Meistersingers of Melbourne

November 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

L-R: Daniel Sumegi as Pogner, Warwick Fyfe as Beckmesser, Andrew Jones as Nachtigall, Natalie Aroyan as Eva, Kanen Breen as Moser and Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs

Monday 19 November 2018 (Arts Centre, Melbourne) Royal Opera’s then house director, the notorious Kasper Holten, originally designed this production.  The Spectator’s Michael Tanner declared of the London version, “Nothing could prepare me for so deep an abyss of idiocy.”  We know what he means, but speaking personally, apart from some (very large) grumbles, we were not overly bothered by the sets or the “reinterpretation,” no doubt due to a combination of our own jaundiced lethargy and contempt. Also, Meistersinger is perhaps the only Wagnerian piece which is impervious to Regieoper, even when the Guild Hall in Act I is reconstructed…

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La Bohéme

November 23, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Melbourne, 20 November 2018 An interesting but not trouble-free evening at the Arts Centre for the virtually indestructible La Bohème. Pointlessly but harmlessly ‘re-imagined’ (by director Gale Edwards) to Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic, 100 years after the work is actually set, and not in Paris (the cast still sing incongruously in Italian – why not stage it in Rome and replace Benoit with Mussolini?). Sets were appropriately stark (the garret – it still looked like a garret to us, and the tollgate, replete with pretty and lethal snow falling outside) and lush (the Café Momus, looking more…

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Bohemian Rhapsody

November 5, 2018 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, Modern Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. Bryan Singer) (2018) If you don’t get a shiver down the spine during the opening scene of Bohemian Rhapsody, as we follow Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) onto the stage at Live Aid, you don’t deserve Freddie, or this terrific film – a goose-pimpling, foot-stomping bio-pic with heart. Yes, it follows the usual trajectory of ambitious boys putting their all into their music, despite evil managers and uncaring music company execs.  Yes, we know the story, and the film may not be entirely historically accurate, but like its namesake song, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.  Some…

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Look Now

November 4, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

COSTELLO.25

By Elvis Costello and the Imposters (2018) Elvis Returns! With a typically eclectic record containing hints and echoes of the grand past.  There’s a little spirit of Painted From Memory, Imperial Bedroom, and Mighty Like a Rose, but the material is still starkly new.  We’ve only had time for about 10 spins so far, but at this early stage, we particularly like his #me-too classic, “Under Lime,” about a louche, washed-up star waiting in the Green Room, which is both hip and wise, and witty. Likewise his re-working of “Unwanted Number” is terrific, and we love the melody of “Dishonour the Stars”…

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Swan of Catania: Bellini

November 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera |

Vincenzo Bellini (3 November 1801 to 23 September 1835) He had guts, and his guts killed him in the end.  But Bellini’s major works survive and flourish.  Wagner greatly admired his work, and he ought to know. La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) At the premiere in Milan, 6/3/1831, there was “not a dry eye in the house.” Norma  Not many composers would think to set an opera among a bunch of Druids.  Yet it works, with beautiful bel canto.

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