Classical music, opera, musicals etc


#81

Took the family to see the Marvin Gaye show at the Athenaeum last night. It’s very no frills, but good (assuming you’re a Marvin Gaye fan). The two stars are Bert LaBonté who’s an actor who can sing and dance, and Jude Perl, who has a nice voice and a confronting haircut, plus an 8 piece band. They all stand on stage and the two actors tell the story of this life and sing all the hits. They sing them pretty well and the band is good and tight, so a good time was had by all. The show seems to be doing quite well: it was full downstairs and half full upstairs. Everyone left smiling.


#82
Saw Carmen (Australian Opera) on Saturday night. It was good without being great. Wonderful music with a couple of very famous songs brings a smile to one‘s face. And a storyline full of love, lust, tempers and betrayal. And the ubiquitous opera closing death scene, which I thought finished a tad flat. 
 
Carmen was well cast and she looked the part, but at times she was hard to hear when singing in the lower register (and we were in the middle of row D).  But this tends to be the case, with the leads struggling to sing well in both upper and lower registers. Highlight was the company singing as a chorus - they sounded wonderful. 

#83

We went to see the Victorian Opera production of La Traviata last week (yep, third time for La Trav in the last twelve months!)

 

The set was amazing.  There were a series of different canvases with pictures on them covering the stage.  They were able to pull back the top canvas to expose the next one underneath. As the curtain went up, the back wall (which had been lying flat on top of the stage) slowly rose up and ended up on about a 60 degree angle, covered with mirrors, so that it reflected the pictures on the stage, and thus also the singers.

 

The choreography made full use of this, and a number of the songs ended up nearly looking Busby Berkeley-ish, but because the costumes were so lavish and colours so bold, it totally worked. 

 

Jessica Pratt played Violetta, and was superb.

 

The only issue we had was with the acoustics - at times, when they turned towards the back of the stage, it was a little hard to hear.  But otherwise, of the three productions, this was my fave.


#84

We went to see the Victorian Opera production of La Traviata last week (yep, third time for La Trav in the last twelve months!)

 

The set was amazing.  There were a series of different canvases with pictures on them covering the stage.  They were able to pull back the top canvas to expose the next one underneath. As the curtain went up, the back wall (which had been lying flat on top of the stage) slowly rose up and ended up on about a 60 degree angle, covered with mirrors, so that it reflected the pictures on the stage, and thus also the singers.

 

The choreography made full use of this, and a number of the songs ended up nearly looking Busby Berkeley-ish, but because the costumes were so lavish and colours so bold, it totally worked. 

 

Jessica Pratt played Violetta, and was superb.

 

The only issue we had was with the acoustics - at times, when they turned towards the back of the stage, it was a little hard to hear.  But otherwise, of the three productions, this was my fave.

We did VSO in the late 80s, and early to mid(??) 90s. Thought they were superior to the Australian Opera. And I think this was the general view of the critics.  We may need to look into them again. 


#85

 

Saw Carmen (Australian Opera) on Saturday night. It was good without being great. Wonderful music with a couple of very famous songs brings a smile to one‘s face. And a storyline full of love, lust, tempers and betrayal. And the ubiquitous opera closing death scene, which I thought finished a tad flat. 
 
Carmen was well cast and she looked the part, but at times she was hard to hear when singing in the lower register (and we were in the middle of row D).  But this tends to be the case, with the leads struggling to sing well in both upper and lower registers. Highlight was the company singing as a chorus - they sounded wonderful. 

 

.. forgot to mention they had a live horse on the stage, which the toreador rode in on. It is kind of distracting and you couldn‘t help but smile seeing it on stage and waiting for something “bad" to happen.   Would have been a hoot if it joined in with the chorus and let out a few bars of  â€œToréador, en garde ! Toréador!"  

#86

Ghosts (MTC) as I sit.
more to come

 

continued:

 

It was just ok. I imagine it's quite a powerful play. The story of dark family secrets told on a dark and stormy night should be quite gripping. But it failed to deliver the darkness that it promised. The bit of humour they added worked against the mood of the story.  The lead female (the mother) was good but the rest of the cast did not gel very well and were a bit too much like caricatures.  Shame as I left and expecting more.

