Kata Kabanova

January 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Palais Garnier. Image by P. Giraud

Palais Garnier (2 November 2004) A beautiful production of this sad tale of adultery and recrimination, with the set a series of flats that would be at home in The Bill, including an appropriately atrocious print of bison at a waterhole (just to rub in Kabanicha’s horrendousness) and leaf-swept patio – incongruous in the gilded truffle of this particular opera house.  Angela Denoke and Jane Henschel, as Kata and mum-in-law respectively, take on the white and black hatted key roles magnificently.  Peter Burian conducted.

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Dumbing Down Terracini

January 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA, MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, Ulalume |

Sydney Opera House (photo by Diliff)

Every artist has occasion to groan about critics.  Often it can amount to, in Verdi’s phrase, ‘stupid criticism, even stupider praise’, or argumentum ad hominem.  As Peter Craven observed in last weekend’s The Australian, much online content falls into these categories but in the current context, the artistic director of Opera Australia has taken the bait and been hooked like a bullfrog.  Diana Simmonds reports on her site Stage Noise that she was informed:      “In response to some of your recent writing about the company, Lyndon [Terracini] asked that you be removed from the media list.”   So what was Simmonds’…

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Aida

January 9, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

 (Opera Australia, Melbourne, December 2009) (DVD, San Francisco Opera, 1981) You can’t miss with this one, although it does play a little like a Pharaoh’s Royal Command Performance; numerous parades, for example.  This production touched all the staging bases, which it must, and then some, which you’d expect from Graeme Murphy. Well performed by all, particularly Warwick Fyfe as Amonasro.  Jennifer Wilson looked the part more than Margaret Price (who, while singing well, played Aida like a worried little thing in a cafe from ‘Neighbours’ in the 1981 San Francisco filmed production) and the gentleman playing Radames managed to avoid…

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Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan

December 22, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, Ulalume |

Image courtesy of Eddie

Christmas 2014 – and what have you done?  Gluttony, jealousy, wrath…getting drunk and falling down…presents, presents, presents.  P is listening to (& loving) his new vinyl (!) record, ‘Lost on the River: the new basement tapes’, featuring various artists adding melody and shape to some lyrics of Bob Dylan stuck in a drawer since 1967.  Best so far: ‘Down on the Bottom’, ‘Kansas City’, ‘Liberty Street’, ‘Florida Key’ and the title track (# 12).  Maybe a review in the fullness of time (at least 20 more listens first).  Abject lesson to all: don’t throw away your turntable!  Never discard your…

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Falstaff

December 11, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Opera Australia, Melbourne December 2014 To the claustrophobic scarlet pit that is Melbourne’s Arts Centre for Verdi’s take on Sir John, a rather broad and heavy handed work drawing mostly from the plonking Merry Wives of Windsor with only salted bits from the history plays. First done at La Scala in 1893, this is a radically economical opera in structure: no overture, no recitative, almost no arias; melodies that rattle along, into each other and most formalities discarded as it cuts to the Garter Inn without ado. Shakespeare’s Falstaff is big in every sense but here he is merely fat,…

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