Die Walküre at the Met

July 3, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

[Film of production directed by Gary Halvorson, screened in Adelaide June/July 2019] **** stars Wagner’s most human work in the Ring cycle, the hub of the wheel, a pivotal moment when the increasingly out-of-kilter world of gods gives way to the chaos of man. We have described The Valkyries in more detail elsewhere, so we turn without further ado to this excellent film of the performance at the Met in NYC in March 2019, based on the original 2011 production. ‘The Machine’ is back: a spidery bundle of rectangular rods, like giant railway sleepers, that spin and flutter to address…

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Meistersingers of Melbourne

November 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

L-R: Daniel Sumegi as Pogner, Warwick Fyfe as Beckmesser, Andrew Jones as Nachtigall, Natalie Aroyan as Eva, Kanen Breen as Moser and Michael Kupfer-Radecky as Hans Sachs

Monday 19 November 2018 (Arts Centre, Melbourne) Royal Opera’s then house director, the notorious Kasper Holten, originally designed this production.  The Spectator’s Michael Tanner declared of the London version, “Nothing could prepare me for so deep an abyss of idiocy.”  We know what he means, but speaking personally, apart from some (very large) grumbles, we were not overly bothered by the sets or the “reinterpretation,” no doubt due to a combination of our own jaundiced lethargy and contempt. Also, Meistersinger is perhaps the only Wagnerian piece which is impervious to Regieoper, even when the Guild Hall in Act I is reconstructed…

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Act III From “Meistersinger” – Mastered!

Come blow your horn

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act III, Adelaide, 4 August 2018. The ASO and State Opera triumph again!  Our slate is free of crosses!  A dramatic version of Act III of Wagner’s magisterial comedy was beautifully presented on Saturday night, with Nicholas Braithwaite and the ASO, having had about 5 minute’s practice, fully on top of Wagner’s complex, rich sonorities, polyphonic master-touches, and yes, humour, and humanity.  Whilst The Varnished Culture overheard one dowager claiming afterwards that Hitler used to turn up for Act III alone (to absorb the finale’s Message about the retention of Pure Germanic Art), we have always considered…

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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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