Peter Rose

Tosca (Opera Australia)

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17 November 2014

Opera Australia’s spring season in Melbourne opened with John Bell’s production of Tosca, which had its première in Sydney, in June 2013. The company is now adding strong readings of masterworks to its repertoire: this Tosca preceded David McVicar’s brilliant production of

Here is a fine new Australian opera from Victorian Opera. Composer Iain Grandage and librettist Alison Croggon have taken Tim Winton’s Booker-shortlisted novel The Riders (1994) and created a highly expressive work. Marion Potts directs it on a wide but stark stage furnished only with wooden saw horses. There is a balcony and a revolve, but mostly Potts chooses to observe her anguished and introspective characters through a series of fairly static groupings.

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There were few opportunities to hear Handel’s opera Rodelinda, regina de’ Longobardi during the two centuries that followed its première in 1725. Although the opera was a great success at first (Handel said of the 1731 London revival, ‘it took’), it soon fell into obscurity, along with most of Handel’s many operas. A ...

Already, Anu Singh’s story is grimly familiar. Now free again, just thirty-one, she has entered the popular pantheon of malefactors. Her attractive face appears in the newspapers, taut with self-justification. There is talk of a documentary. Notoriety, even a kind of celebrity – that amoral nirvana – is hers.

If Singh’s deepest motivation f ...

Erik Jensen, a young journalist who now edits the Saturday Paper, has written an unusual memoir of his four years shadowing an artist – a difficult artist, it must be said (putting it euphemistically). Any new memoirist like Jensen will be interrogated umpteen times about his motivation. Such is the fascination with biography – fascination mixed with ambivalence – he will be asked about catharsis, whether the exercise was improving, enlightening, transmogrifying. In Tardises and tents the memoirist will become adept at distilling his intentions, whether they be financial or fraternal, vengeful or venerative. In Jensen’s case, this curiosity is likely to be magnified because of his intimacy with his subject and the marked decadence of the setting. This biographer’s rationale is as intriguing as that of his beleaguered subject.

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Georges Bizet was twenty-four when he wrote Les Pêcheurs de perles, which was first performed at the Théâtre-Lyrique in Paris, in September 1863. This was twelve years before Bizet’s masterwork, Carmen, which premièred in the year of his death. The first opera was immediately popular. Berlioz reviewed it warmly. As it happens, this was Berlioz’ ...

sheila fitzpatrickSheila Fitzpatrick, a professor at the University of Sydney specialising in the history of modern Russia, is one of the world’s most influential Soviet historians. She is the author of two memoirs, My Father’s Daughter (2010) and A Spy ...

Andrea GoldsmithAndrea Goldsmith is a Melbourne-based novelist, reviewer and essayist. Her literary essays have appeared in Heat, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, Best Australian Essays, as well as numerou ...

John CoetzeeJ.M. Coetzee was born in South Africa and educated in South Africa and the United States. ...

Don Giovanni

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11 August 2014

Enterprisingly, Opera Australia has enticed Scottish director David McVicar to create new productions of three Mozart operas, beginning with Don Giovanni, currently playing in Sydney (Figaro and Così will follow in 2015 and 2016, respectively). We saw the fifth of thirteen performances scheduled in this long opening season, and already the prod ...