All posts by Lynne Lancaster

A passionate theatre person Lynne is originally from Sydney and holds a B.Ed (Art) - a postgraduate Diploma in Information Management (Librarianship) and an MA in Theatre. While living in London ( 2002 -2007 ) Lynne completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells linked in with Chichester University. Lynne has worked for both Ticketek and Ticketmaster here in Australia and was involved with the original production of THE BOY FROM OZ An Ausdance member Lynne is passionate about dance and has studied ballet and Flamenco. Before moving to London she photographed the Sydney Dance Company and Australian Ballet among other companies and has exhibited internationally. Lynne is a SAMAG member and a volunteer at the Art Gallery of NSW. Currently Lynne writes for arthub, danceinforma and sydneyartsguide.

CORIOLANUS: ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

Photos by Helen Maybanks
© RSC

This updated production (it is set now, or perhaps in a possible near future) as directed by Andrew Jackson emphasizes the politics and bloody battles. It is beautifully spoken and a play of contrasts: this is a production where patricians wear dinner jackets, the plebeians wear hoodies and the tribunes are as sleek as TV presenters. Political speeches are contrasted with whirling violent battle scenes .
Jackson’s version of CORIOLANUS opens with a forklift truck shifting bags of corn away from the ordinary denizens of Rome. It is staged with some thrilling lighting effects and some bloody battles and some blistering , tense wordy political scenes in the Forum.

Stark grey metallic grille shutters rise and fall throughout the whole play as scene dividers. They are coolly neutral and suggest a life completely different to that of Coriolanus’. To indicate Rome and the forum there is a statue of a rearing horse, Volumnia’s palace is graced by a refined statue of Venus. The public marketplace is indicated by steel seating and podiums that rise from the floor. Interior scenes have curtains to soften the lines.

To summarize the complicated plot : Caius Martius forces open the gates of the city and joins the leader of the Roman army, Cominius, to defeat Tullus Aufidius, commander of the Volscian army. In recognition of his great deeds, Caius Martius is renamed “Coriolanus” . Yet the common people turn against him for his arrogant attitude, and he ends up seeking refuge in exile with his old foe Tullus Aufidius, who was previously defeated, but not killed.Together they plan to attack Rome, but at the last minute Volumnia makes Coriolanus repent his treachery, and a peace treaty is speedily worked out between Rome and the Volscians. Tullus Aufidius kills Coriolanus for his duplicity.

Sope Dirisu as Coriolanus is distinctly ‘other’ from the outset.He is portrayed as a valiant ,worthy warrior General of the army leading to many victories , but proud and arrogant , unsympathetic as well as being a real Mummy’s Boy .He regards himself as above the common people , who he despises and is awkward when running for office ( uncomfortably wearing the cloak of humility and white cap) as consul or indeed with any dealings with ordinary men and women.

Volumnia , Coriolanus’ mother is played very strongly by Haydn Gwynne . Tough and manipulative , fiercely intelligent she is elegant , proud and aristocratic, and advises her son carefully as she cannot rule in her own right .The famous pleading for Rome scene is intense and gripping, tightly performed.

Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia , tall cool and patrician , overly dominated and intimidated by Volumnia , was elegantly played by Hannah Morrish.

Menenius, genial, complacent and urbanely avuncular, is terrifically played by Paul Jesson , seemingly unaware that there is festering revolt beneath the surface mask of everyday life in Rome but revealing himself to be very brave in a crisis and a sharp negotiator.
Aufudius leader of the Volscians is brilliantly portrayed by James Corrigan . His scheming Aufidius, shows that it is possible to combine the art of a master swordsman and gracious formal diplomacy. When Coriolanus appears at his house in Antium he is stunned and disbelieving then thrilled . Is he in fact double crossing Coriolanus ?There Is also much hinting at a possible ‘bromance’ developing between Aufidius and Coriolanus and the murder of Coriolanus is quite shocking .

Cominius , who we first meet as commander of the Roman army is excellently portrayed by Charles Aitken.The two tribunes Brutus and Sicinius here portrayed by women Jackie Morrison and Martina Laird are strongly presented. The first half in particular seethes with tension and rage in the forum scenes.

A cold ,sharp brutal and violent production excitingly staged with a terrific cast .

Running time – allow 3 & ½ hours including interval. Includes short behind the scenes ‘making of ‘ documentaries and interviews during interval.

Screenings of the Royal Shakespeare’s Coriolanus are at selected cinemas 18-19 November 2017 and at Riverside Parramatta 25-26 November 2017

https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/coriolanus-3/

Live at Lunch – Ravel and Faure

Live at Lunch
RAVEL STRING QUARTET, RAVEL & FAURÉ DEUX PAVANNES
THE CONCOURSE NOVEMBER 2017

To round off the 2017 series of Live at Lunch concerts we were treated to a most elegant and inspiring concert, with a majorly French feel , featuring artistic director Jane Rutter the renowned flautist and the tremendous Acacia Quartet led by Lisa Stewart. Founded in 2010, Acacia Quartet has quickly won great respect for their versatile and inventive programs which often couple established repertoire with the unorthodox. In 2013 Acacia was nominated for both an ARIA Award and an APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award.

The Acacia members were in orchestral black while Rutter was dramatic in a red and black outfit.

First up we heard an enchanting version of the lush, lyrical and seductive Pavane by Faure ( arr George Pikler) with Rutter on her favourite golden flute . A pavane is a Renaissance dance that’s generally described as a formal processional walk accompanied by a stately melody. The performance was full of elegant floating grace .
The main section of the concert was devoted to Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major in four movements as performed by the Acacia Quartet.

Ravel dedicated his work to Faure and it leans towards neo-Classicism . It was written in 1903 when he was 28. The quartet played magnificently , intently and with a great sense of being a unified whole .The first movement was passionate and questioning , volcanically ebbing and flowing. Rippling sections were contrasted with sharp spiky ones and it had a soft shimmering finish (note the use of pizzicato too.)

The second movement dashed off to a boisterous exuberant start and included dizzying scurrying violins. A passionate lamenting segment was contrasted with a stinging one. The third movement was fluid and intense and the final movement was fast and emphatic, full of dynamic intensity and was bubbling and flowing in parts. The finale is challenging because of its constantly shifting tonal changes and the Quartet handled this brilliantly.

