The Lily of the Valley Doesn’t Know

According to those who know these things, Friday’s colour is green which is surprising.  I was sure it would be black. Green and I have a troubled relationship.  When I was a child I learned that it is bad luck to wear green, or at least too much green,  because the fairies consider it to be their colour.  No-one wants to upset the fairies.  Oh.  No.  You do NOT want to upset the fairies. So I don’t wear green (olive doesn’t count).  You think I go to far?  Consider – one of the regular customers of the  pharmacy in which I worked while at…

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Lou Reed

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, Modern Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(2/3/42 – 27/10/13) “When Lou Reed sings, a child somewhere dies.”  This horrible statement, attributed to our good friend Matthew R, has a black truth in it (like all good and unfair epigrams).  Reed’s records were not for everyone and definitely not for children. Jewish, polysexual, extremely troubled as a youth (his parents committed him to shock treatment at a psychiatric hospital when he was 17) and artsy, he spurned the comfortable Long Island existence and devoted himself to his trade.  With some diversions, that is: incredibly, after the release of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, he was working as a…

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Tristan und Isolde

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

Beware matchmakers.  Beware writing opera when in lust with Mathilde Wesendonck.  Beware love-of-death; it leads to the death of love, or death-porn.  Wagner must have seen himself as Tristan to Mathilde’s Iseult, Lancelot to her Guinevere, when he shelved the Ring and forged perhaps the most beautiful opera of all. T & I poses a number of problems.  Its staging should be spare yet lush.  It requires a measure of taste and discretion, for Wagner wrote this work while well-unzipped (he expected the work to be censored unless it was played as parody) and the material can stray dangerously near…

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Tosca

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Callas wouldn't cop Spoletta

(Melbourne, 2010) What on earth were alleged professionals thinking with this? A set from Rebus or The Wire and a finale where Floria, rather than hurtle over the parapet, has her brains blown out by Spoletta? It is such textual vandalism that renders Joseph Kerman’s sneer (a ‘shabby little shocker’) as true. Grumbles with setting and textual vandalism aside, Nicole Youl was a fine leading lady and the incomparable John Wegner a formidable, ferocious and frightening Baron Scarpia.

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Der Ring Des Nibelungen

November 5, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, MUSIC, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

(Melbourne, 2013) As Barry Millington observed, it’s “the story of a man who buys a house and can’t keep up the payments.”  But it is so much more of course. The greatest music-drama yet concocted was staged by Opera Australia in late 2013, as well as could be done outside of one’s own head (save for Adelaide 2004). At the cycle’s end, you had the same feeling as when leaving the Sistine Chapel – that of awe and exhaustion. It was directed by Neil Armfield, conducted by Pietari Inkinen.  Kudos all round.

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