Peter Rose

Conceived during a holiday in the spa-town of Marienbad, Lohengrin stands at the crossroads of Richard Wagner’s operatic oeuvre: it was the last work composed before his political exile (as a result of his participation in the Dresden Uprising) while offering a glimpse of the leitmotivic technique that would become the signature of his late style.

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2 am. Prompter than usual. Nocturnal emails, / a commonplace book to aphorise – fillipia! / I write to someone in Oxford, then Wagga, / pondering the etiquette of commissioning / in the middle of the night.

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Lohengrin 

by
16 May 2022

Not long before the 1845 première of Tannhäuser, Richard Wagner was holidaying at the spa of Marienbad. He had with him a copy of the anonymous German epic Lohengrin, and he was possessed. Ever the sensualist, he described the impact in luxurious terms:

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La Traviata 

by
09 May 2022

Opera Australia’s Melbourne season began on 4 May with a revival of Elijah Moshinsky’s 1994 production of La Traviata, often seen here before. The season ends on 28 May, with eight more performances. It’s a short work, with four scenes each about thirty minutes long, ideal for those new to opera or keen for melodic relief from election discord.

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In this special episode of The ABR Podcast, Peter Rose reads the second and concluding instalment of his 2021 diary, taking us from July to December. These entries continue his chronicle of life under rolling lockdowns – not only for himself, but also for his mother, Elsie, who had moved into aged care earlier that year because of her declining health. Against the arrhythmic schedule of closures and prohibitions, faint tracings of the pre-pandemical world appear: birthday celebrations, an English batting collapse, email trouble, a high five. Written under a cloud of personal and collective uncertainty, these diaries record a son’s observance of his mother’s last days. Elsie Rose died at the age of ninety-five on 15 March 2022.

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For his sins, Peter Rose has always kept a diary. Over the years, ABR has occasionally published extracts, which have tended to consist of annual highlights laced with gossip and humour. The 2021 instalment is rather different in tone. The lockdowns occasioned by the pandemic also coincided with a marked deterioration in the health of his mother, who moved into aged care in March last year. 

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January 1 Hindmarsh Island. Rose early and sped across the water to inspect the wetlands where hundreds of ibis were roosting – a marvellous sight. But we won’t be going to New South Wales in the middle of the month, following a Covid outbreak in Sydney. Victoria has closed the border, causing much predictable lamentation.

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‘Other biographers write about him as if he were a normal person, not the weirdest man who ever lived.’ So says Frances Wilson, British author of the book Burning Man (Bloomsbury), a radical new biography of the captivating and contentious D.H. Lawrence. Geordie Williamson, who reviewed Burning Man for ABR’s August issue, described it as a ‘meta-biography’ that is ‘lovely on the page, often thrilling in its daring’. In today’s episode, Wilson sits down with ABR Editor Peter Rose to discuss the complexities of writing about the enigmatic Lawrence. 

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Day flicks its cards, laconic. / Even in April, a flamboyance of colour: / stray perfume for the pent. Burnt leaves / drift away one by one, like concert-goers ...

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The subtitle of Janet Malcolm’s new book (published in Australia by Melbourne University Press) is Gertrude and Alice. Few names of literary couples can be so confidently trimmed. Scott and Zelda, Ted and Sylvia, George and Martha … all those happy couples. Gertrude and Alice has been used before, as the main title of Diana Souyhami’s joint study (1991), and will doubtless be used again. Their fame is an achieved and bankable thing, notwithstanding the fact that Gertrude Stein (1874– 1946) – whose books included Three Lives (1909), The Making of Americans (1925) and the wonderfully titled A Long Gay Book (1932) – remains perhaps the least read of the modernists.

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