Pessard’s Andalouse and Bolero followed taking us to Spain (the Andalouse , elegant and courtly with dominating swirling , bubbling flute ) and then the vibrant Bolero a bit more French ( no , NOT Ravel’s) with its darting shimmering flute and bubbling strings.
Before the final piece the Mayor of Willoughby Gail Giles Gidney was introduced and Rutter announced the most exciting season of seven concerts for 2018 .

The concert concluded with the heartfelt, delicate and flowing Pavane pour Une Infante Defunte by Ravel (1899). It is a meditation on grief and loss and a way of life that has disappeared. As we left for lunch we could buy CDs and brochures for the 2018 season were handed out – the box office was extremely busy!

Live at Lunch RAVEL STRING QUARTET, RAVEL & FAURÉ DEUX PAVANNES was at the Concourse for one performance only 15 November 2017 .  For more information visit:  http://theconcourse.com.au/live-lunch-2017-2/

 

SHERLOCK HOLMES THE AUSTRALIAN CASEBOOK-EDITED BY CHRIS SEQUEIRA

A most enjoyable collection of Australian Sherlockian stories as edited and collected by Christopher Sequiera who is renowned internationally for his Holmes-related writings.

Sequiera’s published work includes poetry, prose, and comic-book scripts, including Pulse of Darkness, Rattlebone: The Pulp-Faced Detective and The Borderlander.
It is a selection from both established and emerging writers (better known names include Meg Keneally, Kerry Greenwood and Lucy Sussex).

Other writers include Kaaron Warren, , L.J.M. Owen, T.S.P. Sweeney, J. Scherpenhuizen, Will Schaefer, Robert Veld, Doug Elliott, Philip Cornell, Raymond Gates, Jason Franks, Narrelle M. Harris and Steve Cameron).

The writers imagine the famous detective duo in Australia in 1890, and visiting various locales in all the States and Territories from the outback desert, bush and city . It is not presented in chronological order per se. Continue reading SHERLOCK HOLMES THE AUSTRALIAN CASEBOOK-EDITED BY CHRIS SEQUEIRA

THE YOUNG KING: SLINGSBY AT SOH

THE YOUNG KING – a tremendous production by Slingsby at the Sydney Opera House

This is a magical, inspired production that had the young children enthralled (and adults too) .  It is an interactive immersive production devised by the wonderful Slingsby company based in Adelaide.

Sensitively adapted by playwright Nicki Bloom (Tender, The Sun and Other Stars, Little Bird), the production is based on Oscar Wilde’s classic story , first published in 1891 , and retains some of Wilde’s magnetic, hypnotic, lush language. Memorable , tantalizing ,lyrical descriptions of snaking perfumes of jasmine, and of pearls shaped like the full moon and brighter than the morning star are provided .

As we enter there are harassed but welcoming busy courtiers , mysterious chambers , curious installations to examine and secret compartments , the only sound the relentless ticking of a clock , on the journey to the Young King’s coronation. There’s instructions involving a secret, directions as to how to greet the king, your card checked, a slight interlude while waiting in ‘the first chamber’ to enter and then we get to make a cardboard crown and take our seat .

Are you an Industrious Denizen of the South ? A Rough Fisher folk of the North? Come from the gruff Forest Folk of the East ? Or a Gritty Prospector of the West ? We are welcomed and the various gifts from the people arriving from the four directions presented and displayed before being carefully taken for safekeeping, (much fun with the last one where ‘pass the parcel ‘ and messages are included in the many layers of wrapping) .

It is the story of an art-loving princess who rebels against her traditionalist father the Old King; and of her son, raised in the forest by goatherds who is revealed to be the heir to the kingdom. Unaware of his birthright, fate eventually catches up with the young man , removing him from his idyllic forest to the palace to assume his royal duties.

As a quest ensues for treasures to create his robes, crown and sceptre, the boy faces a series of meditations and internal struggles as revealed by three dreams . Privilege and treasures are laid at his feet – but at what cost to others ? The three dreams – of the looms, of the diving for pearls , of the battle between Death and Avarice – are vividly brought to life. The Young King’s eventual rejection of the oppressive structures of feudalism rocks the Kingdom to its core.

Wendy Todd’s wonderfully seemingly simple but fabulously intricate set — a wooden fireplace of panelled walls — has various incredibly detailed secret compartments that slide in/out or open , containing fascinating objects, and an element of surprise.

The specially commissioned, wonderfully atmospheric score, at times rollicking , at times piercing beautiful and lyrical , is by Quincy Grant who accompanies the action live on several instruments, including piano and clarinet . The delicate ,extremely effective , atmospheric lighting by Geoff Cobham (fashioning everything from gleam of gold to the soft glow of jewels ) is beautifully incorporated.

Tim Overton and Jacqy Phillips narrate the story and act the cast of thousands and are also splendid at shadow play, torches , and puppetry .( think sort of a blend of Theatre of Image and 1927 perhaps ) .

They’re terrific together — Overton as the young fresh faced king with boyish charm : he is wide eyed with wonder and curiosity , awed by the beautiful objects and his robe for the coronation , but saddened to discover the hardships suffered to obtain them . As Death he is far more sinister with thrilling use of torches and shadows . Phillips in theatrical black is grumpy , cantankerous and scary as the Old King and as Avarice in the battle between Avarice and Death.

The transformation scene at the end is poignant and lyrical , Wilde’s moral tale still extremely relevant today.

THE YOUNG KING runs at the Sydney Opera House 11-12 November 2017.  For more information visit:

https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/past-events/Kids-and-Families/2017/the-young-king.html

EBB AND FLOW : A NEW EXHIBITION BY KATHERINE WOOD @  TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES 

Featured artwork. ‘Wishing Upon Dreams’ by Katherine Wood.

The latest thrilling exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries features the glorious work of Katherine Wood, in a series of beach scenes highlighting her magnificent use of line, texture and composition.  The works are delicately yet strongly layered and textured.

Katherine Wood is originally from South Africa but she and her family now live on the Sunshine Coast.

Wood’s work can best be described as ‘abstract imaginings’ blending the divide between traditional landscape and contemporary abstraction.

Wood loves the ocean – in her works its deceptively calm presence and the sense of space at the beach is also revealed as a place to hope and dream for the future or, alternatively, to reflect on the past. Continue reading EBB AND FLOW : A NEW EXHIBITION BY KATHERINE WOOD @  TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES 

NT LIVE ‘SALOME’: A CLASSIC TALE GETS A RADICAL REWORKING

This is a radical reworking of the Biblical story of Salome as directed by Yaël Farber which features some very strong performances and some fantastic visual theatrical effects.

