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

31 May 2013

4:49 PM

31 May 2013

4:49 PM

Christopher Purves began his musical career playing doo-wop and rock and roll with the band Harvey and the Wallbangers . These days however, the stages of Glyndebourne and La Scala are his new stomping ground. In this week’s magazine, Julian Flanagan chats to the baritone about his transition from pop to opera, the pivotal events of his opera career, and the ambitions he has yet to fulfil. In his latest role, Purves plays Walt Disney in Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at the ENO, which has proved to be a physical challenge for the singer. But ‘I’ve never gone for the easy life’, he tells us. His career path so far certainly corroborates that statement.

In 1994, Neil Jordan staked his claim on the vampire genre with the star-studded film Interview with the Vampire, and he’s revisited the gory theme in this week’s film, Byzantium. But, says Deborah Ross in her review,whereas that was rather camp, this takes itself wholly seriously’. So seriously, in fact, that Deborah ‘wanted to send it to its bedroom with the instruction it could only come down again when less sulky’. Perhaps it’s the proliferation of vampire films that’s the problem, but ‘I hope this is the last I see of vampires for quite a while’, she says.

Watching Britain’s Got Talent with his kids is bad enough, says James Delingpole in his television column this week, but Russell Howard’s Good News is where he draws the line. ‘The man has no comedic or satirical insight that might render his commentary even remotely amusing’, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, his politics don’t seem to have progressed from ‘the Middle-Class Student Wanker’s starter pack’. If you want to see for yourself exactly what Delingpole’s talking about, here’s what Howard had to say on gay marriage:

Our lead item in this week’s arts section is an interview with Simon Thurley, the head of English Heritage. A very English man with ‘a very big job’, Thurley ‘s job is to preserve as much of our nation’s heritage as possible – or at least to advise the government on how best to do that. But although his work involves dealing with ancient monuments, it doesn’t mean he’s stuck in the past. English Heritage and the BBC united to make a BBC4 series earlier this year. Called Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past, it covers some of the same ground as his new book, which pays tribute to the men he believes rescued Britain’s cultural heritage from the onward march of modernisation. Here’s a clip from the programme:

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