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Harold Love

This book opens with the pregnancy of an Irish actress in 1789 and concludes with the death of her grandson in 1888. There is mystery at both ends of the story, relating in the first case to paternity and in the second to the source of a substantial estate. In between comes a drama of marital dissonance and economic survival played out against the great crisis brought upon the musical profession in England by the collapse of its family-based guild traditions.

It is a gripping read and would make a wonderful mini-series; but it is equally a very welcome contribution to the social history of musical performance over the period when the art was first establishing itself in Australia.

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The Australian Stage edited by Harold Love & Reverses by Marcus Clarke, edited by Dennis Davison

May 1986, no. 80

The Australian Stage represents an interesting intersection between the academic world and the creative arts, between the long perspective of the historian, and the ephemerality of theatre performances. Its methodology is academic; it proceeds from an examination of documents, of written records of an art form only one aspect of which we think of as being written, the actual texts of plays. However, these are not the documents in question (although some bibliographical information about the plays is also included); rather it is the responses to performances, particularly reviews, written reminiscences, playbills, newspaper reports, which provide, collectively, the material for a historical survey of theatre in Australia.

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25 Years of Australian Opera by Neil Warren-Smith with Frank Salter

April 1984, no. 59

That Neil Warren-Smith was a magnificent singer and actor I knew from having seen him in many Trust and Australian Opera seasons, including the very first in 1956. But his proneness to appear as czars, monks, ancient sages, field marshals and similar dignified personages had concealed from me that he was also a magnificent larrikin. This is a very welcome bonus of what is, sadly, a posthumous autobiography, talked with unblushing frankness down a tape recorder and presented with what seems to have been a minimum of intervention by Frank Salter.

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For those who think that opera in Australia only began to get off the ground this book will come as something of a shock. There was a time, over a hundred years ago, when enthusiastic audiences drawn from across the social spectrum supported ‘regular seasons of the world’s best musical theatre’ by a resident, commercial opera company which played in all the major capital cities.

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