Farber’s aim is to retell the story of Salome but NOT the story of Salomé as a femme fatale imagined by the historian Flavius Josephus and later interpreters like as Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Richard Strauss. Salome becomes a revolutionary, downtrodden woman who is a voice for the oppressed, the silent, the persecuted, the refugee.

So Farber divides the character in two. One, simply called Nameless, (a wonderful strong performance by Olwen Fouere) is an older, ghostly one might say, embodiment of voiceless women down the ages who mostly acts as narrator, ragged and barefoot.

The younger Salomé (Isabella Nefar) lives in Roman-occupied Judea, is the trapped victim of her voracious stepfather, Herod, and becomes the instrument of major change. If she demands the death of the prophet Iokanaan (John the Baptist), it is so that his martyrdom will stir revolt against the oppressive Roman occupation.

Salome is attacked by crowds , tortured in prison and, JUST baptised, required to dance for the Roman leaders of the occupation

We see how Salome is infatuated with the mysterious outlawed fanatical prophet Iokanaan who invites her to bathe, naked, in water, a respite from the harsh sand that pours down at other points in the play as played by wild eyed, bearded Arabic speaking Ramzi Choukair, who mostly wears only a loincloth. Continue reading NT LIVE ‘SALOME’: A CLASSIC TALE GETS A RADICAL REWORKING

DAME BERYL GREY : FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE

Celebrating Dame Beryl’s 90th birthday , this fascinating book was recently released by Oberon Books. It blends the story of twentieth century English ballet told from the point of view of one of its leaders and person memoir. Dame Beryl uses her extensive diaries as a base and also acknowledges the assistance of archivist Jane Pritchard .

Dame Beryl’s life is defined by her love of dance. Both as a ballerina and an Artistic Director she helped make British ballet the world renowned force it is today. Knowing and working with virtually everyone in the dance world, she reveals fascinating insights into the people, characters, and institutions that made up world dance in the 20th century.

Dame Beryl records vividly her relationship with Dame Ninette de Valois, (Madam’s mood changes and temper), and what it was like to work with Wilfred Stiff, John Gilpin and others.

We learn how she managed to navigate the tricky change from ballerina to administrator and leader of a major ballet company. Continue reading DAME BERYL GREY : FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA : A TRIUMPH INDEED @ THE CONCOURSE

This was a jaw dropping, absolutely breath taking concert by the Willoughby Symphony. The program, under the umbrella title of TRIUMPH, consisted of two works, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with a most astonishing and impressive performance by special guest artist Kristian Chong and after interval Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

The Orchestra was in marvellous form with a rich, extremely balanced, golden tone as energetically, enthusiastically and precisely led by Dr Nicholas Milton. There was also another special reason to celebrate as it is John Cran, the renowned bassoonist’s 90th birthday this week.

First we heard a dazzling, captivating, fiery and tumultuous performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 ( readers might remember it from the movie Shine) with spellbinding soloist Kristian Chong who gave a stunning performance aristocratically sculpted. It is an iconic, mammoth work often regarded as the pinnacle of Romantic pianism. Chong and the orchestra treated it with due reverence.

Rachmaninov’s work consists of three large movements. The opening melody has relatively little orchestral accompaniment. (It is perhaps reminiscent of some chants of the Russian Orthodox Church.) There are also hints throughout the work of the composer’s Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini and perhaps Stravinsky influences.

The well-known opening melody was played by Chong with a languid legato, conveying outward confidence blended with a dark undertone of anticipation. In the first movement Chong’s playing of the cadenza was wild and hair-raising while the second movement was more rhapsodic and melancholic .Chong’s playing in the lyrical or melodic sections was enchanting and luminous contrasting with his fiery passionate volcanic eruptions at other times.

Milton was highly attentive to Chong’s playing and the delicate shaping around it and in the gradual builds toward climaxes he revealed himself as a master of phrasing, pacing and layering sounds. In the second movement there were sharp spiky sections, an intriguing use of pizzicato, haunting woodwind and at various points throughout the work there were swirling, turbulent segments. Sparks flew. There was tumultuous prolonged applause and screams of ‘Bravo’ for Chong.

After interval we heard a passionate, turbulent rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony ( 1877/1878) ‘a haunting journey of tragic reality, passing dreams, visions of happiness, from the deepest trenches of human despair to the glorious triumph of the human spirit.

The work is permeated with unprecedented indications of the composer’s personal emotions, the intensity of which escalate gradually through each movement.It reflects his turbulent personal life at the time and is dedicated to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck .It opened with emphatic brass ( quite Swan Lake -ish) – the ‘fate’ leitmotif. followed by anxious strings and swooping woodwind.

The second movement opened with a poignant heart twisting oboe solo with the strings quietly murmuring underneath. Sometimes the orchestra in this movement was slow and stately like a flowing river, at other points it was anxious and pulsating , sometimes dance like .

Crash! The third movement featured scurrying strings, who then later sounded quite melancholy and then were strident, the horns, and the entire orchestra going full throttle tempestuously. There were hints of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture too and an interesting use of surging pizzicato.

The final movement, incorporating a famous Russian folk song, was fast, joyous and surged towards the agitated, breathless conclusion.

There was thunderous applause and numerous curtain calls. A TRIUMPH indeed.

Running time 2 hours including interval

Willoughby Symphony in Triumph played the Concourse on the 28th  and 29th October 2017

 

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA :  BITTERSWEET OBSESSIONS

BITTERSWEET OBSESSIONS, marking the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth. as presented by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, is structured around three works by two of the most iconic of baroque composers and includes Bach’s famous comic coffee cantata.

LAMENT
Monteverdi | Lamento della Ninfa.
A beautiful, moving story of loss and mourning, the nymph, angrily and with broken heart, sings the story of her traitorous lover.
TRAGEDY
Monteverdi | Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.
A story of love, tragedy and mistaken identity.
COMEDY 
J.S. BACH | Coffee Cantata.

A rollicking satire about the coffee-drinking antics of this lusciously-jolly, caffeine-crazed woman.

Soprano Natasha Wilson ties these three worlds together in a dramatic, staged performance with the Brandenburg. Through the concert we discover the heartbreak, passion and comic revelry within a repressive world.

Joining Natasha on stage are tenors Karim Sulayman from the USA and Australian Spencer Darby, as well as Danish bass Jakob Bloch Jespersen.