 

next up - Aust ballet, Chroma, in a couple of weeks


#87

We went to see the Victorian Opera production of La Traviata last week (yep, third time for La Trav in the last twelve months!)

 

The set was amazing.  There were a series of different canvases with pictures on them covering the stage.  They were able to pull back the top canvas to expose the next one underneath. As the curtain went up, the back wall (which had been lying flat on top of the stage) slowly rose up and ended up on about a 60 degree angle, covered with mirrors, so that it reflected the pictures on the stage, and thus also the singers.

 

The choreography made full use of this, and a number of the songs ended up nearly looking Busby Berkeley-ish, but because the costumes were so lavish and colours so bold, it totally worked. 

 

Jessica Pratt played Violetta, and was superb.

 

The only issue we had was with the acoustics - at times, when they turned towards the back of the stage, it was a little hard to hear.  But otherwise, of the three productions, this was my fave.

 

 

La Traviata, should be seen as many times as possible, and for me, to many times is just not enough.  :)


#88

Had a musical few days last week.

On Saturday we went up to Mount Macedon to hear a duo called ArParla, who are Davide Monti and Maria Christina Cleary. Monti plays violin and Maria Cleary plays harp. They play music mostly from the 17th and 18th century, and I have their CDs in the car and play them a lot. They play instruments from the period which sound quite different from the modern versions; usually I don’t like the early instruments, but in a intimate setting they were great. They played at Duneira, which is one on the big old houses at Mt Macedon that’s now a sort of community arts centre. I would guess there were the best part of 100 people in the big old drawing room, and the concert was great. The music is to a large extent improvised on basic themes, and it’s very passionate and romantic. It’s surprising what a full sound can be generated from just two instruments. Davide Monti doesn’t speak a lot of English, but Maria Cleary does and she explained how they had structured each piece. There was a lot of combining of different airs and mixing of written improvisations (yes I know it’s a contradiction in terms, but that’s what they call it) and fully improvised variations.

Duneira is run by a woman called Jackie Ogeil, who also organises the Woodend Winter Arts Festival. We were induced to go to a few things there a few years ago and I really enjoyed it, somewhat to my surprise. It’s on next weekend and we’re going to four things on the Sunday and Monday, staying overnight. Jackie Ogeil is obviously a huge fan of Davide Monti, because he’s been the star at every festival so far, and he’ll be there again this year.

Sunday we went to the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra at the Recital Centre. Not great, unfortunately. We’ve been going to their concerts for the last few years and they seem to have lost their sparkle. The leader of the orchestra is Bill Hennessy, who plays beautifully but with the most extravagant body movements – it takes a while to get used to them. This concert was given by eight members of the orchestra and was modern music. A new and completely forgettable piece by someone called Bill Chambers, a Shostakovich but not one that was enjoyable to listen to, and a long Octet by a composer called Enescu whom I had never heard of: there were some lovely bits in it, but few and far between.

On Tuesday we were given tickets to the Australian String quartet at the Recital Centre again. An extract from a Schubert piece, then something I forget, and then a version of Mozart’s Requiem arranged for string quartet. I couldn’t help asking myself, Why bother? What’s wring with the full version. I really didn’t enjoy the concert at all. The first violinist is called Kristian Winther, and he would have to be the most irritating performer I’ve seen for a long time. Every movement is exaggerated, as are Bill Hennessy’s; but whereas Hennessy’s movements are spontaneous, the impression Winther gives is that it’s all to emphasise what a thoughtful and passionate player he is. I couldn’t bear to look at him by the end of the evening.

So one winner out of three. A bit disappointing, really.


#89

last night I took the parentals to see another Met simulcast, this time of "Cosi fan tutte".  Was terrific! At times I've struggled with the Met casting choices but this was done beautifully.  The two sisters were stunning, the two guys were very believable suitors (and then tricksters!), and Danielle de Niese was amazing as Despina. Set also worked really well.

 

The only downside was that the guy sitting next to me fell asleep and snored his way through most of the first act!   I coughed a few times and "accidentally" bumped him, but he kept going back to sleep. What is the etiquette in these situations?!

 

The program for the 2014-15 Live in HD season looks interesting:

 

Verdi‘s Macbeth

Mozart‘s Le Nozze di Figaro

Bizet‘s Carmen

Adams‘s The Death of Klinghoffer

Wagner‘s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (six hours! ouch!)

