February 25, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Enrico Caruso born 25 February 1873 (died 2 August 1921) The great operatic Napolitano was one of the first tenors to ‘cut a disc’ and it made him world famous. Even now you can divine his strong, clear voice and range on scratchy phonograph records (see below).  Although primarily based at the Met in New York, he sang all over and had a big repertoire (including Lohengrin in Buenos Aires). Melba wrote of him: “As a voice – pure and simple – his was the most wonderful tenor I ever heard.” Toscanini, it is said, said of him: “If this Neapolitan keeps singing…

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Co-Operate! See the Barber of Seville

February 15, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THEATRE |

'Figaro sù, Figaro giù! Figaro quà, Figaro la!'

A Co-Opera production, Waverley House, Willunga, 21 April; Adelaide Showground, 22, 28 & 29 April. The Varnished Culture has already enthused about Rossini’s little piece – the Barber of Seville is nigh perfect, and whilst Co-Opera – the nation’s only dedicated touring Opera Company – runs on a shoestring, this production not only deserves your support but is likely to command your attention and admiration as well.

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Richard’s Wake – and thus Sam spake

February 12, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, WAGNER |

11 February 2018 A very pleasant afternoon was spent, courtesy of the Richard Wagner Society SA, at the Seven Stars Hotel to observe the passing of the Maestro (13 February 1883) and to hear from rising Australian tenor, Samuel Sakker, who is here to sing in the Brett Dean-composed opera of Hamlet at the Festival Theatre, and later in the year, to perform in Meistersinger Act III as David. It was of great interest to hear about the travails of a young tenor making his way in the world of opera, and to learn that selection of an operatic role is…

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La Bohème

February 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Puccini’s best work (equalled only by Tosca) premiered on this day (1 February) 1896 in Turin, conducted by Toscanini. Whereas opera before concerned itself almost exclusively with the grandeur of the Idle Rich, this memorably essayed people like me (the Idle Poor). It is simple, sentimental, poignant and full of melodrama and truly great music.  The critics were initially snippy about the low-rent characters but this piece more than any other has become a standard work, to what would be a tiresome degree but for the sublime music. Such as “O soave fanciulla” – Here are Ramón Vargas (Rodolfo) and Barbara Frittoli…

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Palais Garnier

January 5, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, OPERA, Uncategorized |

This superb example of Beaux Arts neoclassical Opera House was inaugurated on this day, 5 January, in 1875. Charles Garnier’s design is splendid, even more so when one appreciates that it was despised and detested by that box-building fraud Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier).           The Varnished Culture has only seen one production there, but it was well worth it: Kata Kabanova. Such a bleak and shabby piece may have seemed incongruous but your correspondent, amid Parisian dowagers rattling their jewelry, was untroubled by the surrounding sumptuousness.           The decorative figures adorning the main façade include bronze…

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