The Curse of Rigoletto

June 13, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

The Long Goodbye

Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi: Opera National de Paris (April / May 2016) (filmed by François Roussillon) This production, in terms of staging, is something pretty rare indeed: an unqualified disaster.  Pardon the bigotry, but only a a progressive German director like Claus Guth (witnessed at the outset, describing the work as “very curious”) could manage this melange of bubble-gum psychology and single entendre. Here are the most depressing sets that ever existed: a gigantic grey egg carton and some moving stairs to accentuate mental trajectories, or serve for a couple of dance numbers. And the doppelgängers!  Rigoletto (a somewhat stupefied…

Continue Reading →

Wagner and Modernism

May 26, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, HISTORY, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, Ulalume, WAGNER |

Wagner by Albrecht Leistner, 1911 (photo by Koernerj2000)

Modernism has many adherents and many parents.  It began, more or less, in the late 19th century (particularly in France) and flourished in the 20th century (early on, particularly in Italy – Ezra Pound’s admonition to ‘make it new’ probably reflected his italianate longings). Although some point to Kant as the great begetter of modernism, there are folks who were closer to home that can stake a better claim.  In France: Édouard Manet, Gustave Flaubert and especially Charles Baudelaire, and rather more globally, Richard Wagner.  Nietzsche regarded Baudelaire in this context as Wagner’s ‘intelligent adherent.’  But surely Wagner takes the prize, both in…

Continue Reading →

“Leitmotifs Through the Aether”

May 22, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, WAGNER |

A Tribschen idyll...Wagner with Eva

May 22, Happy 203rd birthday to Maestro Richard Wagner! On the evening of 19 May 2016, the Richard Wagner Society of SA hosted ABC broadcaster and programmer Simon Healy to give the annual Brian Coghlan Lecture on Leitmotifs Through the Aether:Wagner’s Operas in Broadcasting History. In a highly detailed and fascinating talk, Simon spoke (in his classic, Classic FM voice) of the technological advances through the last couple of centuries, referring first to the ancients and their perception of the ‘aether’ as the fifth element, onward and upward to the telegraph, which really paved the way for mass communication since….

Continue Reading →

Napoleon III For Me

April 20, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, OPERA |

'Joyeux 208e anniversaire, mon Roi' (Napoleon III by Franz Xaver Winterhalter)

Happy 208th birthday, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte! He was a true Frenchman – his instincts on things that matter (except the defence of the Empire) were sound.  For example, he stood up for the artists against the salon.  Modern governments bleat about public infrastructure – he just did it.  Perhaps major infrastructure can’t be built anymore without an emperor. He also appointed an infrastructure guru, M. Haussmann, to rebuild Paris, which, overall, he did brilliantly. He was a fan of the arts! So what if he didn’t see the Prussians coming! He was a fan of the arts!  He oversaw Paris’ Palais Garnier,…

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.