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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Wagner Returns (in shimmering gold and black)

November 3, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

Wagner Gala, Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, 2 November 2019 TVC descended on gloomy, beautiful Hobart for the much awaited return of Nina Stemme, currently the world’s greatest soprano (only the 2nd person to be awarded the Birgit Nilsson Prize, for those for whom awards matter), with the great bass baritone John Lundgren, who gave us a night of selected Wagnerian hits in concert format. Stemme made a big splash in Hobart in 2016 singing excerpts from Tristan und Isolde with Stuart Skelton. No Tristan this time unfortunately, but the programme was ideally suited to the leads: The Wotan and…

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Girl’s Night Out

Simone Young and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Guests, Adelaide Town Hall, 9 August 2019 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 Der…

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Die Walküre at the Met

July 3, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

[Film of production directed by Gary Halvorson, screened in Adelaide June/July 2019] Wagner’s most human work in the Ring cycle, the hub of the wheel, a pivotal moment when the increasingly out-of-kilter world of gods gives way to the chaos of man. We have described The Valkyries in more detail elsewhere, so we turn without further ado to this excellent film of the performance at the Met in NYC in March 2019, based on the original 2011 production. ‘The Machine’ is back: a spidery bundle of rectangular rods, like giant railway sleepers, that spin and flutter to address the comparatively…

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Kosky Blows His Magic Flute – And it’s a Catastrophe

March 2, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Directed by Barry Kosky, Festival Theatre, Adelaide, 2 March 2019) A filthy hot early autumn, Adelaide buzzing with stock car racers; construction blocking easy access to the Festival Theatre, its bars cash-free to absolve staff from learning to do sums in their heads; refugee photos on the gallery walls; no paper towels in the men’s to conserve resources (you use a dodgy blower the size of a cigarette packet – wonder what is available in the ‘female and unisex’ facility?) and a sweaty, sun-burnt matinee crowd, applauding every number performed by the ‘B’ team – What else could one add…

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