Paul Dyer has reunited the Australian creative team with whom he collaborated on the Brandenburg’s acclaimed and first-ever staging of Handel’s Messiah in February 2017, NIDA graduates director Constantine Costi, set designer Charlotte Mungomery and costume designer Genevieve Graham.

The creative team is completed by the leading Australian lighting designer, John Rayment, who in 2018 will be lighting the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies on the Gold Coast, as well as Opera Australia’s new production of Aida.

It is most impressively ‘partially staged ‘ and musically and vocally is superb. The performance is in three parts or ‘scenes’ and follows a woman’s journey through the sweet and bitter of life, through pleasure and pain, and opens with Monteverdi’s Nymph’s Lament, a tale of spurned love from his eight book of madrigals.

The concert is set in a cornfield with observing shepherds who act as a sort of Greek chorus.  Natasha Wilson plays the nymph in white drifting around rather Ophelia – like and lamenting her traitorous lost love in ravishing arias.

The highlight of the first half and one of the major highlights of the performance was the striking, dramatic staging of Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (The Battle of Tancredi and Clorinda) first performed in Venice in 1624 and based on a story of the First Crusade by Torquato Tasso which explores the fused themes of love and war through the story of the tragically star-crossed lovers.

The front cloth is lifted to reveal large metal staircase scaffolding which Jakob Bloch Jespersen and Wilson clamber up and down. For most of the performance Wilson and Jespersen are up on the top layer of the scaffolding and blindfolded. The dominant colour is red and a red banner is unfurled at one point. Karim Sulayman as the narrator below was passionate and intense describing the various events of the battle, the anger, exhaustion and eventual despair and parting.

This work is also notable for its inclusion of  Aikido– a modern Japanese martial art as the intricate, tightly choreographed battle is excitingly performed by Melanie Lindenthal and Andrew Sunter. ( http://aikidoinsydney.com/)The work features one of the earliest known uses of pizzicato in Baroque music and also pioneered the use of tremolo and the ‘agitated style ‘ to convey tension.

Wilson as Clorinda is superb her dying arias piercingly, soaringly exquisite. Jakob Bloch Jespersen ( from Denmark) as the noble warrior Tancredi was magnificent , commanding and vibrant in the battle , horror struck and grief stricken at the end .

The Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 4 BWV 1049 (first movement only) was given a sprightly, elegant and filigreed performance. The Orchestra had a warm luscious tone.The Baroque flutes /recorders ( Melissa Farrow and Mikaela Oberg) bubbled and darted in a delightful, enchanting performance that left us wanting more.The other interludes included in both halves of the program were also delightful.

“Don’t get between a girl and her coffee “ – the bulk of the second half consisted of J.S Bach’s Coffee Cantata, BWV 211 which was given a sparkling performance. A delicious satire, with bewitching music, this is classified as a cantata ( a vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment intended for concert performance) yet it is rather like a mini opera with three characters. Bach himself was a caffeine addict.

The set was reworked during interval to become a coffee shop and there were huge bags of coffee beans scattered around. There was also the use of mobile phones, Liesshen takes quite few selfies. Karim Sulayman here acts as the overworked barista/narrator.

Jakob Bloch Jespersen (Mr Schlendrian, Lieschen’s harassed father) is here dressed in casually expensive jeans t shirt and jacket and is growing weary of constantly forking out money for all the coffee that his daughter drinks. Lieschen is portrayed by Natasha Wilson as spoilt and self centred. She wears a red dress, fishnet stockings ankle boots and a large striped faux fur coat. The love of her life is COFFEE to which she is extremely addicted to. She must have it, drink it, be gifted it.

To her, coffee is more delicious than a thousand kisses. More pleasing than wine. Wilson’s arias to coffee are sultry and sensational. But her father declares she must give up coffee and marry. Leischen eventually agrees, thinking that her husband to be will pay for all her coffee. It ends with a wonderful tightly choreographed trio for the barista, Lieschen and her father drinking , stirring and raising their cups – to the joys of COFFEE.

Another cappuccino please ..

Running time just under 2 hours including interval

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s BITTERSWEET OBSESSION is playing the City Recital Hall until the 1st November and Melbourne until 5 November 2017.

For more about Australian Brandenburg Orchestra : Bittersweet Obsessions, visit https://www.brandenburg.com.au/

LIVE AT LUNCH : LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES @ THE CONCOURSE

The packed audience was swooning with delight at the latest Live at Lunch concert at the Concourse entitled LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES.

The concert featured Artistic Director Jane Rutter on flute, Vincent Colagiuri on piano and opera superstar Teddy Tahu Rhodes who performed a delicious selection of classic love songs and lullabies from Broadway including works by Elgar, Rogers & Hammerstein, Schumann, Fauré, Cole Porter, Lerner & Loewe and more!

Colagiuri and Tahu Rhodes both looked debonair in magnificently cut suits whilst Rutter was elegant in white and silver.

The program opened with the bright, seductive Non Piu Andrai from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Continue reading LIVE AT LUNCH : LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES @ THE CONCOURSE

NT LIVE : YERMA

This latest offering as part of the NT Live series, filmed at the Young Vic, is a very strong and powerful production, bleak and emotionally shattering.

Simon Stone, the Australian director, has taken Federico García Lorca’s 1934 tragedy and morphed it from 1930’s rural Spain to contemporary London, turning its story of the agonies of childlessness into a challenging, extremely contemporary play.

In the original, Lorca’s heroine is a farmer’s wife driven crazy by her failure to conceive, in a repressive society where child¬bearing is regarded as her main raison d’etre.

Here in this version (with mobile phones and computers, and lots of strong language) Stone’s protagonist (simply called Her, as played by Billie Piper) is a successful journalist who has always refused to be defined by the ticking clock of her reproductive system. However, on the day she and her partner, John (Brendan Cowell) move into their new home, she reveals her wish to have a baby. We then follow them through five harrowing years of barrenness, Her’s baby wish becoming a catastrophic obsession.

The play takes place in a glass cube with reflective mirrors. Mostly the stage floor is white, but at some points it has grass included. Minimalist various props (chairs, drinks tables, trees etc) are carried on/off by the cast and crew.

Lizzie Clachan’s design has the effect of making her life a goldfish bowl and the production strongly hints that Her’s blog has made her private life fair game for the more troll-like members of the online universe.

There is a strange rather surreal scene towards the conclusion, where Her, now high on drugs at a festival and drenched by light misty rain, paws at the soil as if trying to invoke some sort of Pagan goddess.

