Birthday Boy

May 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, WAGNER |

Birthday cheer

Richard Wagner (b. 22 May 1813) Happy 202nd anniversary to the Old Fellow!  We present an image of the artist as a young Lohengrin, hope Placido sings a little Swan-King today and look forward to Wagner Society SA bash on Sunday (see below).  “Mein lieber Schwann!” Sunday afternoon, 24 May, the Wagner Society of SA hosted a lunch and talk by Gillian and Nicholas Braithwaite.  Jill is a violinist of note and Nicholas is the highly esteemed conductor (he led ASO from 1987 to 1991), he has recorded and conducted all over the world. The Braithwaites gave a sparkling talk on the…

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Long Live the King

May 21, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music |

"And it's the damage that we do and never know, It's the words that we don't say that scare me so..."

Elvis Costello (Declan MacManus) (b. 25 August 1954) He was at first, with the approval of management, tagged an “angry young rebel” as a result of more than a few brash words and deeds, and the coming of the New Wave in 1976.  Add the reaction to him taking the sacred first name of Mr Presley, who would slide off his toilet to immortality just as his namesake was in the first flush of fame. Yet the label hardly stuck because Costello, though personally scratchy at times, is a dogged craftsman, a superb lyricist, a consummate performer and a lover of music in its many forms (witness, for example,…

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The Marriage of Figaro

April 12, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(State Opera SA, 2008) Mozart takes an imperial opera buffa and outdoes Rossini, no mean feat.  As directed by Neil Armfield, the sense of the composer’s wickedness is retained, with slight sets that actually add rather than detract.  As the triumphant underlings, Figaro and Susanna, David Thelander and Teresa La Rocca make a lovely couple and were in fine form. Based on the subversive book by Beaumarchais, Mozart manages (apparently without effort) to give his frantic entrances and exits a hard edge.  A great piece, worth seeing anytime – here done very well indeed.  

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March 13, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

"Faust" by Jean-Paul Laurens

(Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House, 7 March 2015) The story of Faust and his bargain with the Devil is old as the hills and versions are manifold.  The first and still greatest example of the legend is Goethe’s monumental poem, in which Mephistopheles bemoans the angels who void his contract by ferrying the old doctor off to heaven and beyond his clutches*.  This production is of Gounod’s (19 March 1859) Opera, which was rather loosely adapted from Goethe**, and conceived by Sir David McVicar in 2004 at Covent Garden, revived here by Bruno Ravella.  The staging easily survives transportation from…

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The Sixteen

March 11, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music |

Julius III accepts score from da Palestrina, promises to pay later.

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House (10 March 2015) A brilliant evening of sacred choral music.  TVC was not the only guest counting his fingers; with conductor Harry Christophers CBE, there were 19 on the stage but 16 is the historical name for the ensemble formed in 1979, and we are almost embarrassed at such a quibble.  The 18 were magnificent.  Their harmonising made musical accompaniment superfluous – at times, the 4 bass singers simulated an entire wood section.  During the first part of the programme, four of the, er, 16, ascended to an elevated rear part of the hall to supply some…

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