Der Freischutz

February 5, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Opera, THEATRE, Ulalume, WAGNER |

(By Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber, premiering in Berlin on 18 June, 1821) It is good news that Melbourne Opera staged this neglected gem not so long ago – bad news that TVC couldn’t get there to see it, and at the Athanaeum what’s more!  It was reviewed by Peter Burch in ‘The Australian’.  Quite daring when first staged in 1821, as much for the lower class characters as the ghostly theme that enchanted a young Wagner, Weber’s music is accomplished and highly accessible (touches redolent of Beethoven, and even, in overture, AIbioni) with effects used to great advantage, especially in the…

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The Richard Wagner Society

January 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Modern Music, MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume, WAGNER |

Wagner laughing at himself

14 April 2014 The Richard Wagner Society of SA presented Timothy Sexton, Artistic Director of State Opera SA, to present the inaugural Brian Coghlan Lecture in honour of its Past President.  Sexton, who presented the Glass Trilogy in August 2014, was given the difficult brief of proving a link between Wagner and Glass, which he heroically did in an erudite and entertaining way, enlivened by musical examples.  Although TVC‘s response to the lecture’s sub text “Was Richard Wagner the first experimental minimalist composer?” is a resounding “No”, we are now prepared to water down that ‘narrow-minded’ position a tad. Wagnerites…

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Ariadne & Theseus at the Mortlock Chamber

Picture courtesy of Dr Daniela Kaleva

To the Mortlock Chamber in the State Library of SA, to hear L’Arianna abbandonata e gloriosa and Lamento d’Arianna (1608), works reconstructed from Monteverdi’s fragmented scores, with solo voice and harpsichord, accompanied by the odd stage effect to evoke waves crashing on lonely Naxos, where (failed Argonaut) Theseus has parked Ariadne to show his gratitude for her help surviving the labyrinth on Minos. This paring away eschews the go-for-baroque approach that could overwhelm the purity of the harmonics, which are quite reminiscent of Purcell’s Dido pieces…

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Tristan und Isolde

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

Beware matchmakers.  Beware writing opera when in lust with Mathilde Wesendonck.  Beware love-of-death; it leads to the death of love, or death-porn.  Wagner must have seen himself as Tristan to Mathilde’s Iseult, Lancelot to her Guinevere, when he shelved the Ring and forged perhaps the most beautiful opera of all. T & I poses a number of problems.  Its staging should be spare yet lush.  It requires a measure of taste and discretion, for Wagner wrote this work while well-unzipped (he expected the work to be censored unless it was played as parody) and the material can stray dangerously near…

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Memoirs of Hector Berlioz

Like Wagner, Berlioz was a pain in the neck, a necessary pain, the kind reminding one both of life and mortality.  There is still no agreement as to how good he was and a lot of his work has Wagnerian length without the same depth. But check out his Faust, Trojans and Symphonie fantastique. This autobiography, painstakingly translated by David Cairns, (who has also produced a massive biography) shows the composer kicking like a mule to get ahead, to get his way, to get some recognition, in a France that has always been indifferent to him.  A great work even for…

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