Billie Piper (yes Rose Tyler from Doctor Who) eponymous’ character is Her, an affluent journalist who habitually writes about her obsession with starting a family in a blog which is simultaneously articulate, self centred , and embarrassingly hurtful to those she loves.

She and John, talk over each other, get drunk, bicker, goad each other, and enjoy their increasingly privileged life together as sophisticated left-leaning ‘smug marrieds’ in London – until She decides she wants a baby. Adoption, however is not an option.

Billie Piper as Her is luminous and amazing in a searing, towering, powerhouse performance that leaves you shattered at the end. She performs with a disturbing, passionate apparently spontaneous truth as we watch her spiral into darkness.

Excellent Australian actor Brendan Cowell is on a knife edge balancing between the understanding and sensitive and the selfish in John’s participation and agreement with Her wish to have a child until looming financial ruin and her worrying mental health force him to declare an end to the IVF treatments.

We follow John’s journey from a cosmopolitan guy scared of commitment to emotionally pummelled and stressed one. He desperately attempts to meet Her needs, to try and save Her, but this becomes impossible.

The scenes with her ex that unexpectedly returns (Victor, as wonderfully played by John Macmillan) are tender, wistfully heartbreaking imaginings of what might have been, oppressively disturbing to consider given the current situation.

Stone has his cast interrupting each other, with very quick speeches at times, or not completing sentences and often speaking quietly, sometimes even murmuring in hushed tones which sometimes meant that the dialogue was at times almost inaudible.

This was contrasted with the snap of blackouts, the use of Brechtian like surtitles to indicate the time frame, and the audience being deafened by the score during scene changes (women’s voices blasting out choral chants for example). Strobe lighting is also used .

There are fine performances throughout by the very strong ensemble. Stone accentuates the multi layers of Her’s sense of being an unnecessary victim. Her rather detached, abrasive mother (Maureen Beattie) doesn’t pressure her and her and her post¬natally depressed sister (Charlotte Randle) is a torment to her because of the irony that producing babies has apparently been no problem for these seemingly unmaternal women.

This is a confronting play and Stone directs it dynamically with a great sense of urgency. We are asked to question the stereotypical conventional ideas of what being a woman is and whether being a mother is the be all and end all of everything. YERMA (which, by the way, means barren in Spanish) is both inexorable and scrupulous in its roughly 90 minutes ranging from witty and vibrant social comment to cataclysmic extremes.

Running time allow 2 hours (there is a short film and interview beforehand and the ads) the actual performance is 90 minutes no interval.

YERMA screens as part of the NT Live series in selected cinemas from October 14 2017

 

FROCKS, TALES AND TEA : A LOOK INSIDE THE WORLD OF COSTUME GREAT JENNIFER IRWIN

 

The latest talk presented by Useful Box for sewists and textile fans was held at the exclusive elegant Boronia Tea Rooms at Mosman. Jennifer Irwin was the fascinating guest speaker who has us all enthralled.

Irwin is the recipient of the 2017 Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance. She is perhaps best known for her work designing for Bangarra Dance Company, Opera Australia and Sydney Dance Company.

Her career spans 36 years designing for drama, opera, dance & ballet as well as the largest spectacular events ever staged in Australia -the opening and closing of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the official ceremony commemorating the FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA 2001.

Irwin was nominated for Best Costume Design 2016 AACTA Awards for her work on SPEAR the feature film with Bangarra .Irwin also designed the costumes for Dirty Dancing, the musical, still playing to packed audiences worldwide after 16 years. Continue reading FROCKS, TALES AND TEA : A LOOK INSIDE THE WORLD OF COSTUME GREAT JENNIFER IRWIN

SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘NO END OF BLAME’ @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

All art is dangerous and to be an artist can cost you your sanity and your life. Is art meant to serve society, or is it a vehicle to serve the arrogance of the artist? Or, can it be either or both?!

This intense, explosive production by Sport For Jove,  luminously directed by Damien Ryan, is disturbing and powerful yet also at times lyrical and poetic.

In some ways the plays feels like a cross between a play by Tom Stoppard and Vaclav Havel , sharp and witty , wordy with piercing use of language.

First published in 1981 , in thirteen scenes over two acts , NO END OF BLAME roams over six decades of the 20th Century , from 1918 to the mid 1970’s , across various locations in Europe, and the play pits a passionate, provocative pair of artists, one a painter, Igor, the other a cartoonist, Bela ,against the forces of censorship and insidious state control that corrupt and stifle the human right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Continue reading SPORT FOR JOVE PRESENTS ‘NO END OF BLAME’ @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE

WILLOUGHBY THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘CHICAGO’ @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD

This is a glitzy, bright bold and colourful production slickly staged by the Willoughby Theatre Company (WTC).

The show is a bleak, cynical, world weary look at life murder and corruption in Chicago of the 1920’s and includes audience favourites like All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle.

The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal”.

Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by crime reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins.

Each number is based on a traditional vaudeville act or performer, making explicit the show’s comparison between “justice”, “show-business”, and contemporary society.

The iconic show has won six Tonys and is one of the longest running shows both on Broadway and in London.

There have been two major productions in Sydney, the landmark Sydney Theatre Company production with Geraldine Turner and Nancey Hayes in 1981, the production in 1999 at the Capitol with  Caroline O’Connor and Chelsea Gibb.

What is interesting is the slight changes – the ‘standard’ Fosse choreography is not used, although there are allusions to it,  and the WTC seek to out Barnum Barnum and razzle -dazzle us with HUGE production numbers.

There is no fan dance with chorus girls for Billy Flynn’s All care About Is Love– yet the girls appear in other sections of the show, and the sharp, spiky Cell Block Tango has another team of ladies up top on the scaffolding. And why were there three extra Billys and Roxies for We Both Reached For the Gun?! 

Rather than have various cast members introduce the assorted numbers in Brechtian style,in this production we have a dapper MC nattily played by Luke Davis.

Andrew Castle lovingly directs with great timing and pacing from the fine ensemble who perform with panache. The orchestra under the baton of Alex Ash was sensational , bringing the infectious score vibrantly to life.

The 1920’s costumes were incredibly detailed and textured – oh ! the beading and lace for some of them!

Janina Hamerlok’s choreography was snazzy and oh so showbizzy, also including tap and the Charleston.

Dangerous, angry Velma Kelly , a deadly viper who is dethroned in prison by her rival ,was given an impressive performance by Kristina McNamara. 

