‘The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one.’ George Frideric Handel’s much-quoted explanation for the lack of success of Theodora, his penultimate oratorio, may or may not be accurate, but there is no doubt about its failure. After an original run of just three performances i ... More
Peter Rose interviews American Soprano Amber Wagner for the ABR Podcast following the first cycle of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, which is being presented in Melbourne by Opera Australia. Amber Wagner plays the role of Sieglinde in the second opera Die Walküre.
I hope no one from Australia's various intelligence agencies is reading this, or they may be affronted. But for me, Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene's purported black comedy about an ingenious vacuum cleaner salesman deceiving Britain's MI6, has a marvellous ring of verisimilitude.
Indeed Greene, who worked for the spy agency for a while, got the id ... More
In 1852 Richard Wagner issued instructions to opera houses planning to stage Tannhäuser. It had closed after only four performances when it opened in Dresden in 1845 – conducted by the composer without most of the scenery, delayed in transport – but was now attracting wide attention. His essay (14,309 words in English translation) was typically didacti ... More
Mozart's third great collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, Così fan tutte, has enjoyed a chequered performance history since its première in the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1790, a year before Mozart's death. Its initial series of performances were interrupted by the death of Emperor Joseph II, and bad luck seemed to dog the opera throughout much o ... More
British director, Nicholas Hytner, remarking on its indestructibility, once observed that one could set The Marriage of Figaro on the moon as long as the doors were in the right place. In fact, not such a strange idea, as Mozart’s great contemporary, Joseph Haydn, had set his opera Il mondo della luna (‘The World on the Moon’) exactly there.... More
Cunningly promoted by her recording company, EMI, the Callas myth took off after her death on 16 September 1977 and continues to resonate to this day. Undeterred by Franco Zeffirelli’s excruciating screen homage to the diva, Callas Forever (2002), Callas projects starring Meryl Streep and Noomi Rapace have been announced.
Like most my ... More
Orpheus – composer and singer of his own song – is regarded as the founding figure of opera. One of the most arresting images of Orpheus is of his death – his dismembered head on his lyre floating down a river, still singing. Opera’s history is dogged by its own death wish; the art form has been pronounced dying, or even dead almost from its inception, yet z ... More