Palais Garnier

January 5, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, OPERA, Uncategorized |
The_Opera_House,_Paris,_France_ca._1890-1900

This superb example of Beaux Arts neoclassical Opera House was inaugurated on this day, 5 January, in 1875. Charles Garnier’s design is splendid, even more so when one appreciates that it was despised and detested by that box-building fraud Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier).           The Varnished Culture has only seen one production there, but it was well worth it: Kata Kabanova. Such a bleak and shabby piece may have seemed incongruous but your correspondent, amid Parisian dowagers rattling their jewelry, was untroubled by the surrounding sumptuousness.           The decorative figures adorning the main façade include bronze…

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Carmen (Opera di Roma)

November 19, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
CarmenPoster

2017, Opera di Roma Border Control, Under the Volcano and Breaking Bad meet in this production of Opera di Roma, disastrously staged & directed by Valentina Carrasco.  Of which more later, but whilst any dumb directorial decision cannot defeat Carmen, it may nevertheless diminish it somewhat. Set impressively in the Roman Baths at the Terme di Caracalla (one was reminded of pop concerts at Red Rocks), the music stood out, with conductor Jesús López-Cobos content to let it do its own work in the main, and the leads in fine voice.  Veronica Simeoni is a fine exemplar of Bel Canto, although she…

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“Once More, With Feeling”

November 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |
Statue of Hans by Johann Konrad Krausser (photo by T. Voekler)

Statue of Hans by Johann Konrad Krausser (photo by T. Voekler)

Hans Sachs (born 5 November 1494, in Nuremburg), was an early version of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Carole King, Elvis Costello, all the great songsmiths and wordsmiths of popular music. Thing is, he did it solely for glory, not bread and jam; for the latter, he kept his day job. For his life, he got one of the great operas of all time; today, he gets birthday wishes from The Varnished Culture.

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On the Birthday Omnibus

September 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, FILM, HISTORY, MUSIC, OPERA, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

Photo by Harry Whittier Frees

September 5 Many happy birthdays to a range of historical and cultural notables!! 1638: Louis XIV The great empire-builder applied his zeal to the foundations laid by Cardinal Richelieu.  In the end, zeal undid much of his work but he still left a mighty legacy – he could little foresee on his 1715 deathbed that his great regal empire would last well under a century. Louis to the Duc d’Orléans on his deathbed: “‘You are about to see one King in his tomb and another in his cradle. Always cherish the memory of the first and the interests of the…

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Parsifal Swans in to Sydney

August 15, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, RELIGION, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
"Give me an hour, and you'll forget all about that silly mug..." (Temptation of Percival by Arthur Hacker, 1894)

"Give me an hour, and you'll forget all about that silly mug..." (Temptation of Percival by Arthur Hacker, 1894)

(Concert version, Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, 14 August 2017) We landed in Sydney secure in the knowledge that Jonas Kaufmann was already here and in fine form.  Out initial impressions of Sydney town c. 2017 were as favourable as always, except for the subsequent days when “strategic, environmental burn-offs” doused all in plumes of thick blue smoke, smoke much less tasty than that found second-hand in a cigar bar. In any case: Parsifal. This, Wagner’s “work of farewell to the world” has managed to become P’s favourite Wagner Opera, despite Tristan, despite Meistersinger, yes, even despite the Ring. Its music is so…

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