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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“Give us a Boating Tune, Fred!”

July 17, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, HISTORY, MUSIC |

17 July, 1717: Handel’s “Water Music” is played on the Thames for King George I.  He went for Baroque on the river. As Michael Steen* points out, the story that Handel “tried to regain the King’s favour by serenading him, uninvited, is untrue: the music was written later.”  Handel had to work at self-selling of course, who does not? But his success was surely due to his prolific output of dramatic effects and ingenious musical structures. For a man born (23 February 1685) in Halle, Handel became the quintessential composer for the English.  His Zadok the Priest became the coronation…

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Listen to This

July 10, 2018 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Classical Music, MUSIC |

We’ve recently ploughed (and sloshed) through a very sub-par biography of the great Ludwig van Beethoven – rather than trouble with that, listen to this instead:

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