Barney Zwartz

Almost from the day Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis in 2013, he began denouncing fake devotees, whited sepulchres, and hypocrites at the Vatican. His targets, as Frédéric Martel makes clear, are the high-ranking clergy who vehemently condemn homosexuality while themselves often ...

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The Flying Dutchman (Melbourne Opera) ★★★1/2

Barney Zwartz
Monday, 04 February 2019

It is easy to overlook – this side of The Ring and Tristan und Isolde – quite how radical Wagner’s first distinctly Wagnerian opera, The Flying Dutchman, really was. Written in Paris, where grand opera was utterly dominant, the opera broke with the form, style, and subject matter of grand opera and introduced Wagner’s own concepts ...

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Drive along College Crescent, the circular avenue that forms Melbourne University’s northern order, and you will see the series of sedate, handsome university colleges that line the edge: Newman, Queen’s, Ormond, Trinity, plus the newer women’s colleges of St Mary’s, St Hilda’s, and Janet Clarke Hall. The impression today of quiet élitism and learning may be just, but the weathered stone has seen some turbulent times.

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Der Rosenkavalier (Melbourne Opera) ★★1/2

Barney Zwartz
Friday, 10 August 2018

Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss consciously set out to emulate Mozart in Der Rosenkavalier, and succeeded, creating not only the last great Romantic opera but the most perfect Viennese confection, and Strauss’s most-loved opera. It was an immediate hit ...

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Tristan and Isolde (Melbourne Opera) ★★★★1/2

Barney Zwartz
Tuesday, 06 February 2018

Tristan und Isolde, the opera in which Richard Wagner really took art in a new direction, is often described as the most important musical work of the nineteenth century. No lesser authority than Kobbé calls it the most influential opera in all musical history, while the great Wagner conductor Christian Thielemann says it is ...

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Letters to the Editor - November 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Comments from ABR readers, published in the November Arts Issue of Australian Book Review.

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George Pell is the most polarising religious leader Australia has had in recent decades, certainly since Daniel Mannix – perhaps since Samuel Marsden. For most of his career he has been loathed or adored for his sternly inflexible defence of a Catholic orthodoxy predating the second Vatican Council, his robust and sometimes ...

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Barney Zwartz reviews 'John le Carré' by Adam Sisman

Barney Zwartz
Thursday, 24 March 2016

Of all the stories John le Carré has invented – more than a score of novels, nearly all bestsellers – his own is perhaps the most fascinating. It is dominated by two characters, le Carré himself (real name David Cornwell) and his father, Ronnie.

Biographers naturally pay close attention to the influence of their subjects' parents, but seldom can they e ...

Spotlight ★★★★★

Barney Zwartz
Thursday, 21 January 2016

Often I am not proud of my profession, but there are times – usually when looking beneath the stones that shore up the established order – when journalists change the world for the better. The uncovering of the extent of sexual abuse of children, particularly by Catholic priests, is ...

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