A few years before he wrote his play The Ghost Sonata (1907), August Strindberg bitterly observed: ‘Life is so horribly ugly, we human beings so abysmally evil, that if a writer were to depict all that he had seen and heard no one could bear to read it ... Breeding and education seem only to mask the beast in us, and virtue is a disguise ...... (read more)
A few weeks after that memorable Peter Grimes from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney and Melbourne ...
Unlike the many films about the lives of artists, operas in which visual artists feature are few, though two of the most popular in the repertoire, Puccini’s Tosca and La Bohème, both have painters as central characters. The lives of artists are often messy affairs and resist convenient shaping into narrative arcs, with the actual creative process difficult to dramatise effectively ...... (read more)
Opera Australia – in its present expansionary phase – has hitched its wagon to a digital star in the form of a series of seven-metre-high LED screens. The future moves about on a busy automation system, thus creating a series of new dramatic spaces. Interviewed in the July 2019 issue of Opera magazine, Lyndon Terracini ...... (read more)
On 24 May 2019, an excited Melbourne audience witnessed a night of spectacular entertainment and magnificent music in the Australian première of Rossini’s 1825 opera Il Viaggio a Reims, exuberantly reimagined by Damiano Michieletto. Il Viaggio is an opera with multiple backstories. It was Rossini’s first commission ...... (read more)
Some sixty-two years after its Broadway première, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’s musical and geographical updating of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to pack a powerful dramatic punch. While not without its weaknesses, such as the reliance on now-dated street slang and ethnic stereotypes ...... (read more)
Alex Ross, at the start of his acclaimed survey of twentieth-century music, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the twentieth century, describes in vivid detail the luminaries gathered for one of the first performances of Richard Strauss’s Salome in Graz on 16 May 1906, five months after the Dresden première ...... (read more)
It is often observed that we live in an age of ‘directors’ opera’, where the name of the director precedes the name of the opera, never mind the composer. Yet there remain relatively few directors who have become indelibly associated with a particular visual style. South African William Kentridge is one ...... (read more)
Let it be said – indeed proclaimed – that Opera Australia’s new production of Wagner’s paean to life and art and love is musically as close to a triumph as it could have been. If, by the end, you feel the outside world is a better place than the one you temporarily abandoned six hours earlier, then Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg has surely wrought ...