Lehar‘s The Merry Widow (Renee Fleming in this one)

Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Tchaikovsky‘s Iolanta / Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle (Piotr Beczala.... mmmmmm mmmmmm!!)

Rossini‘s La Donna del Lago

Mascagni‘s Cavalleria Rusticana / Leoncavallo's Pagliacci

 

Don't think I'll be seeing all of them, but there are a few that will be in the diary before long! 


#90

One of my all time favourite classical pieces

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAtx578yaZ8


#91

gorgeous :)


#92

last night I took the parentals to see another Met simulcast, this time of "Cosi fan tutte". Was terrific! At times I've struggled with the Met casting choices but this was done beautifully. The two sisters were stunning, the two guys were very believable suitors (and then tricksters!), and Danielle de Niese was amazing as Despina. Set also worked really well.

The only downside was that the guy sitting next to me fell asleep and snored his way through most of the first act! I coughed a few times and "accidentally" bumped him, but he kept going back to sleep. What is the etiquette in these situations?!

I once played Guglielmo (spl?) very briefly. Well, I was playing a mental patient playing Guglielmo.
Cosi the play really doesn't do this opera justice!

#93

The last couple of weeks it's been the Australian Ballet. Two weeks ago it was Chroma. A mixed-bill of four different ballets/pieces. It was ok but not great. The last two pieces were set to Mozart and I enjoyed them the most:  the music lifted them. Of the last two, I enjoyed Petite Mort  the most, with the costumes and the physicality of the dancers the highlight. 

 

Last night it was Imperial Suite. A double bill. The first one was ok to good, but couldn't really get into it. Nothing really grabbed me about it.

 

The second performance, Suite en Blanc was excellent. Superb look with an all black set and the dancers in either white or black and white. It's quite a spectacular look (and yes, I know, red and black would have looked even better...).  Suite en Blanc is basically dancers dancing for the sake of dance. No story - just the dancers doing their thing. Very pretty to look at.


#94

The last couple of weeks it's been the Australian Ballet. Two weeks ago it was Chroma. A mixed-bill of four different ballets/pieces. It was ok but not great. The last two pieces were set to Mozart and I enjoyed them the most:  the music lifted them. Of the last two, I enjoyed Petite Mort  the most, with the costumes and the physicality of the dancers the highlight. 
 
Last night it was Imperial Suite. A double bill. The first one was ok to good, but couldn't really get into it. Nothing really grabbed me about it.
 
The second performance, Suite en Blanc was excellent. Superb look with an all black set and the dancers in either white or black and white. It's quite a spectacular look (and yes, I know, red and black would have looked even better...).  Suite en Blanc is basically dancers dancing for the sake of dance. No story - just the dancers doing their thing. Very pretty to look at.


Madame and I were at Imperial Suite last night, and Chroma on the 7th. I thought much the same as you of Chroma: it wasn't as bad as I had feared it might be, but I can't say I positively enjoyed it.
On the other hand I loved Imperial Suite. Both ballets. Neither of them had a story, but they were just so stunning to look at and the music was so lovely that they were great. I think of the two the Suite en blanc just shaded the first one. The set pieces when the curtain went up on both ballets were absolute knockouts.
We ate at Taxi Kitchen before the show last night and it was ■■■■■■ good. We'll be back next week before the MSO.

#95

if anyone's interested in seeing Ben Folds with the MSO:

 

http://www.mso.com.au/whats-on/2014/ben-folds?utm_source=mail2&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BenFoldsPresale

 

promo code is BRICK 


#96

Henry V, Bell Shakespeare in 10 min.

more to come


#97

Henry V, Bell Shakespeare in 10 min.
more to come

Have you seen the Olivier film?  I hope that what you see is half as good.


#98

Henry V, Bell Shakespeare in 10 min.
more to come


half time at the Fairfax* theatre and it's fantastic.
*Independent Theatre Always

#99


Henry V, Bell Shakespeare in 10 min.
more to come

Have you seen the Olivier film? I hope that what you see is half as good.

nup - but will have to check it out

#100

Been playing Civ 5 as Brazil. Anyone who plays civ will know it has some cracking music. This one I love http://youtu.be/cmE1J6xt4gY