Beautiful…sad: Puccini’s La bohème

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Loretta: That was so awful. Ronny: Awful? Loretta: Beautiful… sad. She died! John Patrick Shanley Moonstruck (dir. Norman Jewison, 1987) In the 1987 film, Moonstruck, Ronny Cammareri (Nicholas Cage) woos Loretta Castorini (Cher) by taking her to La bohème at ‘the Met’. In the Third Act, as the two principals on stage touch hands through […]

Squeezed full of life – Prokofiev’s ‘ceaseless chain of contrasted incidents’

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In Act III of Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, the Prince has found his true-love, the last of three fantastic oranges, Princess Ninetta, and saved her with a refreshing drink. ‘At last, a real fairytale with tunes that we can hum’ sing the commentators, the ‘Lyrics’, in Tom Stoppard’s translation of Prokofiev’s libretto. Except that […]

Parsifal’s Act Two

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Richard Wagner (1813-1883) Parsifal, Act II: Prelude… ‘Parsifal! – Weile!’… (Parsifal, stay!) Parsifal, first performed in 1882, was Wagner’s last opera, or music drama, as he called his stage works. There is evidence to suggest he knew it would be his last statement on themes that had obsessed him throughout his life – the conflicts […]

“…profound score…convoluted plot” – Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra”

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Simon Boccanegra contains some of Verdi’s finest music from any period of his career. It’s undoubtedly a masterpiece. But it has problems – ‘…profound score but convoluted plot’, said Anthony Tommasini in an April 2016 New York Times review of a production at the Met. We can’t ignore those problems really; a theatre audience is […]

Should it be an opera? (or should a biography be a film?)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Australian culture, Journey to Horseshoe Bend, Music and film, My blog, Opera articles, Strehlow, The power of the libretto, Uncategorized, Words

Should it be an opera? (or should a biography be a film?) – transcript of a talk given to the Strehlow conference ‘Where do we go from here’?’ Sep 24, 2014 Should it be an opera? – dramatising the Strehlow story The details of T.G.H. Strehlow’s life provide immense opportunities for dramatically illuminating Aboriginal/European relations […]

Path of the Jade – synopsis for an imaginary opera

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Classical music looks increasingly to Asia for inspiration these days. What might an Asian classic suggest for opera? The Dream of the Red Chamber is a Chinese classic from 18th century, with Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese versions. I decided to cull a synopsis, which I called… The Path of the Jade, based on Cao Xue-qin’s […]

Experimental City –

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Experimental City – Los Angeles’ operatic dimensions When people think Los Angeles, they often think Hollywood and ‘Hollywood’ tends to be a byword for glitz and superficiality. But Los Angeles is also a home to musical experimentation. The groundbreaking Monday Evening Concerts that started on the roof of Peter and Frances Yates’ home in Silver […]

Brunnhilde’s Immolation Scene

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Continuing my series of program notes: Richard Wagner (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung: ‘Starke scheite…’ (Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene) ‘Let great logs be brought to the bank and heaped in a mighty pile. Let the flames…consume the noble corpse of this first of all men.’ So sings Brünnhilde in the spectacular end not only to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, but his […]

Love-death and Isolde’s Transfiguration

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Continuing my series of program notes: Richard Wagner (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod It is ironic that Tristan und Isolde was written while Wagner took a break from what would become his epic 15-hour masterpiece, The Ring of the Nibelung. Tristan, first staged in 1865, is itself a pinnacle of music history. In […]