Michael Halliwell

Cloudstreet (State Opera of South Australia) ★★★★1/2

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 16 May 2016

If any contemporary Australian novel can be said to be canonical, or perhaps even 'the great Australian novel', then it must be Tim Winton's Cloudstreet. Published in 1991, it soon acquired a devoted following and elevated Winton into the top rank of Australian writers ...

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The Pearlfishers ★★★1/2

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 18 January 2016

'One-hit' operas litter the repertoire. One thinks of the aria 'Ebben? Ne andrò lontana', which every soprano worth her salt has sung in concert and many have recorded. The aria was the thread running through the cult move, Diva (1981), sung in a concert scene in the film by the soprano ...

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Winterreise (Sydney Festival) ★★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 08 January 2016

The protagonist of Thomas Mann's great novel, The Magic Mountain (1924), Hans Castorp, goes into battle, and almost certainly his death, at the end of the book singing 'Der Lindenbaum' from Schubert's song cycle, Winterreise: The song meant a great deal to him, a whole world ... His fate ...

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L'Amant jaloux (Pinchgut Opera)

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 04 December 2015

The 'anxiety of influence' is just as pertinent to music as it is to all the arts. Scholars have claimed that Mozart was strongly influenced in the composition of Le nozze di Figaro (1786), by André Grétry's (1741–1813) L'Amant jaloux (The Jealous Lover, or False Appearances) (1778). The musical and dramatic genius of ...

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Ask any opera singer from the last fifty or more years who their favourite conductor is, and a substantial number would plumb for Charles Mackerras if they had enjoyed the privilege of working with him. There were always more flamboyant conductors – Karajan, Bernstein, Abbado, and others spring to mind – and certainly many enjoyed more immediate name recognition ...

Audra McDonald sings Broadway (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

Michael Halliwell
Friday, 06 November 2015

In 2012 Stephen Sondheim reacted rather unexpectedly to a new production entitled 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess'. The original show, which itself has undergone multiple transformations since its première in 1935, was somewhat rewritten, incorporating new scenes, additional dialogue, revised orchestrations, the insertion of new biographical details, as wel ...

Australia is being overrun by a rabbit phenomenon, but not of the annoying, four-legged variety. It’s The Rabbits: the opera, the musical, the song cycle, or what? Does it matter?

Premièred to highly positive reviews at the Perth Festival in February this year, it has now reached the Melbourne Festival. Some have seen in the success of this wo ...

The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Australia)

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 24 August 2015

British director, Nicholas Hytner, remarking on its indestructibility, once observed that one could set The Marriage of Figaro on the moon as long as the doors were in the right place. In fact, not such a strange idea, as Mozart’s great contemporary, Joseph Haydn, had set his opera Il mondo della luna (‘The World on the Moon’) exactly there.

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Orpheus – composer and singer of his own song – is regarded as the founding figure of opera. One of the most arresting images of Orpheus is of his death – his dismembered head on his lyre floating down a river, still singing. Opera’s history is dogged by its own death wish; the art form has been pronounced dying, or even dead almost from its inception, yet z ...

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