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Music revolution! Mozart. Rossini. Whatever next?

Jack H CDean10 June 2014

After learning about the unity that could be achieved at the opera at my last UCL Festival of the Arts event, I was keen to actually experience an aria or two and learn more about the art form that had so compelled Nietzsche.

I was in luck. Will Bowers (UCL English), dressed in two-tone brogues and a pin-stripe suit, like a 1920s mobster who happened to specialise in the opera culture of the romantic period, led the event. Excerpts were sung by Carl Gombrich (bass, Programme Director UCL Arts and Sciences) and Emily Tsui (soprano, second year undergraduate, UCL Arts and Sciences) and Bryan Solomon (UCL Information Services Division) played piano.

Mozart

Mozart

Bowers spoke with elegance and insight about all things 1780s-1820s opera culture. Opera was often performed with “no narrative. It was all about the virtuosity of the performer”. The audience would drink and gamble. The performers would riff and improvise melody and rehearsals were non-existent. Opera existed in a realm of miscellany and elitist debauchery.

It wasn’t until 1789 that the British opera began to shed the shaggy raiments of its past. The Haymarket theatre burnt to the ground and with Britain’s chief opera centre in cinders there was an opportunity for a rethink. The information explosion of the following decade helped in democratising debate and  in siphoning opera into mainstream culture. The opera was a “complicated machine” and Britain was on the verge of a cultural renaissance.

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Live poetry is something else

newseditor13 June 2013

imp09_Ester-Naomi-Perquin

Ester Naomi Perquin (Photo: Henk Brinkman)

pencil-iconWritten by Stefanie van Gemert, PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at UCL.

Over the past few weeks, I got to know someone special. It sparked off as an online encounter – an email trail about translations.

Her name is Ester Naomi Perquin, and she is an award-winning Dutch poet. I was invited to translate her work for the Contemporary European Poets series.

Translating someone’s poetry is a slightly schizophrenic experience. While weighing Ester’s words and analysing her work, I felt I was peeking into her brain, aligning my thoughts with hers. I quickly realised her poems were products of literary craftsmanship: with depth and a refreshingly humorous side to them, though often heavy in subject matter.

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Why UCL needs a Festival of the Arts, by Professor Jonathan Wolff

LaraCarim2 May 2013

UCL’s inaugural Festival of the Arts kicks off on Tuesday 7 May. For ten days, venues around campus will come alive with poetry readings, debates, film screenings, bite-sized lectures, exhibitions, and many more events designed to showcase the range and calibre of UCL research and creativity.

Listen to Professor Jonathan Wolff, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Arts and Humanities, explain what’s on offer and why we should put our hands together for the arts.

View the full programme and book your places on the UCL Festival of the Arts website.