How Much I Lied

(Image by Jo Kuehn)

(Image by Jo Kuehn)

THE LIEDER TRADITION Schubert’s Winter Journey – Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge (2015) Deborah Humble sings Wagner & Brahms (Adelaide, 11 February 2017) The German lieder tradition sets romantic poetry to music and performs it with raw emotion, usually to a very simple musical accompaniment such as piano or guitar.  It is a broader part of a long line of love songs, from the French troubadours like Villon to the German lieder composers up to and in the nineteenth century, all the way to Tin Pan Alley and the torch songs floating out the windows of the Brill Building.  And beyond – modern pop songs have often…

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Visconti’s Ludwig

January 27, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, HISTORY, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
LuddersPoster

(Dir. Luchino Visconti) (1972) Ludwig II of Bavaria led a life of the mind and was a genuine original in a time of puppet kings and jumped-up Germanic principalities.  Therefore a period film of his tumultuous life, his reluctant ascension, his shaky romances, his celebrated patronage of Wagner, the night train and sleigh rides to nowhere, his decline into madness, his mysterious death…all sumptuously filmed in situ by the consummate Luchino Visconti, director of masterpieces such as La Terra Trema,  Senso, The Leopard, Death in Venice…couldn’t miss, right? Wrong.  It looks terrific, and Helmut Berger suggests something of the King’s inner torment,…

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Wagner by Michael Tanner

WagTanner3

Science has proved that books on Wagner’s life and works would more than fill the Grand Canyon.  It is therefore necessary to be discriminating (in a good way) as to what reading matter on the Maestro you choose to buy, beg, borrow or steal.  Michael Tanner is a perceptive opera critic of good standing, an unapologetic Wagnerite, and his little book on the subject of Wagner’s work is a lucid and concise presentation of his views on Wagner’s raison d’être and the dimensions of his achievement.  Despite tending to present difficult concepts in convoluted, laborious language (the hallmark of the professional philosopher,…

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Götterdämmerung

December 8, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
There's nothing like wrapping-up a series with a wedding (even if it's a double-wedding from Hell)

There's nothing like wrapping-up a series with a wedding (even if it's a double-wedding from Hell)

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, December 7, 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) With Götterdämmerung, Wagner closes his monumental circle, and not in a particularly happy way. Or does he?  Why, after their interminable love play concluding Siegfried, does Brünnhilde send her lover off to do good deeds, a la Lucy and Ricky?  Why are the Norns just catching-up with the imminent fall of Valhalla, which Wotan and Erda would have told them about already?  Why, after drinking a Brangäne-inspired potion that moves him to marry Gutrune and kidnap Brünnhilde for Gunther’s convenience (an infamous act that he compounds by slapping her around and stealing…

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Siegfried

December 6, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |
Sieg2

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, 5 December 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) In this third spoke of the cycle, the plot becomes simple, but radical; in a sense, confined, more a matter of fairy-tale than myth.  Siegfried goes from boy to man; with the newly forged hand-me-down sword, ‘Nothung’ he slays the gold-hoarding dragon, and when he sees that his guardian, Mime, has played him for a sucker, he deals with him too.  Then, with newly-acquired powers of comprehension, he heads up the mountain to find the sleeping Brünnhilde. During that ascent, he confronts on old fella (who turns out to be his…

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