August 4, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(by Jules Massenet, 1892) Royal Opera House, London, June 2016 Werther loves Charlotte but she is affianced to Albert and a sense of duty. Werther understands the score; she must do her duty.  He will (so he threatens) vanish, violently. But will he, a poet not a marksman, manage to blow himself away? Well, we liked this production. It is a slight piece of work, modern, situational rather than plot-driven, and it can glow only if the doomed non-couple have the requisite conviction.  In this production, they did.  Massenet’s adaptation of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), his animalistic Sturm und Drang…

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Roberto Devereux

July 5, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(by Gaetano Donizetti) (Metropolitan Opera, screened July 5, 2016) We’re still not quite sure what to make of this Met rendering of Donizetti’s brilliant little bel canto sweetmeat.  It seems to have been given the Heaven’s Gate treatment.  But there is much to like –  the static set by David McVicar (more Georgian/art nouveau fusion than Elizabethan) provided a sense of stability and economy, serving well as various rooms at Nonsuch Palace (looking a little Hampton Court), The Duke of Nottingham’s digs, the Tower, and as a gallery for the peripheral players.           The Errol Flynn, Bette Davis…

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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…

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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…

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“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….

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