Richard’s Wake – and thus Sam spake

February 12, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, WAGNER |

11 February 2018 A very pleasant afternoon was spent, courtesy of the Richard Wagner Society SA, at the Seven Stars Hotel to observe the passing of the Maestro (13 February 1883) and to hear from rising Australian tenor, Samuel Sakker, who is here to sing in the Brett Dean-composed opera of Hamlet at the Festival Theatre, and later in the year, to perform in Meistersinger Act III as David. It was of great interest to hear about the travails of a young tenor making his way in the world of opera, and to learn that selection of an operatic role is…

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La Bohème

February 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera |

Puccini’s best work (equalled only by Tosca) premiered on this day (1 February) 1896 in Turin, conducted by Toscanini. Whereas opera before concerned itself almost exclusively with the grandeur of the Idle Rich, this memorably essayed people like me (the Idle Poor). It is simple, sentimental, poignant and full of melodrama and truly great music.  The critics were initially snippy about the low-rent characters but this piece more than any other has become a standard work, to what would be a tiresome degree but for the sublime music. Such as “O soave fanciulla” – Here are Ramón Vargas (Rodolfo) and Barbara Frittoli…

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Happy Birthday Hector!

December 11, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera |

Berlioz conducting (by Louis Reybaud)

Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was treated shamefully by his countrymen.  His works were seminal and influential upon, among others, Wagner himself. He certainly didn’t get the best press in his career, and his somewhat doleful nature made him the butt of those with a skerrick of natural humour: Yet as his great memoir shows, Berlioz knew he had something and you only have to play a few of his recordings to appreciate that: For example,  the Symphonie fantastique. And his Faust. Even Les Troyens, with its Wagnerian length, is worth its salt. And then consider his overtures based…

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Carmen (Opera di Roma)

November 19, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

2017, Opera di Roma Border Control, Under the Volcano and Breaking Bad meet in this production of Opera di Roma, disastrously staged & directed by Valentina Carrasco.  Of which more later, but whilst any dumb directorial decision cannot defeat Carmen, it may nevertheless diminish it somewhat. Set impressively in the Roman Baths at the Terme di Caracalla (one was reminded of pop concerts at Red Rocks), the music stood out, with conductor Jesús López-Cobos content to let it do its own work in the main, and the leads in fine voice.  Veronica Simeoni is a fine exemplar of Bel Canto, although she…

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“Once More, With Feeling”

November 5, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Statue of Hans by Johann Konrad Krausser (photo by T. Voekler)

Hans Sachs (born 5 November 1494, in Nuremburg), was an early version of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Carole King, Elvis Costello, all the great songsmiths and wordsmiths of popular music. Thing is, he did it solely for glory, not bread and jam; for the latter, he kept his day job. For his life, he got one of the great operas of all time; today, he gets birthday wishes from The Varnished Culture.

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