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Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As Bee.

Santa Fe Opera House 2014 Festival Season

ABR Arts 14 August 2014
The Santa Fe opera house has a location as dramatic as Sydney’s. Perched on the top of a hill overlooking the town, it looks across the valley to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. What started out in 1957 as an open-air theatre has over the years grown a roof which covers the stage and auditorium, but the sides of the auditorium and back of the stage are still open to the elements. The operas are ... (read more)

Jandamarra (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 21 July 2014
For two non-indigenous artists to take a story that has deep meaning for an indigenous community and turn it into a dramatic cantata is an exploit fraught with danger. Australian culture is littered with attempts by white artists to incorporate indigenous themes into their works; works which have foundered due to their authors’ patronising assumption that they can appropriate the trappings of an ... (read more)

Hedda Gabler | Belvoir St Theatre

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
Hedda Gabler (1890) occupies a somewhat schizophrenic position in Henrik Ibsen’s work. On the one hand, it is normally seen as the apotheosis of Ibsen’s realist period, his sardonic homage to the fashionable ‘well-made play’ of the time. But, on the other hand, from early in its theatrical life there have been productions which have reacted against the naturalistic style in which the play ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Inside the Dream Palace: The life and times of New York's legendary Chelsea hotel' by Sherill Tippins

June–July 2014, no. 362 01 June 2014
In the heyday of Manhattan hotels, the Chelsea Hotel had its own special niche. The Pierre exuded wealth and exclusivity, the Plaza a sort of bourgeois glamour as the place where the bridge and tunnel crowd would throw caution to the wind and rent a corner suite for big occasions, and the Algonquin, with its round table and Hamlet the cat, radiated intellectual chic. The Chelsea had a sleazy, dang ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews Handel's 'Orlando' at Hobart Baroque

May 2014, no. 361 02 April 2014
Hobart is the ideal place in which to have a festival. Big enough to have other attractions but small enough so that the festival becomes a major event rather than just another diversion. A walk through Battery Point, followed by a long lunch at Salamanca Place with congenial fellow festival goers, or a trip out to MONA to wander through the psyche of David Walsh are exceptional ways to spend the ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'The Leonard Bernstein Letters', edited by Nigel Simeone

April 2014, no. 360 28 March 2014
There once was a boy named LennyWhose talents were varied and manySo many that he was inclinedNever to make up his mindIn fact he was so giftedHe never felt upliftedJust undefined.Poor Lenny – ten gifts too manyThe curse of being versatile.To show how bad the curse isWe’ll need a lot of versesAnd take a little Weill. Lauren Bacall performed Stephen Sondheim’s spoof of Kurt Weill’s ‘Jenn ... (read more)

Once in Royal David’s City

March 2014, no. 359 27 February 2014
At a time when a convicted drug smuggler is rumoured to be about to collect a fortune for her remarkably unremarkable story and when we are heading into a new round of so-called ‘culture wars’, in which an extraordinary amount of heat will be generated with precious little light accompanying it, it is refreshing to be presented with another of Michael Gow’s forensic explorations of the world ... (read more)

The Perfect American (English National Opera)

ABR Arts 24 June 2013
English National Opera audiences are notable for their complete lack of bling. On opening nights they ostentatiously dress down, in opposition to their social butterfly Covent Garden counterparts, as if to state that they are there for the opera alone. The London opening of The Perfect American, Philip Glass’s opera based on the life of Walt Disney, was no exception. At openings of Wagner’s Ri ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Wotan’s Daughter: The life of Marjorie Lawrence' by Richard Davis

June 2013, no. 352 27 May 2013
The career of Marjorie Lawrence is one of the great might-have-beens of operatic history. The saga of a young Australian woman who, in an astonishingly short period of time, became a leading singer first at the Paris Opéra and then at New York’s Metropolitan and who was poised to become the Met’s prima donna assoluta in the Wagnerian repertory when disaster struck, sounds like a script for th ... (read more)