Act III From “Meistersinger” – Mastered!

Come blow your horn

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act III, Adelaide, 4 August 2018. The ASO and State Opera triumph again!  Our slate is free of crosses!  A dramatic version of Act III of Wagner’s magisterial comedy was beautifully presented on Saturday night, with Nicholas Braithwaite and the ASO, having had about 5 minute’s practice, fully on top of Wagner’s complex, rich sonorities, polyphonic master-touches, and yes, humour, and humanity.  Whilst The Varnished Culture overheard one dowager claiming afterwards that Hitler used to turn up for Act III alone (to absorb the finale’s Message about the retention of Pure Germanic Art), we have always considered…

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Gawd Help Us

July 19, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | OPERA, Ulalume |

Their night of nights

The Helpmann Awards (Australia’s answer to the ‘Tony’) are named for choreographer, dancer, theatre director and ham-actor (think 55 Days at Peking (1963), and Patrick (1978)) Sir Robert Helpmann. Awards are a concept well past the use-by date, now rapidly putrefying.  Even so, it is stunning how they can go so wrong. We suppose that the readiness is all… Recently, 4 Helpmanns went to that giant piece of dreck, Hamlet – The Opera.  The Varnished Culture is on record about this faux-est of all faux operas, so we’ll just list the winners, without much further comment: Best male performer in an opera –…

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Meeting the Mastersingers

July 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

8 July, 2018 A very pleasant Sunday salon at the Hackett-Jones residence for the SA Wagner Society’s afternoon with some of the featured players from the forthcoming State Opera’s dramatic concert production of Act III of Meistersinger.  ASO french horn players Emma Gregan and Alex Miller gave us some nice pieces written for horn (by Brahms, of all people!)  These pieces were very easy on the ear, whilst apparently rather difficult to play.  Hearing them, one started to daydream of a tense afternoon tea with Wagner, Brahms, Cosima and Clara Schumann debating the role of music, perhaps with Eduard Hanslick…

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In Search of Wagner

The sentimental Marat

(By Theodor Adorno) (written 1937-38) (Rodney Livingstone translation) (2005) Whilst Adorno (1903 – 1969) was a thinker of wide learning and deep perception, here he is defeated by Wagner, as well as by his own Frankfurter-Marxist dogma and drab obsession with the dialectical. He’d love to dismiss RW as repulsive, dangerous, tin-eared, a Jew-baiter and Jew-hater, formless and, worst of all, bourgeois; yet a kind of intellectual honesty keeps creeping-back in to Adorno’s highly profound skull that undermines all of his grumbling. Wagner is not only sui generis; he is unimpeachable; Adorno’s brilliant attacks, often highly personal, fail utterly, proving…

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Cosi fan tutte

April 6, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, TRAVEL |

At the Metropolitan Opera, NYC, April 2018 – Mozart, the Met, and Spring in New York…what more could one wish for?  Some Spring weather, perhaps? Cosi Fan Tutte has the most preposterous plot in all opera, which takes in a lot of territory. But Mozart’s music rolls along so merrily that it doesn’t matter, and the piece can survive, and even be enhanced by throwing the switch to vaudeville, as director Phelim McDermott does here by re-imagining the action in 1950s Coney Island. Lucy and Desi and Ethel and Fred…ah, no, sorry, let’s start again: Ferrando (Ben Bliss) and Guglielmo…

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