Michael Halliwell

Seldom is one able to see Wagner’s first successful repertoire opera and his final masterpiece within the space of twenty-four hours. After a few anxious moments with a delayed flight from Warsaw to Munich, a high-speed taxi ride to the National Theatre in the centre of the city, this reviewer, heart pounding and blood racing, settled into the first act of Parsifal ...
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Don Quichotte (Opera Australia) ★★★★1/2

Michael Halliwell
Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Desdemona’s plangent, soaring phrase at the end of the ‘Willow Song’ in Verdi’s penultimate opera, Otello, has been described as the last despairing cry of the bel canto. After many years of relentless tragedies, Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff, would be a bubbling and effervescent comedy – only his second in his illustrious career ...

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Hamlet (Adelaide Festival) ★★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Thursday, 08 March 2018

It is the fate of nearly all new operas to disappear quickly after an initial run of performances, so it was with much anticipation that Australian audiences had the opportunity to see Brett Dean’s Hamlet, triumphantly premièred at Glyndebourne in June 2017 ...

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La Traviata (Opera Australia) ★★★★1/2

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 02 March 2018

It is a particular pleasure for an opera lover, even a hard-bitten critic, to watch a career develop and blossom. Nicole Car, making her role début as Violetta for Opera Australia, is one such singer. Audiences have enjoyed her in a series of important roles ...

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A major new exhibition opened at the end of September at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: Opera: Passion, Power and Politics. The first of the three qualifying terms needs little explanation as a potential subject; as the title of Peter Conrad’s book ...

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Coronation of Poppea (Pinchgut Opera) ★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 01 December 2017

The political and sexual machinations on the stage at Angel Place in Sydney, ostensibly depicting an event during the inglorious reign of Emperor Nero in 54–68 CE, might be interpreted in a very contemporary light in terms of politics and society. An opera that represents ruthless political ambition allied to lust, cruelty, corruption ...

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Michael Halliwell interviews Australian composer, violist, and conductor Brett Dean for the ABR Podcast. Dean composed the opera Bliss based on the Peter Carey novel, and was for many years a violist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was the Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music(ANAM) in Melbourne, and is now a ...

2016 Arts Highlights of the Year

John Allison et al.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016

To highlight Australian Book Review’s arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year’s memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and art exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate some favourites.

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Letters to the Editor - September 2016

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dear Editor, Melbourne geographer Peter Christoff may be right that Australia should shake off its island mentality, but he is wrong to suggest that Australia has become much ...

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Mozart's third great collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, Così fan tutte, has enjoyed a chequered performance history since its première in the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1790, a year before Mozart's death. Its initial series of performances were interrupted by the death of Emperor Joseph ...

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