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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Hamlet Sings! We Laugh!

March 7, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Hamlet, Glyndebourne Festival Opera production, Adelaide Festival Theatre, 6 March 2018 You know the story, or perhaps you can condense it into one word, as did the English stage director Tyrone Guthrie: “Mummy!”  But you might prefer to concentrate on the post-modern man Shakespeare seems to have had in mind with Hamlet: “the revolutionary whose manners and ways of life are attached to the old régime, whose ideals and loyalties belong to the new, and who, by a kind of courageous exhibitionism is compelled to tell the truth about both.”*  Bloom calls the play (which admittedly, has its own structural…

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