Brighton Festival, Various venues, Brighton
Giustino, Trinity College of Music, London

In Brighton, 'Giovanna d'Arco' was performed next to Anish Kapoor's sculpture of dismemberment

It must have been a noisy place, the mind of Joan of Arc. All those visions, all those voices, the tinnitus of celestial commands. From Schiller to Shaw, Tchaikovsky to Verdi, Anatole France to Marina Warner, the story of the 19-year-old patriot, visionary and virgin has fascinated artists and historians.

And, on Monday afternoon, while riot police and anti-war protesters fought in the pleasure gardens, two readings of the same legend collided in the crumbling concrete of Brighton's Old Municipal Market as Anna Grevelius and Chamber Domaine performed Rossini's Giovanna d'Arco from among the blood-red body-parts of Anish Kapoor's Dismemberment of Jeanne d'Arc.

Written for mezzo-soprano and piano in 1832, for private performance by the celebrated courtesan Olympia Pélissier (later to be Rossini's second wife), Giovanna d'Arco celebrates the tomboy heroine of France in limpid, moon-bathed whispers and defiant fioritura. The flames invoked are not those of the stake but those in the eyes of the Angel of Death, for this is Joan on the eve of battle, devout but untried, "a lamb among lions". Orchestrated by Salvatore Sciarrino in 1989, in Rossini's favoured rose and violet timbres, the gran scena's pathos is intensified. A dove-like flute (Anna Wolstenholme) answers Giovanna's plangent questions, a jubilant clarinet (Duncan Prescott) cheers her on through the victory cabaletta, while the bassoons and cellos press and push below, warning of retribution.

It is a measure of Rossini's sophistication that the pity of Giovanna d'Arco works independently from the listener's knowledge of the violent end that awaited Giovanna. Youth and bravery are what touches, and Grevelius's faultless performance – first gently insinuated then incendiary – captured these qualities. Singing from a white scaffold, with the players and conductor Thomas Kemp below, the pure-toned ingénue was a startling contrast to Kapoor's five-part installation: two severed limbs, two conical mounds of igneous rubble, a deep, oval void hacked into the floor; brutal centrepiece of Brighton Festival's sculpture trail and the "after" to Rossini's "before". This is Joan the victim of sexual mutilation: her womb eviscerated, her breasts sliced off, the femininity concealed beneath her armour laid bare and bloody. It didn't happen. Though 15th-century executions operated on the more-is-more principle, her body was burned twice to avoid leaving relics, her ashes scattered in the Seine, her story left open to centuries of interpretations.

There was more girlish vulnerability in Kate Royal's lunchtime lieder recital at the Pavilion Theatre, and another violent death. Schumann's Maria Stuart Lieder progresses from the poignancy of the young queen's "Abschied nach Frankenreich", through the urgency of "An die Königen Elisabeth" and on to the resignation of "Abschied von der Welt" and the final, austere playout of "Gebet". In this, as in Brahms's blanched and bitter "Anklänge", in the exuberant birdsong of "Nachtigallen schwingen" and in the wild lovers' metaphors of "Wie die Wolke nach der Sonne", pianist Christopher Glynn's sensitive voicing and nimble articulation were as impressive as Royal's expressivity. Hers is a generous, open, frank voice that sounds as though it could burst into laughter or tears at any second – and she's a persuasive storyteller.

Save for the Takács Quartet's assured and well-contrasted programme of Haydn, Bartók and Schumann at the Brighton Dome, this has been a week dominated by youthful heroics. In the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich, there was a double dose: that of Giustino, the bear-battling, monster-murdering shepherd-turned-soldier of Handel's 1737 opera, and that of Trinity College of Music Baroque Orchestra, which made its debut in Olivia Fuchs's production, coached and led by baroque violinist Walter Reiter, and conducted from the harpsichord by Philip Thorby.

Long dogged by its runt-of-the-litter reputation among London's conservatoires, Trinity fielded a stylish ensemble, with vividly varied articulation, tone and phrasing from the violins, a delectable trio of recorders (Emma Williams, Julie Dean and Alice Clarke), and an alert and characterful continuo double-bass (Jan Zahourek). Ellan Parry and Johanna Town's production and lighting designs conjured Constantinople's seashore and imperial palace from little more than scaffolding and a scrunch of plastic sheeting, sending miniature battleships speeding across the nave on pulleys and concocting a sea-monster from two giant lobster claws.

Fuchs mobilised her whooping cast of clowns, cleaners, sailors, princesses and political predators through Wren's handsome aisle and galleries. The lack of surtitles (too expensive) proved advantageous as the singers worked overtime to convey the emotional roller-coaster of military machinations, romantic intrigues and improbable perils in song and gesture. This was an infectiously charming, energetic show, with some notably poised singing from young soprano Zoe Bonner (Arianna) and her mezzo sidekick Georgina Murray (Leocasta). Daniel Roddick's feline Amanzio, Peter Kirk's athletic Vitaliano and Matthew Kellett's Polidarte played for maximum laughter, Helena Daffern worked the boy-girl travesto thing as Anastasio, while Cara Curran's shy, bespectacled, valiant Giustino handled her heavy, glossy contralto voice with the half-excited, half-terrified air of a learner driver at the wheel of a very large car.

Festival to 24 May (01273-709709)

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss