ABR Arts Opera

The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Australia)

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 24 August 2015

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.

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Sweeney Todd (Victorian Opera)

Tim Byrne
Monday, 20 July 2015

In the argument over the programming of Broadway musicals by Australia’s opera companies, it is usually assumed that audiences know the difference between the two forms. But even superficial markers can be misleading. Bizet’s Carmen (1875) uses dialogue and song forms that are traditionally associated with the musical, but is classified as an

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I Puritani (Victorian Opera)

Peter Rose
Monday, 06 July 2015

‘In my Eden a person who dislikes Bellini has the good manners not to get born,’ wrote W.H. Auden in his poem ‘Vespers’ (1954). Like much of Auden’s table-talk, this may seem rather extreme, but those who attended last Thursday’s concert version of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani may have gone away with similarly exclusive thoughts.

Though ...

The Barber of Seville (Melbourne Opera)

Rob Holdsworth
Monday, 29 June 2015

Writing to a friend in 1898, Giuseppe Verdi said of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville:

You may say things about Rossini and they may be true regarding the borrowings, the speed of composition and so forth, but I confess that I cannot help believing ‘The Barber of Seville’ for abundance of ideas, for verve and for truth of dec ...

Tristan und Isolde (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

Michael Halliwell
Monday, 22 June 2015

A music teacher in Thomas Mann’s early novel, Buddenbrooks (1900), when presented with some piano arrangements of Tristan und Isolde, recoils in terror: ‘I won’t play this ... This is not music ... It is pure chaos! It is demagoguery, blasphemy, and madness! It is the end of all morality in the arts. I will not pl ...

Don Carlos (Opera Australia)

Alastair Jackson
Monday, 25 May 2015

Passion and politics often go hand in hand – and never more so than in Don Carlos, arguably Verdi’s greatest opera. Based on the historically questionable play by Friedrich von Schiller, it is certainly the composer’s grandest and most ambitious work and the most demanding of his career. Because of church and state inte ...

Elektra (Bayerische Staatsoper)

Peter Rose
Monday, 25 May 2015

Our European summer holiday began in Munich – surprisingly cold and drizzly – perfect weather for long sessions in the Alte Pinakothek. This is one of the more forbidding of the great galleries, with its battered façade showing all the evidence of extensive bombing during World War II and a utilitarian rebuilding by Hans Döllg ...

Fly Away Peter (Sydney Chamber Opera)

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 07 May 2015

Of all the many projects commemorating the centenary of World War I and the Anzacs’ contribution to it, the creation of an opera from David Malouf’s magnificent novella Fly Away Peter (1981) would seem to be one of the most demanding.

The story follows the young, bird-obsessed Jim Saddler f ...

Madama Butterfly (Opera Australia)

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 05 May 2015

Opera Australia’s autumn season in Melbourne with two revivals – one very familiar; the other in its second season, and its first on the bigger Melbourne stage. Each, responsibly, is on a Monday, not always guaranteed to draw a large audience, but the capacious State Theatre was well attended for the first offering, Madama Butterfly.

Moffa ...

Aida (three stars) is one of the great contradictory operas: grandiose in effect yet intimate in emotional content. How such an imperial chamber piece would translate onto a harbour in front of thousands of people and sundry camels remained to be seen. It was an a ...

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