For all its intense brevity, Salome is notoriously difficult to stage and perform. Richard Strauss might have adroitly described his opera (first performed in 1905) as ‘a scherzo with a fatal conclusion’, but his great admirer Gustav Mahler was closer to the mark when he said ‘deeply at work in it … is a live volcano, a subterranean fire’. Both points of view were more than justified by this generally fine performance of Salome.... (read more)
The Europeans: Three lives and the making of a cosmopolitan culture by Orlando Figes
The trouble with musical longevity as it affects conductors, especially ones we see often, is they are always the age we expect them to be as against the age they once were. From the vantage point of the present, therefore, it is tempting to regard Sir Andrew Davis as having always been the person he is now; a sort of reverse-Peter Pan whose youth we are incapable of imagining.... (read more)
This charming, persuasive, and glowing concert performance of Hansel and Gretel, part of Andrew Davis’s final Melbourne Symphony Orchestra season before he steps down as chief conductor, more than proved (if proof is required) what an outstanding opera conductor he is. Maybe, in future seasons, when Davis returns as the orchestra’s conductor laureate, there will be more: perhaps Berg’s Lulu, another of the maestro’s favourite operas, which the MSO would perform magnificently.... (read more)
To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites.... (read more)
Let it be said – indeed proclaimed – that Opera Australia’s new production of Wagner’s paean to life and art and love is musically as close to a triumph as it could have been. If, by the end, you feel the outside world is a better place than the one you temporarily abandoned six hours earlier, then Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg has surely wrought ...
Opera is not a small artform. It is labyrinthine, multi-faceted, fraught with things that can go disastrously wrong (Wagner, especially), and it can be dreadfully expensive, formidably divisive, and astonishingly complicated. At the same time, opera is so necessarily crucial to culture as a reflection of history, thought, and ...... (read more)