ABR Arts Music

It was refreshing, to say the least, that two sets of concerts given by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Opera House in mid-February had the symphonies of Robert Schumann as their theme. With two symphonies assigned to each program it was possible in less than a week to hear the entire sta ...

The huge Town Hall crowd who surged to their feet to applaud – and go on applauding – the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic’s twilight performance of Messiah did not do so ‘like sheep’, nor like a last-night-at-the-Proms booster crowd. Their gesture had more in common with King George II’s reputed rising in glad awe for the Hallelujah Chorus during t ...

2014 Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival

Des Cowley
10 November 2014

There was a genuinely celebratory air to this year’s Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival, and why not, given that the Festival was marking its twenty-fifth birthday. When the city first hit upon jazz as the basis for a festival back in 1989 – a somewhat arbitrary decision, based on the fact that most other musical forms had already been snapped up – few could h ...

Rodelinda (Melbourne Chamber Orchestra)

Peter Rose
05 October 2014

There were few opportunities to hear Handel’s opera Rodelinda, regina de’ Longobardi during the two centuries that followed its première in 1725. Although the opera was a great success at first (Handel said of the 1731 London revival, ‘it took’), it soon fell into obscurity, along with most of Handel’s many operas. A ...

Here is a fine new Australian opera from Victorian Opera. Composer Iain Grandage and librettist Alison Croggon have taken Tim Winton’s Booker-shortlisted novel The Riders (1994) and created a highly expressive work. Marion Potts directs it on a wide but stark stage furnished only with wooden saw horses. There is a balcony and a revolve, but mostly Potts cho ...

The Magic Flute (Opera Australia)

Robert Gibson
22 September 2014

English Mozart scholar Edward J. Dent once dismissed the libretto of The Magic Flute as ‘one of the most absurd specimens of that form of literature in which absurdity is regarded as a matter of course’. Michael Gow’s generally marvellous translation and adaptation of Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto for Mozart’ ...

Jonas Kaufmann in Concert

Peter Rose
18 August 2014

Six words would suffice to describe Jonas Kaufmann’s Melbourne début. He came, he sang, he conquered.

This was Kaufmann’s second appearance in Australia, after a gala in Sydney (repeated on August 17). It’s not often that an impresario or Opera Australia manages to lure a great tenor to this country. The inimitable Carlo Bergonzi visited in 1979 and g ...

Jandamarra (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

Ian Dickson
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 ...

'Strictly Ballroom'

Jonathan Dunk
17 April 2014

When culture worships youth, what does an ageing artist make of his myth?

Most viewers of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical will enjoy themselves to a certain extent and for a certain duration. While my own misgivings were frequent, the large audience received the show warmly and rose, albeit half-heartedly, at the curtain call. The show rests on the s ...

Hobart Baroque

Ian Dickson
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 ar ...