ABR Arts Opera

Moby-Dick ★★★★ and Billy Budd ★★★★

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 23 May 2019

Given his towering position in the pantheon of American authors, it is surprising that the bicentenary year of the birth of Herman Melville, born on 1 August 1819 in New York, is passing with such little fanfare. However, this reviewer recently managed to catch performances of opera versions of his two most famous creations ...

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Dr Johnson famously defined opera as ‘an exotic and irrational entertainment’, and so it proved on the opening night of Opera Australia’s autumn season – at least until the curtain went up. Lights down, photography admonition underway, conductor due any moment, we became aware of a strange incident in the gloom, as a solitary figure ...

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West Side Story (Opera Australia) ★★★

Peter Tregear
Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Some sixty-two years after its Broadway première, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’s musical and geographical updating of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to pack a powerful dramatic punch. While not without its weaknesses, such as the reliance on now-dated street slang and ethnic stereotypes ...

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Salome (Opera Australia) ★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Thursday, 07 March 2019

Alex Ross, at the start of his acclaimed survey of twentieth-century music, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the twentieth century, describes in vivid detail the luminaries gathered for one of the first performances of Richard Strauss’s Salome in Graz on 16 May 1906, five months after the Dresden première ...

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The Magic Flute (Adelaide Festival) ★★★★1/2

Steve Dow
Monday, 04 March 2019

Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute, is a staple of Germany’s opera houses, and continues to be frequently produced in theatres internationally. Melbourne-born Barrie Kosky found himself under pressure to deliver a production of the 1791 Singspiel – comic opera with spoken dialogue ...

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Ned Kelly (Lost & Found Opera) ★★★

Humphrey Bower
Monday, 25 February 2019

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sadly, this might serve as a motto both for Ned Kelly himself and for Lost and Found Opera’s recent production of Luke Styles and Peter Goldsworthy’s interesting new opera. Personally, I’ve always found the national obsession with Kelly somewhat cringe-worthy ...

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Karl V (Bayerische Staatsoper) ★★★★

Peter Tregear
Friday, 15 February 2019

The corpulent form of Henry VIII understandably dominates our own historical imagining of the turbulent first half of the sixteenth century. From the perspective of continental Europe, however, other figures loom just as large. Indeed, even the English Reformation has the actions of another monarch at its epicentre ...

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The Flying Dutchman (Melbourne Opera) ★★★1/2

Barney Zwartz
Monday, 04 February 2019

It is easy to overlook – this side of The Ring and Tristan und Isolde – quite how radical Wagner’s first distinctly Wagnerian opera, The Flying Dutchman, really was. Written in Paris, where grand opera was utterly dominant, the opera broke with the form, style, and subject matter of grand opera and introduced Wagner’s own concepts ...

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Les Troyens (Opéra National de Paris) ★★★★

Christopher Menz
Monday, 04 February 2019

This year is huge for the Opéra National de Paris. It celebrates the 350th anniversary of the founding of Académie Royale de Musique in 1669, the thirtieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Opéra Bastille in 1989, and the 150th anniversary of the death of Hector Berlioz. Les Troyens (The Trojans) opened the ...

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Wozzeck (Opera Australia) ★★★★

Michael Halliwell
Tuesday, 29 January 2019

It is often observed that we live in an age of ‘directors’ opera’, where the name of the director precedes the name of the opera, never mind the composer. Yet there remain relatively few directors who have become indelibly associated with a particular visual style. South African William Kentridge is one ...

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