Girl’s Night Out

Simone Young and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Guests, Adelaide Town Hall, 9 August 2019 ***1/2 One can be ambivalent, even resentful about Richard Strauss, with his ‘stress-without-storm’ tone poems, dalliances with flaxen-haired girleens, Daddy-jokes, and general frivolity, even (and perhaps especially) concerning Nazis. Yet who could resist an evening of his pieces by the ASO conducted by Simone Young, featuring 4 great female singers, the romantic feminine being the essence of his oeuvre? The programme of works says it all: included were interludes from Intermezzo, Capriccio and Salome; snippets from Ariadne auf Naxos, duets from Arabella, and a selection from…

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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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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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18 AUGUST – COLLECTIVE BIRTHDAY CAKE

August 19, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, Classical Music, FILM, MUSIC |

18 August 1750 – Antonio Salieri His work has faded, leaving behind a (probably unfair) reputation of the poisoner of Mozart… 18 August 1920 – Shirley Schrift (Shelley Winters) The needy, blowsy slattern with a heart of gold and born to lose – Shelley’s specialty. Her great film moments: The Great Gatsby (1949), A Place in the Sun (1951), The Night of the Hunter (1955), The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), and especially Lolita (1962). 18 August 1933 – Roman Polanski His reputation has taken a battering of late, but he gets a plea in mitigation for films such as…

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Act III From “Meistersinger” – Mastered!

Come blow your horn

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act III, Adelaide, 4 August 2018. The ASO and State Opera triumph again!  Our slate is free of crosses!  A dramatic version of Act III of Wagner’s magisterial comedy was beautifully presented on Saturday night, with Nicholas Braithwaite and the ASO, having had about 5 minute’s practice, fully on top of Wagner’s complex, rich sonorities, polyphonic master-touches, and yes, humour, and humanity.  Whilst The Varnished Culture overheard one dowager claiming afterwards that Hitler used to turn up for Act III alone (to absorb the finale’s Message about the retention of Pure Germanic Art), we have always considered…

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