For all its intense brevity, Salome is notoriously difficult to stage and perform. Richard Strauss might have adroitly described his opera (first performed in 1905) as ‘a scherzo with a fatal conclusion’, but his great admirer Gustav Mahler was closer to the mark when he said ‘deeply at work in it … is a live volcano, a subterranean fire’. Both points of view were more than justified by this generally fine performance of Salome.... (read more)
‘Victorian’ may have become for us a byword for hypocrisy and repression, but it’s not hard to find literature of the day that plays against this grain. The Victorian fairy tale is certainly one place where authors did find ways covertly to explore challenging social themes, albeit under the cover of the prescription ‘for children’.... (read more)
The speed with which Gaetano Donizetti wrote his operas almost defies belief, especially in our more leisurely age of composition. Don Pasquale (1843), as we know, was written in eleven days. When Donizetti, newly contracted to Teatro San Carlo, fetched ...
In this era of the jukebox musical, it is not surprising that the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century equivalent, the pasticcio opera, should be undergoing a revival. A couple of seasons ago, New York's Metropolitan Opera created a version, The Enchanted Island, which received a mainly ...... (read more)
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... (read more)