December 8, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

There's nothing like wrapping-up a series with a wedding (even if it's a double-wedding from Hell)

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, December 7, 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) With Götterdämmerung, Wagner closes his monumental circle, and not in a particularly happy way. Or does he?  Why, after their interminable love play concluding Siegfried, does Brünnhilde send her lover off to do good deeds, a la Lucy and Ricky?  Why are the Norns just catching-up with the imminent fall of Valhalla, which Wotan and Erda would have told them about already?  Why, after drinking a Brangäne-inspired potion that moves him to marry Gutrune and kidnap Brünnhilde for Gunther’s convenience (an infamous act that he compounds by slapping her around and stealing…

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December 6, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, 5 December 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) In this third spoke of the cycle, the plot becomes simple, but radical; in a sense, confined, more a matter of fairy-tale than myth.  Siegfried goes from boy to man; with the newly forged hand-me-down sword, ‘Nothung’ he slays the gold-hoarding dragon, and when he sees that his guardian, Mime, has played him for a sucker, he deals with him too.  Then, with newly-acquired powers of comprehension, he heads up the mountain to find the sleeping Brünnhilde. During that ascent, he confronts on old fella (who turns out to be his…

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Die Walküre

December 3, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

"Step off, or I'll put you with the stuffed animals!"

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, December 2, 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) We have spoken of The Valkyries before in terms of Wagner’s dazzlingly great achievement, but before turning to this wonderful version of it, can we bang on a bit more about what the Maestro was up to here? Die Walküre shows Wagner blossoming as musician and dramatist.  In the words of Ernest Newman, “he abandoned himself luxuriously to the sheer joy of music-making, both enlarging the scale of his design for each episode and delighting in fine filigree work from bar to bar; at the same time he has acquired a…

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Das Rheingold

December 2, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, 30 November 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) This reprise of the production from 2013 seems tighter but the essentials of staging and (thankfully) the precision of the Melbourne Ring Orchestra under Pietari Inkinen, are retained. In a minor miracle of timing, we have had the election of Mr Trump, an Alberich for our times. Moreover, reports of a dark-haired, wide-browed man – Nibelungen-like – making off with $2.1m in gold from the back of a bank truck in Manhattan – suggest that the stars had aligned for this production. Having said that, there is a lot of tosh written about The…

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Richard Wagner Society of Victoria

November 30, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, LIFE, MUSIC, OPERA, WAGNER |

(Federation Hall, Melbourne, 30 November 2016) The Varnished Culture was honoured to attend a soirée at the Victorian College of the (we trust, Beaux,) Arts on the eve of the 2nd cycle of Melbourne’s Ring.  New President of The Richard Wagner Society (in Victoria) Inc., the urbane and congenial Mr. Trevor Clarke, who’s learned discourses on Wagner matters are well known, welcomed Wagnerites from all compass-points, including the Presidents and representatives of Wagner Societies in Singapore, Toronto and the great State of Western Australia. Over copious drinks and sandwiches on trays prettily bedecked in tussie-mussie, distributed by diverse and erudite Norns from the Society, TVC…

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