Playing With Fire – Staging “The Ring”

July 12, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

[This article originally appeared in the Newsletter of the Richard Wagner Society of SA, # 282, July 2017] “When Art Meets Politics.” This was the essence of Dr. Peter Bassett’s text in a thoroughly entertaining and salutary talk to the Richard Wagner Society of South Australia on 18 June, entitled ‘Playing with Fire – the pursuit of a Wagner performance tradition in Adelaide 1995 – 2005’. President Geoffrey Siedel introduced Dr Bassett, who was uniquely placed to cover this topic, having completed a PhD on it, as well as being closely involved with the productions that comprised Adelaide’s Wagner Decade…

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Vale Jeffrey Tate

June 7, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Sir Jeffrey Tate (28 April 1943 to 2 June 2017) will be greatly missed. He died of a heart attack in Italy, after a lifetime dedicated to great music. Initially mentored by the ‘Screaming Skull’ (Georg Solti), he overcame profound disabilities to become one of the great modern conductors, appearing at Covent Garden and the New York Met, among others. He was principal conductor at Covent Garden, English Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, San Carlo Theatre in Naples, and the Hamburg and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. It was whilst he was in Adelaide that he conducted the first Australian Ring Cycle (1998) and he recently returned…

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May 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

At the Met (2013) (DVD 2014) “Laughter, cries of fury and howls of anguish rang out intertwined and tangled, blood flowed everywhere, nails dug bloodily into fat flesh. With a feeling of sorrow and depression Klingsor awoke for a few minutes. His eyes, wide open, stared at the bright gap in the wall. The faces of the embattled women still lingered, and he recognized and named many of them…in a hoarse voice, still caught up in the dream, he said: “Children, stop it! You’re lying you know, you’re deceiving me, you know; it’s not each other you should be tearing…

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Béla Bartok

March 25, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera |

Béla Bartok (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) only wrote one opera (as did Beethoven) but it was a beaut.  Bluebeard’s Castle (1918) was based on the grim fairy tale by Perrault about the Duke with skeletons in the cupboard (literally). It’s a timeless theme of wiles, deceit and blood-letting that has attracted our interest as a trope previously. In this operetta however, there’s no bloody chamber but a lot of nasty foreboding, atmospherics created almost solely by Bartok’s spiky music.  Instead of being a killer, he’s a collector.  His (apparently complicit) former wives have, according to Bluebeard, “gathered all my riches….

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Wagner by Michael Tanner


Science has proved that books on Wagner’s life and works would more than fill the Grand Canyon.  It is therefore necessary to be discriminating (in a good way) as to what reading matter on the Maestro you choose to buy, beg, borrow or steal.  Michael Tanner is a perceptive opera critic of good standing, an unapologetic Wagnerite, and his little book on the subject of Wagner’s work is a lucid and concise presentation of his views on Wagner’s raison d’être and the dimensions of his achievement. Despite tending to present difficult concepts in convoluted, laborious language (the hallmark of the professional philosopher,…

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