A Midsummer Night’s Dream

March 4, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Opera by Benjamin Britten) (Directed by Neil Armfield) (Adelaide, 2 March 2021) “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” That’s what the impresario said about staging The Dream, one of Shakespeare’s wisest, wittiest and most surreal plays, full of beautiful poetry, but a nightmare to stage, invariably a disaster. Britten saw that it would make for better fare as a short opera, although the singing parts are eccentric (and the overall effect, flipping the switch to matinee vaudeville, appeasingly cartoon-like – Quoth Auden: “Dreadful! Pure Kensington”). So, here, is the set, but it is entirely apt for this production, a dappled…

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Flower Girl: the Brilliant Rachel Ruysch

February 28, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY |

Michiel van Musscher "Portrait of the artist Rachel Ruysch in her studio" (1675-85)

(3 June 1664 – 12 October 1750) Until the Dutch were sent mad by tulips, the Dutch Golden Age had Rachel Ruysch to thank for the luscious still life gallery of flowers.  Her minute observations of each flower, each stem, each inquisitive insect, in an extremely naturalistic way, but according to an elaborate arrangement or composition, are close to miraculous. Simon Schama suggested that this flower genre was a product of male oppression: “There were certainly women painters in the Republic, but just as opportunities for women writes and poets were available so long as they obeyed male assumptions about ornamental…

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Beethoven – Hits

February 25, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Capri Theatre, Adelaide, 23 February 2021) Beethoven was a real grind: loads of chamber pieces, choral works, incidental music and variations, songs, 17 sets for string quartets. At the Capri Cinema on Tuesday night TVC enjoyed 7 short pieces by a young but accomplished string quartet* (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello) of his works, in a theatre lit only by numerous candles (see main image).  The event is part of a series of such offerings around the country, and well worth attending, as they are accessible, enjoyable, and inexpensive. ‘Beethoven’s Best Works performed by a String Quartet’ included: Quartet…

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We Will Survive

February 24, 2021 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | LIFE |

(Why The Varnished Culture is leaving Facebook) Google has a link to a post on leaving Facebook, that suggests as reasons to leave, “its echo chamber effects, avoiding time wasting and procrastination, and the negative psychological effects of perpetual social comparison.” That is more a salutary warning to addicts rather than a shot at the product. From its o so humble beginnings, Facebook has become a monster, the Standard Oil of our age, a virtual monopoly allowing global networking of personal, commercial, and political content, along with news, a salad of actual old-time reportage and a trove of ‘fake news,’…

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John Martin

February 23, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART |

"Pandemonium'

(19 July 1789 – 17 February 1854) The great romantic painter of startling tableaux of the Apocalypse, John Martin passed from glazing plates to classical landscape painting until he found his mileu in fire and brimstone.  Stories of the Old and New Testaments were his templates, and the vast (or small) canvasses and plates of destruction, panic and woe were wildly successful, although now out of fashion (for now). “Below the rational and sensuous surface of nineteenth-century painting, the bright skin of Impressionism, the solid material world of Courbet, or, further back, the ideal forms of neo-classicism, there ran a…

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