Tristan and Isolde at the Met

November 7, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | FILM, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

(2016, Directed by Mariusz Trelinski; conducted by Simon Rattle) The Varnished Culture had previously set out a prescription for the correct staging of Wagner’s greatest one-off, Tristan und Isolde.  Now we had the chance to see if the Met would rise to our vision, in opening its 50th season at the Lincoln Centre. It didn’t, but there were still good things in it.  The orchestra under Simon Rattle was superb.  Each of the three sublime Acts carry various challenges, including the liaisons with the singers, and all were handled impeccably, to this ear at any rate. Met favourite Nina Stemme was Isolde;…

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South Australia Venerates the Maestro

September 13, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Classical Music, LIFE, MUSIC, OPERA, Opera, WAGNER |

12 September 2016: Thirty Years of the Richard Wagner Society of SA Inc. 1986: what a year!  South Australia’s 150th birthday.  John Bannon was Premier – remember him?  Ronnie Reagan was U.S. President; Bob Hawke was Prime Minister.   Glenelg won a stirring Grand Final against the odds. And SA State Opera, eclectic as ever, staged Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, then the Opera Theatre, which inspired three men of letters, Professor Andrew McCredie, Malcolm Fox and Ralph Middenway (with spiritual father Brian Coghlin absent but there in spirit), to convene a hasty public meeting on 20 June 1986, in…

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Let’s Be Positive!

August 21, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | OPERA |

Good news: in about a year, Opera Australia will present Parsifal with the famous Heldentenor Jonas Kaufmann. Now, the Varnished Culture has but two questions: Will it be the whole opera or just a concertized flummery? And Will Kaufmann make the trip? We do not wish to cast nastersians, but in January 2016, Classicalite [] reported: “Jonas Kaufmann, in an unfortunate recurrence, has canceled his performances of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Metropolitan Opera. Filling in for Kaufmann is none other than fellow star, tenor Roberto Alagna…Details of Kaufmann’s illness are unknown but he did cancel performances earlier this year due…

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Das Ende

August 17, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, LIFE, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

"Wakey, wakey Brunhild!" (Otto Donner von Richter) (c. 1892)

17 August, 1876 In Bayreuth, Wagner’s great dream of a music festival playing nothing but Wagner (specifically, the Ring Cycle), concluded today 140 years ago.  How many in the crowd cried “Danke Gott!”  Or maybe, being mostly Bavarian and made of sterner stuff than most, many  said “Grüß got!” For it had been a good day, a great week in fact.  The Twilight of the Gods ended some 16 hours of music drama that left the audience drained and etiolated, but in a good way, like a pious married couple on the morning after the wedding. For his part Wagner…

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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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