Elvis and the Brummies

January 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC, Ulalume |

Birmingham Symphony Hall 31 May 2013 Yes, believe it or not, TVC stalked Elvis Costello to Birmingham to see his spectacular spinning songbook concert.  First, a morning stroll to sneak a peek at roadies setting up the wheel (which turns out to be somewhat incidental during the show) and then to while away some pleasant hours at the Art Gallery in the square – some very good pre-Raphaelites as well as post renaissance art, including an installation featuring a sheep alarmingly bearing human teeth;  St Paul’s embarkation by Lorrain; an excellent portrait of Prince Faisal by Augustus John; a bust…

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Ultra-kitsch

January 24, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume |

O tempora, o mores! Tosca’s taking up with fascists in the updated OA production (‘don’t cry for me, Mussolini, the truth is you can’t spoil Tosca…’).   Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in Paris last October, described by Jonathan Meades in the Spectator (Xmas 14) as “yet another of Frank Gehry’s exercises in outsize origami.”  Yet it would be hard to match, for sheer ugliness, the Centre Georges Pompidou. [Update note: The Times reports (September, 2017) that Richard Rogers, the man responsible for the Pompidou Centre, has criticized interventions by Prince Charles on additions to historic public buildings, calling the Prince “architecturally ignorant…[viewing…

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Don Giovanni

January 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, Ulalume |

Image courtesy of Barcex

English National Opera, London Coliseum (Autumn 2004) Oh Dear: what have we here?  Don Giovanni is driven on stage in a clapped-out Ford Consul (or something – not good on cars, TVC will use Pam Ayres’ phrase) and out spills Donna Anna and Don Giovanni, covering up their junk.  And downhill from there.  This Calixto Bieto production was touted as “Mozart meets Reservoir Dogs” .  It was more a case of ‘Salieri meets The Panic in Needle Park meets Cruising’.  David Parry conducted.  Eventually, some of the good bits floated back into our cerebral cortex, helped by wine chugged at…

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The Richard Wagner Society

January 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Modern Music, MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume, WAGNER |

Wagner laughing at himself

14 April 2014 The Richard Wagner Society of SA presented Timothy Sexton, Artistic Director of State Opera SA, to present the inaugural Brian Coghlan Lecture in honour of its Past President.  Sexton, who presented the Glass Trilogy in August 2014, was given the difficult brief of proving a link between Wagner and Glass, which he heroically did in an erudite and entertaining way, enlivened by musical examples.  Although TVC‘s response to the lecture’s sub text “Was Richard Wagner the first experimental minimalist composer?” is a resounding “No”, we are now prepared to water down that ‘narrow-minded’ position a tad. Wagnerites…

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The Barber of Seville

January 21, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Opera Australia) (2007) Another can’t-miss piece, perhaps the greatest opera buffa of all, with typical Rossini touches – beautiful young lady, thwarted passion, a nasty guardian, identity confusion and a comically manipulative mastermind – was staged by OA over the country in 2007. Rossini’s score is uneven but joyous, featuring many popular melodies (e.g. the smash cavatina Largo al Factotum Della Citta – “Figaro sù, Figaro giù! Figaro quà, Figaro la!”).  TVC saw the production in Melbourne (14/4/07), when there was last minute shuffling of the cast, Figaro being laryngeally inflamed, and replaced by his servant.  The key role of…

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