Ultra-kitsch

January 24, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume |

O tempora, o mores! Tosca’s taking up with fascists in the updated OA production (‘don’t cry for me, Mussolini, the truth is you can’t spoil Tosca…’).   Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in Paris last October, described by Jonathan Meades in the Spectator (Xmas 14) as “yet another of Frank Gehry’s exercises in outsize origami.”  Yet it would be hard to match, for sheer ugliness, the Centre Georges Pompidou. [Update note: The Times reports (September, 2017) that Richard Rogers, the man responsible for the Pompidou Centre, has criticized interventions by Prince Charles on additions to historic public buildings, calling the Prince “architecturally ignorant…[viewing…

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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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The Elgin Marbles

January 7, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, LIFE, TRAVEL, Ulalume |

Image courtesy Andrew Dunn

‘And so this is Christmas and what have we done?’  Have we been friends of the earth and enemies of the people; open to change and closed to knowledge; fighting for peace and appeasing terror?  Tu se’ pagliaccio! The squabbles over the Elgin marbles continue.  There are many arguments pro and con; some ingenious, some tosh.  Legally, you can paraphrase Mr Gutman from the ‘Maltese Falcon’ and say clear title rests with Pheidias, so how can another claim prevail except by right of possession? The only edifying aspect to squabbles over title is that it reveals a hitherto latent love…

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National Gallery of Victoria

December 12, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Ulalume |

December 2014 TVC wandered mainly in the European wing this trip but the floating wooden Japanese village by Takahiro Iwasaki was a highlight, as were hardy perennials ‘The Garden of Love’ by Vivarini (1465-70), with its formal marble fountain bordered by trellised fruits (tomatoes? pomegranates? Triffids?); Jan Brueghel’s ‘Calvary’ (c. 1610) with its blue oils on copper and a harsh landscape with dogs and prurient audience watching the faith-man suffer; a little ‘St Jerome’ (c. 1540) peering into the blue distance in which birds wheel like bomber-planes; Poussin’s ‘The Crossing of the Red Sea’ (1632-4) and its choppy sea and…

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Ariadne & Theseus at the Mortlock Chamber

Picture courtesy of Dr Daniela Kaleva

To the Mortlock Chamber in the State Library of SA, to hear L’Arianna abbandonata e gloriosa and Lamento d’Arianna (1608), works reconstructed from Monteverdi’s fragmented scores, with solo voice and harpsichord, accompanied by the odd stage effect to evoke waves crashing on lonely Naxos, where (failed Argonaut) Theseus has parked Ariadne to show his gratitude for her help surviving the labyrinth on Minos. This paring away eschews the go-for-baroque approach that could overwhelm the purity of the harmonics, which are quite reminiscent of Purcell’s Dido pieces…

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