The Power Broker

(Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) (by Robert A. Caro, 1974) That this brick of a book (well over a thousand pages) about public infrastructure is so compelling is due to, first, its traverse of key decades in the rise of America (1920s to the 1960s); second, the author’s awesome depth of research and keen grasp of his subject; and third, the subject himself: the most famous public official in New York (perhaps America), Robert Moses (18 December 1888 – 29 July 1981), a humanities man, without engineering qualifications, who yet singlehandedly matched the Pharaohs and the Romans in…

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Icehouse

Adelaide Oval’s Village Green, 8 February, 2022 ‘Icehouse’ were never really the techno-guys they were painted as – Nothing to Do from their first (best?) album (when they were ‘Flowers’) is a song Lou Reed would have liked to write and perform – and this terrific retrospective, conceived around the 40th anniversary of the inaugural release of Great Southern Land, written by Iva Davies in homage to Australia and its landscape while homesick on the band’s first overseas tour, showed how their hits were basically great rock/pop, performed by a band that is pretty much as cohesive and professional as…

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The Golden Cockerel

March 10, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov/ Directed by Barrie Kosky (Adelaide Festival, 9 March 2022) Pushkin’s slight morality fable of the idiocy of war-mongering autocracy (1835) was taken up (1907) by Rimsky-Korsakov as a reflection of the faltering reign of Tsar Nicholas II, who made Joe Biden seem like Pericles. The so-called dark wit, surreal burlesque, and satirical messaging is, regrettably, lost in this production. A colossal, over-extravagant Russian in-joke makes a not very good opera…and Mr. Kosky has, with his peculiar genius, turned it into an excruciating, absurdly repetitive, extended Monty python skit (we recalled Terry Gilliam’s filler cartoons from that series)….

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Haydn’s Solar Poetics

March 7, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Australian Haydn Ensemble, Adelaide Town Hall, Saturday 5 March 2022) Haydn’s 30 year gig with the company-store-bound Esterházy players, players fed and watered by a family a bit like the Rockefellers of another age and place, was productive. His very first hits were symphonies 6, 7 & 8, the so-called Morning, Noon and Night symphonies, the first of some 80 that were written for the Esterházy clan. The programme notes put it well, albeit well-baked: “The top minds of Europe were abuzz in 1761. Venus was transiting the sun for the first time since science had twigged that it could pinpoint our…

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Spencer (dir. Pablo Larrain 2021)

February 24, 2022 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Pablo Larrain’s fiction about an imagined few days in the life of Diana, Princes of Wales at Sandringham Castle, Christmas 1991 will make you feel really sorry for that woman. Not Diana. Heavens no! But Kristen Stewart.  The poor thing does very well in portraying Diana despite a poor Sloane Ranger accent and a script as leaden as the lining of a butler’s sink. Stewart gives Spencer’s Diana just as much weight as she merits – none.  Spencer’s Diana is a whiney, entitled, disrespectful, self-centred fool. She’s world-weary and heartily sick and tired of the demands that those nasty Windsors…

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