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Spectator Play: The highs and the lows of what’s going on in arts this week

16 August 2013

16 August 2013

Normally, August is a rubbish time of year for films, as this week’s cinematic offerings prove. But, says Deborah Ross, there’s one release this week which is worth seeing, and that’s Kuma. An Austrian-Turkish project, it focuses on the life of Ayse, who is married off and moved to Vienna, where she finds that she’s actually been married off to the father of the person she thought she’d married – and as his second wife. It might all sound a bit confusing, but Deborah says it’s beautifully acted and ‘would shine bright at any time of year’, so I’ll hold her to her word.

What has happened to our television comedies? In recent weeks, the BBC have been busy hyping up their latest sitcom Big School, which features their favourite funny-man, David Walliams. But far from being entertained, Clarissa Tan was left unimpressed, unamused and even slightly depressed by the Beeb’s efforts.

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George Balanchine’s Jewels is perhaps a perfect example of Balanchine’s work, and a nirvana for his admirers. But, as Giannandrea Poesio points out, it’s rarely a sell-out show – unless, of course, the Bolshoi Ballet are dancing it. Yes, it has had a fairly comprehensive advertising campaign – but that alone can’t account for its success at the Royal Opera House. No, it’s the pure professionalism of the dancers which made people ‘gasp with excitement’ as soon as the curtain went up. Unfortunately it’s only on ‘til the end of this week – so catch them while you can.

Dame Janet Baker is one of the UK’s most legendary classical singers or, as Michael Kennedy puts it, ‘one of the greatest singers and singing actresses this or any other country has produced’. In this week’s magazine, he salutes her talent and the hard work she devoted to her career. Here’s a video of her receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award from Sir Peter Hall at the 2011 Gramophone Awards.

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