Lohengrin

May 26, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Melbourne Arts Theatre, 21 May 2022) Lohengrin marked the end of Wagner’s ‘first phase’ and remains one of his loveliest operas, in musical terms (the overture alone is a gorgeous amuse-bouche)*. The story is, of course, very silly: Elsa (Emily Magee) is accused of doing away with her brother, heir to the Throne of Brabant, the charges levelled by nasty Telramund and his ‘handler,’ Ortrud (the very fine and sexy Simon Meadows and Elena Gabouri). King Heinrich (Daniel Sumegi) calls for divine intervention, and after some nervous foot-shuffling by the assembled knights, there, in a puff of swan feathers, is…

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The Dying Citizen

(By Victor Davis Hanson) (2021) This is a thought-provoking argument that the classical concept of citizenship (the essence of a democratic nation) as developed and refined from the Greeks, Romans, and ‘aristocratic’ revolutionaries, is becoming denuded of meaning or relevance, and that a new tribalism (subject to a new “balkanized spoils system“) is fast replacing it, per the convenience of the governing elites (on the divide-and-rule paradigm). The author ranges wide but without attenuation, contrasting citizens with peasants (we prefer the more colouful term ‘peons’), residents and tribes, and then showing how the very concept of American citizenship – necessary…

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The Slap

April 13, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, LIFE, Ulalume |

(28 March 2022) Black velvety tunics, At a gang-bang held for eunuchs, When a joke that tasted sour Brought a show of feeble power And the man who did disparage Proved the sham that was his marriage. He laughed, then quivered at the cold Of his woman’s eyes, and so he rolled On stage and did lash out; Returning to his seat, to shout. Such doglike devotion Gives the world a certain notion; Laud a neuter to the nation Or fix degrees of separation? ———————————————- [We’d rather read Chris Tsiolkas.]

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Nitram

March 28, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Untethered

(Directed by Justin Kurzel) (2021) Suspense need not be a mystery. Out of the so-called 7 plots, the dramatist’s art is to finesse the selected one. As with Shakespeare, it matters not that we know the ending. In Nitram (‘Martin’ backwards, as is Martin), the story (about Martin Bryant, going ‘postal’ in April 1996) is notorious. Here, the director creates an intimate, very private background to a very public tragedy, and does it with great depth of feeling and beautiful pacing. It is a small town saga (the south-east coast of Victoria standing in for Port Arthur, probably for political…

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The Power Broker

(Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) (by Robert A. Caro, 1974) That this brick of a book (well over a thousand pages) about public infrastructure is so compelling is due to, first, its traverse of key decades in the rise of America (1920s to the 1960s); second, the author’s awesome depth of research and keen grasp of his subject; and third, the subject himself: the most famous public official in New York (perhaps America), Robert Moses (18 December 1888 – 29 July 1981), a humanities man, without engineering qualifications, who yet singlehandedly matched the Pharaohs and the Romans in…

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