'When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.’ It issurely one of the most celebrated, and arresting, opening lines in all literature – very ‘Kafkaesque’, in fact! It was just a matter of time before The Metamorphosis ...... (read more)
Australian operas set in the outback are not uncommon, though urban backgrounds are far more prevalent in contemporary works. Contemporary fiction and cinema, by contrast, often have outback and regional Australia as their setting. Several operas engage with the most enduring myths ...... (read more)
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Desdemona’s plangent, soaring phrase at the end of the ‘Willow Song’ in Verdi’s penultimate opera, Otello, has been described as the last despairing cry of the bel canto. After many years of relentless tragedies, Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff, would be a bubbling and effervescent comedy – only his second in his illustrious career ...... (read more)
It is the fate of nearly all new operas to disappear quickly after an initial run of performances, so it was with much anticipation that Australian audiences had the opportunity to see Brett Dean’s Hamlet, triumphantly premièred at Glyndebourne in June 2017 ...... (read more)
It is a particular pleasure for an opera lover, even a hard-bitten critic, to watch a career develop and blossom. Nicole Car, making her role début as Violetta for Opera Australia, is one such singer. Audiences have enjoyed her in a series of important roles ...... (read more)
Michael Halliwell reviews 'The Politics of Opera: A History from Monteverdi to Mozart' by Mitchell Cohen
A major new exhibition opened at the end of September at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: Opera: Passion, Power and Politics. The first of the three qualifying terms needs little explanation as a potential subject; as the title of Peter Conrad’s book ...
The political and sexual machinations on the stage at Angel Place in Sydney, ostensibly depicting an event during the inglorious reign of Emperor Nero in 54–68 CE, might be interpreted in a very contemporary light in terms of politics and society. An opera that represents ruthless political ambition allied to lust, cruelty, corruption ...... (read more)
Michael Halliwell interviews Australian composer, violist, and conductor Brett Dean for the ABR Podcast. Dean composed the opera Bliss based on the Peter Carey novel, and was for many years a violist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was the Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music(ANAM) in Melbourne, and is now a ...
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.... (read more)