Michael Morley

Michael Morley

Michael Morley is Emeritus Professor of Drama at Flinders University. He has written theatre and music reviews and articles for a variety of publications, including Theatre Australia, the National Times, The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, Opera News (New York), the Kurt Weill Newsletter, the Sondheim Review, the Adelaide Review, and Australian Book Review. He has also contributed translations for the English edition of the collected poems of Alfred Brendel.

Saul (Adelaide Festival)

ABR Arts 06 March 2017
Saul (Adelaide Festival)
If one accepts the aptness of the old adage ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’, the range of pictorial delights offered by Barrie Kosky’s production of Handel’s oratorio Saul (1739) would test my editor’s word limit – generous though they always are. The stage teems with vivid tableaux: one moment, vivid, swirling crowds of chorus and soloists; the next, stark, austere images of ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Nicholas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music' by Vincent Giroud

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
Michael Morley reviews 'Nicholas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music' by Vincent Giroud
In an interview from 1978, the year of Nicolas Nabokov's death (he was born in 1903 in Lubcza, now in Belarus), which is included in the epilogue to this volume, Isaiah Berlin summed up some of the qualities of the cosmopolitan figure he seems to have considered his best friend: He was a very cultivated man: I found him to be one of the most civilized men I ever met, a perfect representative of t ... (read more)

Nelken (Carnations): Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016)

ABR Arts 15 March 2016
Nelken (Carnations): Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016)
Over decades of productions in the Festival Theatre, I can recall a handful of experiences that resulted in immediate, unprompted, and collective standing ovations, beginning with the unforgettable journey that was Richard Wherrett's epic staging of Nicholas Nickleby (1983). Pina Bausch's dance-theatre piece Nelken (Carnations) joined this list during the Adelaide Festival's final week – along w ... (read more)

Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016

ABR Arts 07 March 2016
Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016
The two high-profile theatre productions featured at this year's Adelaide Festival – the National Theatre of Scotland's imaginative and engaging account of the life and times of the three King Jameses, The James Plays Trilogy (★★★★), and Romeo Castellucci's mostly impenetrable take on, supposedly, some aspects of the life of Moses, Go Down Moses (0 stars) – could not have been more dif ... (read more)

Benjamin Grosvenor Recital (Recitals Australia)

ABR Arts 10 November 2015
By now, it is more or less de rigueur to prefix comments on Benjamin Grosvenor's abilities at the keyboard by mentioning his age. Well, yes, it has to be said that, at twenty-three, there is more than a touch of the Wunderkind about what he does. But make no mistake: this is a serious, talented, imaginative, and committed musician who makes some of his more hyped competitors seem, by comparison, a ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Naked Cinema' by Sally Potter

April 2015, no. 370 26 March 2015
Michael Morley reviews 'Naked Cinema' by Sally Potter
Whereas library shelves tend to sag beneath the weight of volumes penned by, and intended for, theatre actors and directors, the number of comparable handbooks, instruction manuals, and studies pitched at their cinematic colleagues is rather thinner on the ground. To be sure, there are crucial works by David Mamet, Patrick Tucker, and Janet Sonnenberg, along with books such as Michael Caine’s mo ... (read more)

Samuel Beckett and James Joyce in Adelaide

ABR Arts 04 March 2015
One might be pardoned for assuming, from the preponderance of mono-dramas at this year’s Adelaide Festival, that some mix of budgetary pressures and theatrical taste has meant that drama even the minimal Greek combination of three theatrical presences is not high on the director’s shopping list. Elsewhere, as in Perth during its recent Festival, there are theatre offerings ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Forbidden Music: The Jewish composers banned by the Nazis' by Michael Haas and 'Hollywood and Hitler' by Thomas Doherty

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
Michael Morley reviews 'Forbidden Music: The Jewish composers banned by the Nazis' by Michael Haas and 'Hollywood and Hitler' by Thomas Doherty
For all their differences of subject matter and approach (not to mention style), both of these studies can be seen as belonging to the category of what might be termed archaeological history. That is, they are concerned with retrieving and bringing to the surface a gallery of characters and set of important stories and connections which have been either suppressed or ignored. In the case of Micha ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'Freedom and the Arts: Essays on Music and Literature' by Charles Rosen

February 2013, no. 348 28 January 2013
Michael Morley reviews 'Freedom and the Arts: Essays on Music and Literature' by Charles Rosen
In one of the most penetrating essays in this wide-ranging collection, the pianist and scholar Charles Rosen, while addressing the topic of ‘La Fontaine: The Ethical Power of Style’, notes in an aside: ‘What is original in Montaigne is the strange path he takes to arrive at the idea.’ It is an observation that might be equally well applied to the author of the twenty-eight pieces in this v ... (read more)

Michael Morley reviews 'The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume II: 1941–1956' edited by George Craig et al.

May 2012, no. 341 23 April 2012
Michael Morley reviews 'The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume II: 1941–1956' edited by George Craig et al.
In a 2009 interview linked to his production of Endgame in which he played Clov, the actor–director Simon McBurney observed that ‘nearly all theatre colleagues I meet have a Beckett story’. My own (second-hand) favourite Beckett story, told me by the Brecht scholar and former deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement John Willett, might seem too drolly apposite to be true: but he assure ... (read more)
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