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Opera

Tannhäuser 

Opera Australia
by
18 May 2023

Let’s start with the complexities of the opera itself. The trouble with Tannhäuser is that Wagner, always his own worst enemy (but only just), could not leave it alone. Its performance history is more or less bookended by the two distinct versions of the opera: the original 1845 Dresden version; and the Paris one of 1861, commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III. I

... (read more)
Of all the major operas, Siegfried had the most curious gestation. After completing Act II in 1857, Wagner put it aside for twelve years, ‘as if weary of Siegfried’s progress: this improbable hero’s search for love, fulfilment, individuation’. ... (read more)
One hundred and seventy years after thousands of desperadoes and gold-cravers trekked to a place called Sandhurst, Wagnerites set off to Bendigo on Friday afternoon (in rather more orderly fashion it must be said, along the potholed Calder Freeway) for the opening night of Melbourne Opera’s first full production of Der Ring des Nibelungen. ... (read more)

A Deep Black Sleep 

IHOS
by
28 February 2023
In 1990, composer and artistic director Konstantin Koukias and production director Werner Ihlenfeld founded IHOS Opera in Tasmania. Audiences were excited and astonished by the scale and ambition of the director’s vision when they attended his earlier, spectacular productions such as Days and Nights of Christ, To Traverse Water, and Tesla. ... (read more)

Adriana Lecouvreur 

Opera Australia
by
21 February 2023
Francesco Cilea’s (1866–1950) most successful opera, Adriana Lecouvreur (1902), is a work steeped in melodrama and the theatrical, but there was perhaps a little too much ‘drama’ at the première of Opera Australia’s production on Monday night. ... (read more)

Michael Fabiano in Concert 

Opera Australia
by
13 February 2023
The acoustics in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre are rightly celebrated. The hall offers shrewd and attentive musicians a rare kind of sonic ambience. We heard two further demonstrations of this last week, when the English pianist Paul Lewis returned to MRC with two more of his Schubert recitals (six sonatas in all) – superlative playing of the greatest finesse. Lewis, who never milks anything – not a phrase nor a post-concert talk – later referred to the Murdoch as one of his favourite concert halls in the world. ... (read more)

Antarctica 

Sydney Chamber Opera
by
10 January 2023

Picture the scene …

A space. Empty. A fall of white ash which covers all surfaces, enveloping in a fine whiteness. A party of futuristic explorers trudge through the frozen steppes. They are in the colours of artificial, twenty-first century Antarctic wear – bright red, yellows oranges. they come across a figure, buried in the whiteness, near to death, frozen. It is a girl, dressed in nineteenth-century clothes – sepias, browns, deep greens. They warm her, wrap her in insulative blankets. She begins to stammer out her story, a fantastic tale …

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A Christmas Carol 

by
16 December 2022
1843 was quite the year in Christmas lore. It can boast both the first Christmas cards, commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, and the first edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Our passion for the former may have ebbed a little in the age of digital communication, but Dickens’s novella – albeit most commonly in one of its many theatrical adaptations – continues to draw our interest. Melbourne is currently hosting the Old Vic production of Jack Thorne’s adaptation at the Comedy Theatre (with David Wenham as Scrooge). Now it also has an opera première: composer Graeme Koehne and librettist Anna Goldsworthy’s version for Victorian Opera. ... (read more)

Fidelio 

Sydney Symphony Orchestra
by
25 November 2022
Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, was one of his most troublesome compositions; the work has never ceased to engender critical controversy, yet remains deeply revered and popular. Thursday’s concert performance at the Sydney Opera House proved no exception in terms of troublesome complications, but more of that later. ... (read more)

Awakening Shadow 

Sydney Chamber Opera
by
03 October 2022

Understandably, the focal point of musical interest in Sydney in recent months has been Bennelong Point, more specifically the newly revamped Concert Hall at the Opera House. Central here has been the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the new leadership of Simone Young, offering a series of wide-ranging and exhilarating concerts. But there has been other music making. Sydney’s indefatigable Sydney Chamber Opera has not been idle, and Friday saw the première of Awakening Shadow, an intriguing new/old work by Australian expatriate composer, Luke Styles, It comprises a melding of original music by Styles that enfolds the five Canticles of Benjamin Britten (1913–76).

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