René Burri Retrospective 1950-2000
Manchester Art Gallery until 12 November
From the Suez crisis and the Korean War, to Vietnam and Tiananmen Square, René Burri was seemingly on location for almost every major political, cultural and historical event in the second half of the 20th century. Much of his work captures the responses of ordinary people, soldiers, refugees and young people to their surroundings. His scenes of street life in Brazil are rich, expressive and naturally shot. Burri was clearly interested in the possibility of change and looked to the diversity of peoples from across the world to find its spirit. Overall, this exhibition is a gift to anti-capitalist activists, because it pulses with the same life and vibrancy as our movement.
David Swanson and Rob Jackson
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Royal Opera House, London until 17 October
Richard Jones’s production of Dimitri Shostakovich’s operatic masterpiece, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, has been revived as part of the celebrations of the Russian composer’s centenary.
First performed in 1934, it was the climax of his early experimental modernism, influenced as he was by the great artistic rejuvenation that flourished in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Lady Macbeth tells the story a of 19th century provincial wife driven to adultery and murder by the boredom and emptiness of her life.
Its music has great richness, containing both sensual and lyrical elements but also dramatic power and satirical bite with the mocking of authority figures such as the police chief.
Richard Jones’s production is lively and imaginative, with sets that strongly evoke the drabness of 19th provincial life.
There are outstanding performances, especially by Eva-Maria Westbroek as Katerina Ismailova (Lady Macbeth), but also by John Tomlinson as her father-in-law, John Daszak as her husband and Christopher Ventris as her lover. The orchestra under Antonio Pappano’s direction is assured.
Directed by David Farr
Lyric Hammersmith, London www.lyric.co.uk
After tackling such classics as Romeo and Juliet and Georg Buechner’s Woyzeck, Icelandic theatre company Vesturport are staging Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
Together with director David Farr, they have devised a quite innovative take on the story of a man’s transformation into a giant beetle, involving a tilted set, rope climbing and a bit of trampolining.
Set to music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, this is a physically and visually interesting production.
Although containing autobiographical elements - Kafka struggled with ill-health for most of his life - Metamorphosis also evokes a sense of doom and impending chaos in the wake of the First World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.