Her big introductory number – All That Jazz – boisterously set the scene .We see how she sets out to look after number one but is also  scared and fragile. She shimmies, she dances up a dazzling storm to try and get Roxie on her side( I Simply Cannot Do It Alone) .

Roxie Hart, superficially sweet and pretty is coldly calculating, as played by fiery, petite Erin Carlton who portrays her as a spoilt and self absorbed wannabe who tries trading up in boyfriends and pinches Velma’s plans for her trial . Her baby is also a scam.

Roxie transforms her prison cell into a command centre for her commando raids on Chicago’s court system , with help from Flynn. We do also see her vulnerability underneath. The Nowadays duet was glamorous and eye catching,

Sleek, suave, cynical, corrupt hot shot lawyer Billy Flynn was marvellously played by Gavin Brightwell who croons his way through All He Cares About Is Love – oh yeah? The money , rather.

Matron Mama Morton was given a dazzling performance by Courtney Powell who cynically reveals her corruption. She sings up a storm and her When You’re Goo to Mama brings the house down

Quiet, shy Amos, Roxie’s husband, who is rather simple and naive , (Mr Cellophan ), was terrifically played by Scott Dias in a very sympathetic performance.

Vibrant naïve Mary Sunshine (There’s A Little Bit of Good in Everyone), who hides a deep secret,  was given a splendid performance by Jared Pallesen .

CHICAGO is about life as a battlefield and the weapons we use in our attempts to survive the wars. It is witty and intelligent its famous songs about betrayal, selfishness and press manipulation, could be equally at home either on the Broadway or Australian stage or in any of the recent Presidential or Prime Ministerial campaigns, giving us plenty to think about.

Razzle dazzle them ….

Running time – just over 2 & ½ hours.

Willoughby Theatre Company’s CHICAGO is playing the  Concourse  at Chatswood until the 22nd October.

Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fredd Ebb
Based on the play Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Script adaptation by David Thompson

 

COMMEDIE FRANCAISE PRESENTS ‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC

We were privileged to see the Comedie Francaise in a revival of the much loved French classic by Edmund Rostand CYRANO DE BERGERAC. (yes in French, with English subtitles).

Rostand’s play tells of the soldier-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, who is a brave and resolute man, full of passion and wit, who is accomplished both with words and swords, but is afraid of rejection by the woman he loves.

Cyrano is in love with the beautiful intellectual Roxanne but dares not to woo her because of his over size nose. However he helps Christian – who is handsome but not majorly intellectual – to woo Roxanne with passionate letters. Only on Cyrano’s deathbed does Roxanne discover that she has been the love of his life. Continue reading COMMEDIE FRANCAISE PRESENTS ‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Traffic Jam Galleries : TJG Team Selection

Something for everyone with the current most exciting Traffic Jam Galleries exhibition which has just opened – a show curated from works selected by TJG team members Bianca, Jess, Rebecca and Somerset.

Running from the 5th – 26th of October, the exhibition features new works from artists including Andrew Grassi Kelaher, Claire Kirkup, Danielle McManus, Rebecca Pierce and Nigel Sense. I will concentrate mainly on the new works.

Andrew Grassi Kelaher’s works are rather surrealist, very striking, extremely controlled manicured landscapes with clouds and precisely placed trees, sheep, rocks and winding rolling roads.

Will Maguire ‘s spiky and Hugh McLachlan’s reflective, almost melting wonderful sculptures are included as are Carol Foster and Elizabeth Green’s marvellous paintings.

J Valenzula Didi is represented by three abstract, rigidly precisely placed paintings in a triptych work entitled Urban Symphony. It felt like there  were Geoffrey Smart references involved. The use of shadow and geometric line was wonderfully employed, and there was a hint of 3 dimensions in some of the two dimensional paintings.

Ember Fairbairn’s One More Flood was full of lines, dots and misty texture.

Rebecca Peirce’s explosive, colourful, thickly painted flower paintings leaped off the wall. A large, sensitive and passionate, possibly wistful  ‘Somerset Designated Driver’ portrait‘ was new as well as the bright, colourful Low Lying Cloud Over The Glass Mountains and a couple of works from her Simple Life series revealed her extensive range of styles and subjects.

Danielle McManus is represented by her latest adorable but enigmatic work Follow the White Rabbit– a young person in a white rabbit suit in a huge field of red poppies.

Nigel Sense’s ouevre is represented by some of his striking bold flower paintings , perhaps with a Margaret Preston influence?– there is a very strong use of line and colour and outline.

Mia Oatley is represented by two swirling seascapes, and a sleek intense portrait looming diagonally across the canvas ( Forest Woman) .

Both Jenny Green’s exciting sculptures and Elizabeth Green’ s seemingly delicate yet intense works are included.

Dean Reilly’s The Professional Polymath is a striking dreamlike Surrealist portrait of a suite wearing a head of flowers.

Edgar Schilter and Julie Hutchings both have a single work featured in this group show as does Katherine Wood.

The delicate, embroidered Nature Studies of Meredith Woolnough captivate and entrance. combining science and art.

The current TJG Team Selection exhibition runs at Traffic Jam Galleries until the 26th October 2017

 

Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

This was an absolutely ravishing, exquisite concert and a feast for the senses.

Fourteen years after his Australian debut with the ACO, one of Richard Tognetti’s great musical friends is back with his special 14K solid gold flute. Guest soloist Emmanuel Pahud currently divides his time between his Principal Flute position at the Berlin Philharmonic and touring the world as a soloist.

Through the concert there was a great rapport between  Tognetti, Pahud and the Orchestra.

We first heard CPE Bach’s Sonata for Flute in A minor in three movements. The first movement was slow and languid, the second intricate, bright and bubbling with the flute darting and fluttering. In the third movement the flute was even more birdlike in parts; teasing , scampering and swooping. Pahud’s playing was dazzling and effortless with creamy, expressive, beguiling legato. Continue reading Australian Chamber Orchestra in Concert with guest artist Emmanuel Pahud

RAFAEL BONACHELA’S ‘2 ONE ANOTHER’ RETURNS TO THE ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

Hypnotic and mesmerising, Sydney Dance Company performers in ‘2 One Another’.

Featured image- Janessa Duffy in Sydney Dance Company’s ‘2 One Another’.

This is a brief return season of the multi award winning 2 ONE ANOTHER, choreographed by Rafael Bonachela and performed by Sydney Dance Company, first seen in 2012. It has since toured both nationally and internationally. The work has been very slightly tweaked and changed since its 2012 premiere.

