Il Signor Bruschino / La voix humaine

January 15, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume |

Yvonne Kenny

(15/12/2005, Melbourne) These one act operas, by Rossini and Poulenc respectively, were staged as “Love in Two Acts” by OA at the Arts Theatre, both conducted by Stephen Mould.  Rossini’s short opera buffa is, as usual, very kind on the ear, eye and understanding, as assumed identities, a pompous guardian and true-love-triumphant make for a nice pas de huit.  Emma Matthews and Kanen Breen as the lovers, led a fine cast, directed by Stuart Maunder. Poulenc’s piece, on the other hand, is like a cross between Sorry, Wrong Number and and a Lifeline transcript, as Elle, on her disheveled bed,…

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Birdman

(Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu) (2014) This is an interesting and well-made film that suffers from an empty space about its heart.  The 1990s star of “Birdman 1, 2 and 3”, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton – get it?) spurned Birdman # 4 when at the top of the Hollywood pile, and is now a penniless has-been with substance abuse issues and an uncertain relationship with reality, as evidenced by his schizoid exchanges with the alter-ego Birdman character, who comes and goes, alternately revving and razzing Thomson in a voice reminiscent of Frank in Donnie Darko.  His comeback (or if you hate…

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The Night of the Hunter

January 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Image by C. Robiller

(Dir. Charles Laughton) (1955) Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel on the Ohio River, as 2 cute kids take to a skiff with stolen cash to escape their brand new stepfather (Robert Mitcham, in a sensational performance as the ‘preacher’ with “love” and “hate” tattooed on his knuckles).  Lillian Gish also terrific as his adversary and Shelley Winters again assumes the role of tragic victim in this surreal pasquinade.

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Kata Kabanova

January 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Palais Garnier. Image by P. Giraud

Palais Garnier (2 November 2004) A beautiful production of this sad tale of adultery and recrimination, with the set a series of flats that would be at home in The Bill, including an appropriately atrocious print of bison at a waterhole (just to rub in Kabanicha’s horrendousness) and leaf-swept patio – incongruous in the gilded truffle of this particular opera house.  Angela Denoke and Jane Henschel, as Kata and mum-in-law respectively, take on the white and black hatted key roles magnificently.  Peter Burian conducted.

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Dumbing Down Terracini

January 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA, MUSIC, Opera, THEATRE, Ulalume |

Sydney Opera House (photo by Diliff)

Every artist has occasion to groan about critics.  Often it can amount to, in Verdi’s phrase, ‘stupid criticism, even stupider praise’, or argumentum ad hominem.  As Peter Craven observed in last weekend’s The Australian, much online content falls into these categories but in the current context, the artistic director of Opera Australia has taken the bait and been hooked like a bullfrog.  Diana Simmonds reports on her site Stage Noise that she was informed:      “In response to some of your recent writing about the company, Lyndon [Terracini] asked that you be removed from the media list.”   So what was Simmonds’…

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