August 18, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, DANTE |

SA Dante Society, 17 August 2015 At the Italian Centre on Monday evening the Society was treated to an early taste of Verdi’s tempestuous, mighty and dramatic requiem mass.  This will be performed with full chorus and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on 26 and 28 August, as conducted by Timothy Sexton. Maestro Dr Joseph Talia OAM gave a lucid and learned backgrounder, virtually extemporaneously, as to the sources, anxieties and influences on Verdi in the creation of this unique liturgical music, operatic in style and inspired by the life and death of Alessandro Manzoni, whom he revered.  Verdi grappled with the…

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Stop Mucking About

July 27, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, Ulalume, WAGNER |

A terrific and informed wrap-up of the Sydney Symphony orchestra’s Tristan und Isolde concert is to be found in the Richard Wagner Society of SA Inc’s August newsletter.  The Varnished Culture did not attend the evening in Sydney, but we commented on some of the issues in our wrap-up, Great Hall.  The general consensus is that the placement of the singers at the back of the hall, behind the orchestra, was an acoustic mistake, and the video projections a profound artistic error.  The adverse effect of this mucking about is obvious; the motive is unclear. Lee Brauer’s perceptive account of the recent RWS…

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July 21, 2015 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Opera |

Anna May Wong as Turandot, 1937

(Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House, 18 July 2015) By Guest Reviewer The majesty of the Chinese culture is a background piece when put against the heart and soul of Puccini’s Turandot. Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House, amidst coats scarves and freezing conditions, we were engulfed by the warmth and escapism of this story. Being directed and choreographed by Graeme Murphy, the production was full of flowing moves, giving us moments of not knowing where to look. So much, so many and so… well at one moment I thought ‘opening ceremony’ meets mardi gras..but that is harsh. It may…

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I Pagliacci

July 9, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

and Cavalleria Rusticana (Filmed at the Met, Northern winter, 2015) (screened in Adelaide, 8 July 2015) It’s more (squalid, proletarian) potboiler than verismo, but this time-honoured double bill of adulterous, hypocritical, homicidal southern Italians is, pardon the expression, impervious to the knife.  The Met, under baton of Fabio Luisi, is faultless, and the direction and cinéma vérité staging, after Sir David McVicar, is pretty good, albeit a little clunky (*QUIBBLE ALERT*).  Appropriately, ’twas the Met that first combined these two hardy perennials in 1893; a good idea that seems obvious in hindsight. The pieces are worthy but slight, crisp wafers soaked…

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The Curse of ”The Sound of Music”

(Dir. Robert Wise) (1965) We’re sorry, but we can only watch The Sound of Music in 15 minute increments.  Any more attracts a risk of type-two diabetes.  This cloying, sacchariferous, candied, 174-minute dollop of goo would have received one or less review stars from us, but for the superb cinematography, sweeping over and around the chocolate-box town of Salzburg and its surrounding mountains, and the overall production values, which are first-rate. The (bizarre and stupefying) success of both the stage musical and the film have led to endless revivals around the globe, the mawkish meld of Nuns, Nazis and warbling infants a seemingly irresistible combo.  We are…

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