For Whom the Bell Rings

August 22, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, LIFE, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

August 2021: The Varnished Culture is gutted to learn that the Brisbane Ring Cycle set for October and November has been cancelled for the Second Time.  Due to the damn faux-plague. Opera Australia’s statement of 19/8/2021 followed its message to ticket holders the previous Tuesday: We’re sad to announce that all upcoming performances of the Ring Cycle and Aida in Brisbane have been postponed due to COVID travel restrictions.  This is hugely disappointing news, but we are committed to re-scheduling these spectacular productions so that the seven years of planning that has already gone into this project won’t go to waste….

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

March 4, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Opera by Benjamin Britten) (Directed by Neil Armfield) (Adelaide, 2 March 2021) “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” That’s what the impresario said about staging The Dream, one of Shakespeare’s wisest, wittiest and most surreal plays, full of beautiful poetry, but a nightmare to stage, invariably a disaster. Britten saw that it would make for better fare as a short opera, although the singing parts are eccentric (and the overall effect, flipping the switch to matinee vaudeville, appeasingly cartoon-like – Quoth Auden: “Dreadful! Pure Kensington”). So, here, is the set, but it is entirely apt for this production, a dappled…

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Wagner’s Parsifal

(The Music of Redemption) by Roger Scruton (2020) Some Brief Words From the Wise on Holy Communion “…it belongs to that class of myths which have been dramatised in ritual, or, to put it otherwise, which have been performed as magical ceremonies for the sake of producing those natural effects which they describe in figurative language. A myth is never so graphic and precise in its details as when it is, so to speak, the book of the words which are spoken and acted by the performers of the sacred rite.”* “It would indeed be impossible to devise a mystery…

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Sturm und Drang vs Screaming Jets

March 1, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

Richard Wagner Society of South Australia, Wake for Wagner, 23 February 2020 A slightly delayed soiree was held for the Master’s Death in Venice (13 February 1883) where we were entertained by helden-baritone Ian Vayne, veteran of many operas here and overseas (his repertoire is set out below).  He spoke of previous productions (including the unnerving experience of German directorial flourishes which forced him at one stage to wear alarmingly raised boots as the Dutchman, high as stilts but far less steady) and how the local ones only got off the ground due to determined and smart folks like Bill…

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John Wegner – Abschied

January 13, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

John Wegner AO (16 January 1950 – 17 November 2019) The great Australian Heldenbaritone, John was born in Germany and came to Australia at the tender age of 5.  He started working life as a teacher, but became involved in amateur musicals in his spare time. This led to a choral part in Meistersinger for Australian Opera, and he later joined the company (initially as a Bass) at the behest of Richard Bonynge. Eventually, he became a prominent Wagnerian, here and across Europe: inter alia, Klingsor in Parsifal,  Wotan in the 1998 Ring in Adelaide (and at Düsseldorf), Telramund in…

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