I Pagliacci

July 9, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

and Cavalleria Rusticana (Filmed at the Met, Northern winter, 2015) (screened in Adelaide, 8 July 2015) It’s more (squalid, proletarian) potboiler than verismo, but this time-honoured double bill of adulterous, hypocritical, homicidal southern Italians is, pardon the expression, impervious to the knife.  The Met, under baton of Fabio Luisi, is faultless, and the direction and cinéma vérité staging, after Sir David McVicar, is pretty good, albeit a little clunky (*QUIBBLE ALERT*).  Appropriately, ’twas the Met that first combined these two hardy perennials in 1893; a good idea that seems obvious in hindsight. The pieces are worthy but slight, crisp wafers soaked…

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The Curse of ”The Sound of Music”

(Dir. Robert Wise) (1965) We’re sorry, but we can only watch The Sound of Music in 15 minute increments.  Any more attracts a risk of type-two diabetes.  This cloying, sacchariferous, candied, 174-minute dollop of goo would have received one or less review stars from us, but for the superb cinematography, sweeping over and around the chocolate-box town of Salzburg and its surrounding mountains, and the overall production values, which are first-rate. The (bizarre and stupefying) success of both the stage musical and the film have led to endless revivals around the globe, the mawkish meld of Nuns, Nazis and warbling infants a seemingly irresistible combo.  We are…

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The Wagner Operas

June 18, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Non-Fiction, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

"Should be bigger...?" (Unveiling the Wagner Memorial in Berlin by Anton von Werner, 1908)

(Ernest Newman) This ‘earnest new man’ was a precise and authoritative Wagner enthusiast, but he stowed away gush and did not indulge in panegyric.  Newman certainly had the measure of Wagner the man (as his 12 cassette audiobook Wagner As Man and Artist shows). Yet his love and appreciation of Wagner’s work shines in this single-volume complete Opera companion, the kind of work to thoroughly research beforehand if you want to accentuate the payoff of seeing a Wagner, or to skim afterwards to clarify any nuance or symbol left opaque by a particular production.  As Newman says in his introduction, whilst “…a…

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Don Giovanni

May 31, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

"Tu a cenar meco?" (Painting by Fragonard; image by Rama)

(State Opera SA, 30 May 2015) TVC had only seen the disastrous ENO production but not this version which originally featured Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the Don.  What a relief to find staging and performances generally faithful to the 1787 work; in fact, superb staging, a simple hall, doubling as a courtyard, bounded by masonry with balconies (which, unfortunately, wobbled a little) but the simplicity of this setting, varied by good use of lighting, emphasized the pyrotechnics of the finale when the far wall collapsed to admit the Commendatore’s statue and a team of demons ferry the Don to the infernal regions (or…

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The Idyll

May 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, WAGNER |

Tribschen as Arcadia (photo by Josef Lehmkuhl)

(Ensemble Le Monde, Elder Hall, 29 May 2015) ELM gave us a varied programme, with Serenade in C Major for String Trio by Dohnányi.  Played in 5 short bursts, each part crowded with disparate moods, ideas and tones, this unfamiliar (to TVC) work is of great interest and showed the versatility of violin, viola, cello. During the soft, still moments, the cello acted almost as a harp. A larger portion of the ensemble gathered for Richard Strauss’ tone poem Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders!  TVC is willing to give Strauss points for his operatic and several symphonic works, but it is hard to underrate this one,…

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