Ian Dickson

Athalia (Pinchgut Opera) ★★★1/2

Ian Dickson
Monday, 25 June 2018

Following the end of the 1733 London opera season, George Frideric Handel headed to Oxford with his first two oratorios, Esther and Deborah and the newly composed Athalia. While the first two were well enough received, Athalia was a triumph, with newspaper claims that 3,700 people attended the performances ...

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After the vast proportions of her 2013 play, Chimerica (seen here in 2017) – a multi-scene, huge-cast exploration of American–Chinese relations – Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children – a one-set, three-character play – might seem like something of a chamber piece. But if it is physically small in scale, thematically it is even more ...

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The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui was the final play written in the extraordinarily prolific period of Bertolt Brecht’s Scandinavian exile (1939–41), a period that, among other works, produced the first version of Galileo, The Good Person of Szechwan, Mother Courage, and Herr Puntila and His Man Matti ...

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Richard Davis is admirably determined that major Australian musical artists whose careers were attenuated by illness should not fade into oblivion ...

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Top Girls (Sydney Theatre Company) ★★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 19 February 2018

As Van Badham points out in her program essay for the new Sydney Theatre Company production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, when the play was first performed in 1982, Maggie Thatcher had been the British prime minister for three years. The first wave of British feminism in the 1970s had identified the patriarchal structure ...

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Three Sisters (Sydney Theatre Company) ★★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 13 November 2017

After decades of English language Chekhov productions following in the footsteps of Stanislavsky and Komisarjevsky in which historically accurately costumed actors wandered around a stage awash with gloom and torpor declaiming Constance Garnett’s constipated translations, directors finally discovered that the plays were ...

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Norma (Metropolitan Opera) ★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 16 October 2017

Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma elicits the ultimate rose-tinted nostalgia in ageing opera aficionados. Operagoers of my generation wax lyrical about Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballé in their prime, while making disparaging remarks about present singers. We in turn were bored by ancients who admitted that La Callas ...

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For no one were Dryden’s partitions thinner than for Robert Lowell, as Kay Redfield Jamison’s exploration of the links between his work and the manic depressive illness which dogged him for most of his life makes clear. Previous biographers have, with varying degrees of compassion and opprobrium, chronicled the chaos and hurt caused by his manic outbursts.

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Anastasia (Royal Ballet) ★★★

Lee Christofis
Friday, 28 October 2016

Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia is one of several full-length dramas he created on his return to the Royal Ballet in 1971, after directing the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin. It is a hybrid work, incorporating as its third act a famous one-act Anastasia that MacMillan created in Berlin in 1967. A shy ...

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2016 Arts Highlights of the Year

John Allison et al.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016

To highlight Australian Book Review’s arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year’s memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and art exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate some favourites.

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