Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel”

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Opera articles, The power of the libretto, Uncategorized

When it seemed that Wagner’s music-dramas were un-toppable, his one-time assistant Engelbert Humperdinck showed that the way forward lay in going back to folk-tunes and fairytales, a world delightfully captured in Richard Sparks’ new English translation of Adelheid Wette’s libretto. But for World War I, he might have ended up in Australia. These were among […]

Some reflections on The Kid

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American culture, Dramatizing the world's music, Loving Oz and the US, Music and film, My blog, Uncategorized

We’ve been down to Olvera Street in Downtown many times. Historically, it’s important as the site of the original Los Angeles pueblo. The oldest house in the city is there – the Avila Adobe (1818). But recently we noticed a make-shift sign next to a doorway. It pointed out that thousands of people pass this […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Classical aspirations (Philippa, an opera)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in American culture, Culture in general, Dramatizing the world's music, My blog, Observations, Philippa - an opera in progress, Uncategorized

Continuing my series of blogs on the development of the opera Philippa, based on the life of Philippa Duke Schuyler, the Harlem-born concert pianist (daughter of African-American journalist George S. Schuyler and white Texan Josephine Cogdell), who died in Vietnam in 1967 rescuing ‘the orphans’, the children of US servicemen and Vietnamese women… So much of […]

Utulura inkantjaku (Let’s get together and sing): – Australian Aboriginal Music and the Classical Music Strand*

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Australian culture, Music articles, My blog, Opera articles, Songlines, Uncategorized

Since European settlement, Australian composers have engaged with Aboriginal music mainly as a way of identifying with this country, with place.  How does this compare with other countries? An eagle bone flute is almost a cliché in American ambience music. But it is fair to say that engagement in Australia has only groped towards higher […]