CriticalDance Forum

Will the Internet Keep Critics Honest?
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Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:34 am ]
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He wrote: “Though Steele is almost invariably described as a ‘much-loved entertainer’, I have never met anyone (with the exception of this show’s producer, Bill Kenwright) who admits to liking him, let alone loving him.”

He repeats an idle bit of showbiz legend - that when Steele appeared in Singin’ in the Rain at the Palladium, he was so disliked by the backstage crew “that they would regularly urinate into the water tanks that were to rain down on to Steele’s head during his performance of the show’s title number”. Whether that’s substantiated or not or just an apocryphal anecdote, he then takes great glee in declaring, “I fear this review is about to perform the verbal equivalent”.

Egad! One would think the above should be substantiated before appearing in print.

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:50 am ]
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This isn't ballet, though the use of a swan as an offensive weapon takes it close; the actor was (rightly in my opinion) sacked. Personally I don't think any performer has the right to assault/intimidate an audience member or critic, very likely this would have ended in an ABH (actual bodily harm) prosecution in the UK and probably the animal rights groups would have demonstrated in force over the killing of animals onstage.

Having said that I enjoyed the scene in the French film "The Last Metro", set in wartime France where Gerard Depardieu beats up a critic in a restaurant. As the critic in question was both a collaborator and an anti-Semite, I felt he got what he deserved. Although it's cinematic justice to give the bad guy what he deserved, this poor German critic in the link below was only doing his job.

Any comments?,,13509-2053365,00.html

Author:  djb [ Thu Feb 23, 2006 1:16 pm ]
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I'm surprised that the beheading of rabbits onstage (described in the article in Cassandra's post, above) was ever allowed to happen onstage in Germany, seeing as Germany has guaranteed animal rights in its constitution.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Jul 07, 2006 3:39 am ]
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An opera fan believes that music critics and editors are unfair in ignoring B-casts, even when they give more satisfying performances:

Second best
By Marcel Berlins for The Guardian

What a great fuss was made over the fact that the difficult Romanian diva Angela Gheorghiu was coming to the Royal Opera House to sing Tosca in a brand new production. And what a disappointment she turned out to be.....there was a "second cast", insultingly known in the trade as the B-cast, with Tosca sung by an American, Catherine Nagelstad, of whom I had not previously heard. She was terrific in every way.

click for more

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Jul 07, 2006 5:20 am ]
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The answer to this is simply that press nights are always for first casts at the opera (and usually the ballet too), by the time the second cast comes around the critic/reviewer is probably off attending another press night elsewhere: the writer of the article should know this.

I agree that first night performances aren't always performed by the best casts, particularly in the ballet, but dates for press tickets are not always negotiable.

In my experience opera critics are even less reliable than ballet critics and opera fans frequently tone-deaf. True Ms Georghiu doesn't possess the voice of a fog horn, but she was the most ravishing Tosca I've ever seen and her voice is one of the loveliest to be heard on opera stages today.

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Jul 27, 2006 10:37 pm ]
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Actually, music critics and fans are probably worse than opera critics and fans... maybe because everyone thinks they know enough music from simply listening to them? :wink:

Author:  chester [ Thu Aug 10, 2006 7:50 am ]
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Listening to whom, Azlan? I think that I agree with you, but I do not understand what/who the antecedent of "them" is/are?

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Aug 10, 2006 7:23 pm ]
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Ah, typing too fast again. I meant "maybe because everyone thinks they know enough music from simply listening to it?"

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:45 am ]
Post subject:  Critic attacks web users

I am duplicating here a post I made on the thread about the Ross Stretton resignation, which has sprang back to life since an interview with Stretton has been posthumously published.

Ismene Brown, the Telegraph's critic, has taken it upon herself to defend Deborah MacMillan by attacking on-line posters: ... ton120.xml

The comments seem aimed at another web site rather than this one, but there is a degree of irony in the fact that the "American web head" that she singles out, is actually far more knowledgeable about the art of ballet than is Ms Brown.

It seems the debate of the last few days has touched a nerve.

Ms Brown's comments deserve some debate, In my opinion.

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 5:25 am ]
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Here in the USA, we have a MAJOR issue of the divide between "professional" critics (e.g., reviewers that work for a major media outlet) and the increasing amount of reviewers who post their reviews on weblogs (aka the bloggers), which tend to favor more general public taste. A great example of this divide was the reaction to the television series Arrested Development: the "professional" critics loved the show, while the general public for the most part disliked it because its complicated storytelling made it difficult to watch (you only appreciated the show by watching the episodes straight through on a full-season DVD release set).

As such, Ms. Brown's criticism of the online community does not surprise me, trying to protect her reputation as a "professional" reviewer.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:29 am ]
Post subject:  "Criticism can be a grubby profession" - too right

I found this very timely article in today's Guardian which seems to suggest that critics may soon become a thing of the past. ... 08,00.html

In fact, online comment is responsible in two different ways for the new resistance to professional critics. The first is that the spread of the web means that a cruel early review can have national or even global impact far beyond the range of the site on which it appears. Secondly, publicists now gamble that blogging and fan site comment may create a kinder environment for new releases than members of the Critics' Circle. In theatre, the Nimax group, owner of five London playhouses, is planning to survey theatre-goers and use their comments on the website instead of those grouchy newspaper guys.

This seems to bear out what Sacto7654 says about the professional/amateur divide in the US.

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:54 am ]
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What started to happen when the public Internet became widely available from the middle 1990's on was that non-professional reviewers started to post their reviews of movies and any arts performance often just hours after the show was completed. And these reviews frequently included people who attended world premiere and performances designed specifically for the press that showed up online long before we saw the review from "professional" reviewers in the newspapers or newsmagazines.

A legendary example of this is Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News website, which often posted the type of "amateur" review I mentioned above since 1997, much to the consternation of the movie studios. Today, Catherine Pawlick of this forum often posts reviews of Mariinsky Theatre ballet performances sometimes just a few hours after the performance at the theater! :D

In short, we are living in a world of de-massified media (as author Alvin Toffler defines it) where anyone with a decent Internet connection can post reviews often way faster than any "professional" reviewer.

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:53 pm ]
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And that's the way it should be I think.

I very rarely lend any merit to the "professional" reviews (there are a few exceptions). Maybe because I have met too many critics and seen how petty and self-serving they can be (again, exceptions exist). I feel a pro critic should be as objective as any other journalist. Maybe that's just me. Too many of the critics I have met and read let their personal relationships and pasts color their reviews too much.

That being said, one of my favorite things to read is a well written review of something the critic truly hated. They get so creative with their language when they're really disgusted.

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:30 am ]
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My all-time favorite review was Brooks Atkinson's review of the play <i>I Am a Camera</i>:

"No Leica".

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:39 am ]
Post subject:  The thoughts of Clement Crisp

The following was published in the Guardian while I was in Madrid (many thanks to the Criticaldance lurker who alerted me to this). ... rt.culture

Comments from a number of Critics are recorded here; scroll down for the thoughts of Clement Crisp who says:

It's often totally inaccurate and very much at the whim of irresponsible feelings.

No, it is not inaccurate. One of the joys of the Internet is that if an error is made (not that often) it is instantaneously corrected by another poster.

“The whim of irresponsible feeling”? For Crisp to have the nerve to say that really is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

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