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Focus section 209
Hywel Dix reviews WNO's Jeptha
Carl Lavery on National Theatre Wales's The Persians



Curious Bedfellows: gay marriage debate in Wales - Mike Parker

To those of us whose politics were forged in the volcanic heat of the 1980s, it is a shock to find legislation on gay equality emanating from a Conservative-led government. We were used – and, it must be said, all too comfortable – with the idea of the Tories as ‘the nasty party’, who outlawed ‘the promotion of homosexuality’ as if it were a washing powder. That the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill arrived with such firm support from the Tory front bench seemed like an upending of the natural order of things...

Losing Out to a Dancing Dog - Anthony Brockway

Landscapes, both internal and external, feature prominently in this batch of musical releases. We find Martin Rossiter, for instance, languishing in a Slough of Despond. Without ever wholly extricating himself from the quagmire, the Welshman does at least manage a defiant fist-shake at a cruel world. This takes the form of ten, world-weary piano compositions comprising The Defenestration of St Martin (Drop Anchor)...

Lacuna – An Exploration of Memory and Photography - Sara Rees

Among the entire collection of my family’s photo albums, there is only one image of the house in which I grew up. The brightness of the grass in the foreground and the depth of the shadow the house casts suggest a sunny day, or rather one of those days when, despite the brightness, one cannot discern the sun. The horizon, too, is missing, the sea indistinguishable from the sky. Similarly unseen in this picture is the pair of windows, like eyes, peeping out from the roof and staring out across the vanished sea from my bedroom in the attic...

A Human Menagerie: Lulu by Alban Berg (Third Act completion by Eberhard Kloke) - Steph Power

Alban Berg’s Lulu is one of the most significant operatic masterpieces in the entire genre – a hugely ambitious, complex work of ravishing beauty, absurd black humour and utterly bleak tragedy. The opera is as notorious for its paradoxes and flaws as for its technical challenges, and for the fact that Act Three lay unfinished at Berg’s premature death in 1935 (the music having been composed but with much still to be orchestrated). Friedrich Cerha made a completed version from Berg’s manuscripts, but it was not until 1979 that the entire work was premièred after the death of Berg’s widow Helene, who withheld the third act after Arnold Schoenberg and others turned down the task of finishing it – and perhaps, too, she was nervous that publication might expose her husband’s affair with Hannah Fuchs-Robettin, as Berg’s scores were known to be saturated with personal, coded references...

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