Michael Halliwell reviews 'The Marriage of Figaro' (Opera Australia)

Michael Halliwell

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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Ian Dickson reviews 'Master Class' (Left Bauer Productions)

Ian Dickson

Cunningly promoted by her recording company, EMI, the Callas myth took off after her death on 16 September 1977 and continues to resonate to this day. Undeterred by Franco Zeffirelli’s excruciating screen homage to the diva, Callas Forever (2002), Callas projects starring Meryl Streep and Noomi Rapace have been announced.

Like most my ... More

Michael Halliwell reviews 'The Oxford Handbook of Opera' edited by Helen M. Greenwald

Michael Halliwell

Orpheus – composer and singer of his own song – is regarded as the founding figure of opera. One of the most arresting images of Orpheus is of his death – his dismembered head on his lyre floating down a river, still singing. Opera’s history is dogged by its own death wish; the art form has been pronounced dying, or even dead almost from its inception, yet z ... More

Sweeney Todd (Victorian Opera)

Tim Byrne

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 superfi More

I Puritani (Victorian Opera)

Peter Rose

‘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 ... More

The Barber of Seville (Melbourne Opera)

Rob Holdsworth

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 ... More

Tristan und Isolde (Sydney Symphony Orchestra)

Michael Halliwell

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 ... More

Don Carlos (Opera Australia)

Alastair Jackson

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 ... More

Elektra (Bayerische Staatsoper)

Peter Rose

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 ... More

Ian Dickson reviews 'Fly Away Peter' (Sydney Chamber Opera)

Ian Dickson

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 ... More

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