The Golden Cockerel

March 10, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov/ Directed by Barrie Kosky (Adelaide Festival, 9 March 2022) Pushkin’s slight morality fable of the idiocy of war-mongering autocracy (1835) was taken up (1907) by Rimsky-Korsakov as a reflection of the faltering reign of Tsar Nicholas II, who made Joe Biden seem like Pericles. The so-called dark wit, surreal burlesque, and satirical messaging is, regrettably, lost in this production. A colossal, over-extravagant Russian in-joke makes a not very good opera…and Mr. Kosky has, with his peculiar genius, turned it into an excruciating, absurdly repetitive, extended Monty python skit (we recalled Terry Gilliam’s filler cartoons from that series)….

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Haydn’s Solar Poetics

March 7, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Australian Haydn Ensemble, Adelaide Town Hall, Saturday 5 March 2022) Haydn’s 30 year gig with the company-store-bound Esterházy players, players fed and watered by a family a bit like the Rockefellers of another age and place, was productive. His very first hits were symphonies 6, 7 & 8, the so-called Morning, Noon and Night symphonies, the first of some 80 that were written for the Esterházy clan. The programme notes put it well, albeit well-baked: “The top minds of Europe were abuzz in 1761. Venus was transiting the sun for the first time since science had twigged that it could pinpoint our…

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Wagner and the Snowy Uplands of Utopia

November 29, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, WAGNER |

Christmas Celebration of the Richard Wagner Society of SA, November 28, 2021 A very pleasant lunch ended the Wagner year with regrets for what could have been (The Ring in Brisbane, for example, cancelled for the 2nd year running) although we are now told it’s to return in December 2023.  The RWS (SA) chose the Tribschen Idyll as its Christmas theme, marking that cold day in 1870 when it was first performed on the steps inside Richard’s and Cosima’s house (main image). Presented as a Birthday / Christmas gift from Wagner to Cosima on 25 December, it features all the…

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For Whom the Bell Rings

August 22, 2021 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, LIFE, MUSIC, OPERA, Opera |

August 2021: The Varnished Culture is gutted to learn that the Brisbane Ring Cycle set for October and November has been cancelled for the Second Time.  Due to the damn faux-plague. Opera Australia’s statement of 19/8/2021 followed its message to ticket holders the previous Tuesday: We’re sad to announce that all upcoming performances of the Ring Cycle and Aida in Brisbane have been postponed due to COVID travel restrictions.  This is hugely disappointing news, but we are committed to re-scheduling these spectacular productions so that the seven years of planning that has already gone into this project won’t go to waste….

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RocKwiz Salutes Eurovison (2021)

June 29, 2021 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 25 June 2021 We thought nothing could stop the Eurovision Song Contest.  The plastic glitter tv extravaganza that has been jauntily assaulting our eyeballs, ears and self-respect since 1956 is proof against international conflict, political controversy and stage-bombers.  But a little virus from a non-competing country cancelled the contest in 2020 and Eurovision tragics had to content themselves with The Story of Fire Saga . The SBS music quiz tv show RocKwiz is keeping the legend alive in 2021 for those Australians who cannot travel. From the Gershwin Room in St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne to…

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