2 ONE ANOTHER is a complex analysis of human interaction, examining the myriad actions and reactions, relationships and intimate and public gestures, connections and disconnections that make up the daily life of a human being. The wonderful dancers are superb both in the precisely controlled ensemble work and the flowing quartets, trios and pas de deux that flow from this.

There are at times very complicated almost geometric or architectural patterns and blocks of movement. Tiny everyday movements are taken and developed.

Bonachela’s choreography, with his preference for the symmetrical and linear, is fluid, very athletic and demanding with long, stretched lines and some striking, unusual lifts. It includes edgy walks, explosive, feline leaps and rolling floorwork. Continue reading RAFAEL BONACHELA’S ‘2 ONE ANOTHER’ RETURNS TO THE ROSLYN PACKER THEATRE

GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA SYDNEY : THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE

 

On a rocky beach in Cornwall … ahoy – there be Pirates!

Originally premiered 1879 it is one of the ‘Big Three ‘ of the Gilbert & Sullivan works – the others being HMS Pinafore and The Mikado.

Readers will probably be familiar with the Opera Australia version (Anthony Warlow as the Pirate King) or the Essgee version starring Jon English as the Pirate King. There also has been the all male version directed by Sasha Regan that toured here in 2012 from the UK.

Overall, this was a strong, traditional performance.  Musically and vocally, under the excellent direction of Rod Mounjed, this production was splendid. The Orchestra was in fine form and gave a beautifully multi layered finely nuanced performance. Mounjed conducted precisely and energetically.

Under Victoria Watson’s direction the pacing and timing was great. The choreography was tight and stylised, albeit that it, at times, came across a little stiff.

The set design by Bradley Hawkins was very effective. One half of the stage was the pirate ship, the other a  flight of stairs, a plinth, and a gargoyle like sculpture for the tomb in Act 2. There was a trapdoor for the Pirate King and for Ruth’s first appearance for ‘When You Had Left Our Pirate Fold ( the ‘Paradox ‘ trio Costumes were mid to late Victorian with bustles etc, for the ladies.

Our leading lady Mabel was excitingly sung by Sarah Arnold. I am not sure why she sat in a throne like chair to one side aloofly reading before her big first entrance?

Our darkly Byronic hero Frederic, ‘a slave to duty’, was terrifically performed by Daniel Verschuer, who was in fine voice.

As the dashing, charismatic Pirate King Chris Lewis had much fun swaggering and strutting around. His Oh Better Far To Live And Die  was joyous and exhilarating.

Ruth the Piratical Maid of All Work was given a strong performance by Zoe Arthur.

As vibrant and ebullient Major General Stanley, Mitch Bryson was magnificent. His breathless, tongue twisting, patter song I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General, where he was gloriously resplendent in his imposing uniform brought the house down. In Act2 he is troubled and lamenting when ‘he thought he heard a noise. ‘ His bevy of daughters and chaperoning relations gave a terrific performance. Tall, hulking ,brooding Samuel was finely played by Joshua Knight.

Our Sergeant of Police was terrifically played by Toby Page, who was in fine, gravelly voice, lamenting, “A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One’ with his chorus of policemen.

Tarantara , tarantara…Gilbert and Sullivan’s PIRATES OF PENZANCE is playing the Shore Auditorium, Shore School, Blue Street, North Sydney until 8th October.

Running time 2 hours 20 including one interval .

PRODUCTION TEAM
Stage Director& Choreographer – Victoria Watson
Musical Director – Rod Mounjed
Choreographer – Sarah Pearce

CAST
Mabel Sarah Arnold
Frederic Daniel Verschuer
Ruth Zoe Arthur
Pirate King Chris Lewis
Samuel Joshua Knight
Edith Laura Griffin
Kate Angelique Tot
Isobel Holly Champion
Major-General Mitch Bryson
Sergeant of Police Toby Page
Chaperones & Daughters Fiona Ashton, Joann Balasuriya,
Kyran David, Marie Deverill, Alice
Dunne, Georgina Hughes, Jane Makin,
Ellie Singer, Judy Singer, Anna Skocz,
Sara Wakeling, Sonia White
Pirates & Policemen Nick Adams, Peter Chappell, Scott
Crichton, Michael Darmody, Terence
Hogan, Terry Matthews, Mary
O’Bryne, Dawn Pugh, Gary Selby,
Rory Struthers, John Wollaston

http://www.gsosydney.com.au

 

PRELUDE IN TEA : SONUS PIANO QUARTET @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

As part of the very popular Prelude In Tea series at the Independent Theatre. this was an intense passionate concert strikingly played by the Sonus Piano Quartet. This quartet takes its name from sonus, the Latin word derived from the Greek “tonos” that means “noise, sound”.

Formed in late 2011 by Brenda Jones, the Sonus Piano Quartet celebrates the art of sound production in their performances.  The Quintet features four master musicians : Australian Chamber Orchestra violinist, Aiko Goto, violinist Jacqui Cronin, Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist, Timothy Nankervis and pianist, Brenda Jones.

The concert began with  Saint-Saëns Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op. 41 with its elegant swoops on the violin. Jones’ playing on the piano was assertive, and Nankervis’ cello paying was intense.

The second movement heard Jones on piano off to a spiky, emphatic start followed later by some flourishes.  There were some tango like dance rhythms,  and a vibrant discussion between the quartet led to a fiery, turbulent conclusion.

The third movement, a scherzo in rondo form, had an edgy start, and featured fast, scurrying playing on the viola and violin. The music pulsated – the piano had a fast, anxious mini solo, whilst the other instruments  commented. The music delicately evaporated to a pianissimo at the end. Continue reading PRELUDE IN TEA : SONUS PIANO QUARTET @ THE INDEPENDENT THEATRE

Traffic Jam Galleries : Black and White/ Works on Paper

This is a most exciting mixed group exhibition featuring works by CAROLE FOSTER . JENNY GREEN . ELIZABETH GREEN . MIRIAM INNES JO JOSEPHSEN . DANIELLE McMANUS . KATHRYN McGOVERN REBECCA PIERCE . EDGAR SCHILTER . and WILL MAGUIRE.

It is a mix of works previously seen and new works by some of the favourite artists from the gallery’s stable..I will be concentrating on the new works rather than ones I have already reviewed. The set theme for the exhibition is Black and White and/or works on paper. There is a great variation in size , some taking up almost an entire wall ( eg Miriam Innes with her New York Meandering , full of incredible detail and thrusting diagonal lines of the staircases). Continue reading Traffic Jam Galleries : Black and White/ Works on Paper

NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

 

Divided into two parts and in total about 8 and  hours long, Tony Kushner’s multi award winning play ANGELS IN AMERCIA : A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES, performed in two parts is set in America in the mid-1980s.

