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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Memoirs of Hector Berlioz

Like Wagner, Berlioz was a pain in the neck, a necessary pain, the kind reminding one both of life and mortality.  There is still no agreement as to how good he was and a lot of his work has Wagnerian length without the same depth. But check out his Faust, Trojans and Symphonie fantastique. This autobiography, painstakingly translated by David Cairns, (who has also produced a massive biography) shows the composer kicking like a mule to get ahead, to get his way, to get some recognition, in a France that has always been indifferent to him.  A great work even for…

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Lord Berners

(by Mark Amory) It’s not possible to know what made Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners tick, but everyone seemed to like him and his eccentric acts were mostly harmless; dyeing animals, driving around in grotesque masks, hiding under a bearskin rug to ‘fool’ tedious guests.  A soft spoken flower with a small but keen talent justifies this very readable and accomplished bio.  And remember, ‘Red roses blow but thrice a year, in June, July and May.  But those who have red noses can blow them every day.’  

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Annabel Lee, Miranda & Stevie

Annabel Lee, Miranda, Stevie, and Lesley (image by Stephen Reid)

Greetings and a warm welcome to  Lesley’s blog,  the part of The Varnished Culture which is girly, crafty and sort of ethereal.  Our muses are Stevie Nicks, Joyce Carol Oates  and Lily Cole.  Our poem is “Annabel Lee”  –  a poem by Edgar Allen Poe – Stevie  does an otherwordly,

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Bluesfest

(2014) Touted as Australia’s premier blues and roots festival, Bluesfest is really an eclectic gathering of the available great and good. The Varnished Culture only made Monday’s gig and a list of acts enjoyed will give you an inkling of the variety: Joss Stone, Michael Franti & Spearhead, War, KC & the Sunshine Band, Booker T Jones, the Beards, Chain and climactically, Elvis Costello & the Imposters. When Booker T recalled how young he was in 1962 when he wrote ‘Green Onions’, it occurred to the V.C. that he was not only older than most of the crowd but most…

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