surrealistic, reminiscing the trompe-loeil technique elements gives the pieces the unexpected alien and futuristic look. 

The fabrics used are nylon, polyester and pvc, which complements the qualities in each fabric. The detailed textured polyester creates a unique and at the same time decorative technique element to the pieces. Her designs are exuded with precision and have a perfectionism polish.

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