We see how In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grappled with some huge social issues.

Part One is entitled Millenium Approaches and Part Two is entitled Perestroika. Both parts are given gripping, emotionally powerful performance by the splendid cast.

The issues it raises are still  relevant today, twenty five years after the work was first performed. It is a sweeping epic about gay rights and gay responsibilities, loyalty, religion, politics, guilt, and the failure to live up to the expectations of oneself and others. Continue reading NT LIVE PRESENTS TONY KUSHNER’S REMARKABLE AND EPIC ‘ANGELS IN AMERICA’

WILLOUGHBY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR : NATURE @ THE CONCOURSE

This was a stirring, thrilling concert of enormous range and vibrancy.

Under the dynamic, precise baton of guest conductor Matthew Wood the latest Willoughby Symphony  concert had the umbrella title NATURE.

First was Smetana’s symphonic tone-poem The Moldau, evoking the flow of the Moldau River from its source in the mountains of the Bohemian Forest, through the Czech countryside, to the city of Prague. The piece is one of six works that form his cycle My Country .

The Moldua  is divided into eight sections and includes a village wedding, hunting horns and nymphs dancing in the moonlight. It began with bubbling flute and was mostly tumbling and flowing, the orchestra surging with shimmering violins and pulsating woodwind and a torrential tempestuous, crashing finale

Next came the presentation and announcement of the 2017 Young Composers award, presented by Willoughby Mayor Cr. Gail Giles-Gidney to Ella Macens for her work Flight. The APRA encouragement award went to Andrew Howes.

Ella Macens

With Macens in the audience the Orchestra performed a richly textured and multilayered rendition of her work. The piece began strongly  with pulsating percussion and striking woodwind. Most of the work was a conversation between the violins and the rest of the orchestra.

We then heard Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca by 2017 Composer-in-Residence, Daniel Rojas with the Willoughby Symphony Choir and mezzo-soprano, Jenny Duck-Chong.

Jenny Duck-Chong

This marks the final collaboration of Rojas with the Orchestra as composer in residence for this year.

The three powerful short pieces ranged from celebratory bells to silent mourning. Based on stories by Lorca the piece was conceived as a trilogy that celebrates the tragedy and triumph of love, innocence and unbridled passions.

The piece was full of dark, fiery Flamenco passion with staccato palmas and stamping rhythms, castanets and tambourine. Duck-Chong was compelling and charismatic, the Choir in fine form with a HUGE sound.

After interval we heard one of Australia’s most distinguished horn virtuosos, Hector McDonald, in a special guest appearance, performing Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11.

Strauss’ piece had a crashing strident opening with lush lyrical strings in the first movement and superb playing by McDonald, dominating the orchestral discussion.

The second movement was softer and more thoughtful with tentative woodwind and the final, third movement had darting flute and dark tumbling dramatic strings while the horn was rather bright and skittish. McDonald’s  playing was refined and glorious.

We were then privileged to hear as an encore a most unusual combination horn and harp in Dolci Pianti (Sweet tears) by J. Strauss Jnr. The horn with its showy flourishes rather dominated the flowing, rippling harp, as played by Meriel Owen.

The Orchestra performed one more piece in the encore. This was Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78. full of varying moods, warm strings and delicious woodwind. At times it was strident bombastic and loud, with scurrying strings, or conversely softly creeping with cat like tread, at other times jaunty and dynamic, or rich, ominous and exotic. Under Wood’s baton the Orchestra was extremely well balanced and played with gusto in a thrilling performance.

Running time – roughly 2 hours 15 minutes including interval.

Willoughby Symphony Orchestra and Choir in NATURE played the Concourse Chatswood on the 16th and 17th September 2017.

Program :-
Smetana’s The Moldau
Ella Macens Flight
Daniel Rojas Cantos Españoles: Three Songs of Garcia Lorca
Richard Strauss ‘ Horn Concerto No.1 in E flat major op 11
Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations Op.78.

For more about the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra visit http://www.willoughby.nsw.gov.au/whats-on/willoughby-symphony/

MOSMAN MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS ‘URINETOWN’ @  ZENITH THEATRE, CHATSWOOD

 

Under the inspired direction of Kenney Ogilvie, the current production by Mosman Musical Society  is the darkly satirical URINETOWN.

The Zenith Theatre has been transformed into a darkly menacing city, where a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets in a world wracked by ecological disaster. The citizens are required to use public amenities, all managed by a single malevolent company, the Urine Good Company (UGC) that avariciously profits, led by Caldwell Cladwell, by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. It is supported by a corrupt government and police force.

Amongst the struggling people, who have run out of patience, money and hope, our hero Bobby Strong, one of our valiant star crossed lovers, decides that he’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! Does he survive?  Can he make the town great again?

Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill URINETOWN satirizes politics, capitalism, the legal system, bureaucracy, social irresponsibility, populism, and corporate mismanagement in a production very relevant to our current times  Continue reading MOSMAN MUSICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS ‘URINETOWN’ @  ZENITH THEATRE, CHATSWOOD

AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : HAYDN MOZART AND FRIENDS @ CITY RECITAL HALL

In this latest terrific concert by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO), the program for the evening consisted of four works, concentrating on the Classical period.

The concert began with a rarely heard Sinfonia by Mozart’s friend Christian Cannabich, who led  the renowned Mannheim court orchestra  which was to the 18th century what the Berlin Philharmonic is to today. Then there were two works by Mozart, and a Haydn cello concerto, superbly played by ABO principal Jamie Hey.

The Orchestra had as many composers as players in their ensemble and it set the standard for others to follow, increasing the orchestral range and nuance by their introduction of innovative bowing techniques and the use of rhythm and ascending climaxes which became known as the “Mannheim Rocket”.

The entire ABO was in fine, golden form as energetically led by the very enthusiastic Paul Dyer who was close to dancing whilst conducting on fortepiano.

The concert began with the rarely heard Sinfonia in E-Flat major by Cannabich that gave the concert a brisk, emphatic, sprightly start.

Then came Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1 with ABO soloist Jamie Hey on period cello playing with great articulateness and polish. Continue reading AUSTRALIAN BRANDENBURG ORCHESTRA : HAYDN MOZART AND FRIENDS @ CITY RECITAL HALL