Tag Archives: Prokofiev


The Victorian State Ballet has just completed a short season at the Concourse, Chatswood of their CINDERELLA. I am afraid I was rather disappointed in this production. While yes there was some excellent dancing and interesting theatrical effects,I was left unsatisfied.

Sorry readers, this is one for the Aunt Ednas and kiddiwinks .There are some elegant costumes and some badly designed ones (the large apron patch for Cinderella when she is in ‘ tatters’ at home was quite distracting.)

Music is credited as being by Prokofiev. Choreography was credited as being by Michelle Cassar de Sierra, lighting design by Martin de Sierra . Where appropriate (eg the Ball – in which by the way everyone is masked) there are formal , precise lines for the ensemble .The grand pas de dux for Cinderella and the Prince incorporates elements of the set piece in the traditional Sleeping Beauty. Continue reading VICTORIAN STATE BALLET : CINDERELLA : A DISAPPOINTMENT


BRAVURA indeed with an astonishing ,breathtaking performance by the Willoughby Symphony with their latest concert BRAVURA and guest star Tony Lee on piano . Dr Nicholas Milton conducted energetically and enthusiastically yet was extremely precise .The orchestra gave a crisp , polished performance that was inspired, fiery and passionate where required with a rich well – rounded tone.

First we heard Zoltan Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta , a set of Hungarian dances based on traditional Gypsy themes . Horns blare then the exuberant dances begin with their whirling , infectious melodies , with slithering sensuous clarinet ,shimmering , quivering strings and insistent woodwind leading to the fiery , explosive conclusion .

For this reviewer the major highlight was Franz Lizst’s Piano Concerto No 2 in A , S 125 in four movements with multi award-winning Australian Lee as soloist. It began at a moderate pace with flowing woodwind which were joined by rich strings. Lee on piano at first played delicately, like crystal water drops. It then became shimmering and cascading , changing to fiery and emphatic , insisting listen to me! .There was an almost martial atmosphere at this point , strings a strong undercurrent . Lee on piano suddenly leaps and bounds, with scurrying strings.

The piano returns to whirling and leaping with a sudden change back to shimmering crystal . Pulsating throbbing strings rumble while the piano floats into a lyrical, flowing solo ‘aria’ which then changes to an emphatic, spiky dialogue – almost confrontation – with the Orchestra before a return to calmer waters. But then Lee on piano suddenly darts and jumps leading to the crashing , tumultuous ending , leaving everyone gasping.

For an encore Lee treated us to a volcanic ,insistent solo performance of the last movement of Prokofiev’s 7th Sonata that took us to interval.

After interval came a strong, impassioned performance of Brahms’ Symphony No 4 in E Minor Op 98., the last of his four symphonies. It is very complex and an immaculate example of symphonic construction , finely nuanced and with great attention to phrasing and balance.

The piece  had a rich multilayered opening with a sweeping luxurious waltz like melody followed by vibrant woodwind with delicate pizzicato from the strings. The woodwind become emphatic and then there are flowing strings and woodwind sections leading to the stirring ending with crashing drums.

The second movement begins with the horns blaring the melody after which the strings limpidly , richly flow , interwoven with the woodwind. There is a measured, thoughtful passing around the various sections of the orchestra development of the melody which become brisk and animated but then slows back to a calmer mood with a throbbing undertone of strings.

The third movement opens with an explosive BANG – a tumultuous start .The orchestra is very strong and emphatic – it is a thunderous, galloping ,boisterous discussion between the various sections. And listen out for the triangle!

The final fourth movement had a powerful dramatic opening , and there was snaky woodwind and repetition of a circling melody featuring elegant strings and haunting insistent woodwind .the mood changed to steely , with scurrying strings and darting woodwind leading to the throbbing wall of sound for the conclusion.

Running time two hours including interval


Willoughby Symphony’s BRAVURA played  at The Concourse , Chatswood 21 and 22 September 2019




BenLens11All images by Ben Apfelbaum.

Sergei Prokofiev was undertaking a successful tour in the US when he was asked by the Chicago Symphony to compose an opera. In 1921 it was performed in the States and in 1926 in Russia. Because it had an unappealing script for the time, it was the antithesis of Puccini’s realism and contained no arias, and it was poorly received. However, this opera reflected the art movement of the time absorbing the fragmentation of Picasso and the surrealism of Dali.

Thank goodness it was revived in 1949 in the States by which time public taste had caught up with its avant garde satire and since then the opera has been regularly performed by a opera companies around the world.

The plot defies a short synopsis but in the Opera Australia production suffice it to say, it is a combination of nineteen twenties movie star allusions, the commedia dell’arte and Alice In Wonderland.

There is a cranky witch Fata Morgana played by Antoinette Halloran who looks like Gloria Swanson, and  a clown Truffaldino played by Kanen Breen, whose warm bass added extra comedy to his zany character. There are characters dressed as cards and harlequins like those encountered by Alice, a  princess with a rats head, and dancing cacti.

The multi hued set design by George Tsypin combined with the crisp direction of Francesca Zambello facilitates the speed and ever nonsensical absurdist passage of the piece to its happy ever after conclusion.

Zambello’s set and the costumes by Tanya Noginova are a riot of colour and the singers sometimes perform from impossibly awkward positions without any diminution of volume and quality.

The farce is overseen by a Lord Of The  Rings type eye or perhaps it is a reference to the eye in Luis Bunuel’s and Salvador Dali’s UN CHIEN ANDALOU.

Rosario La Spina as the hypochondriacal and obsessive Prince is unexpectedly  comedic (due to his casting in more solemn operas) and brings a warmth to his character with his lovely tenor voice.

Julie Lea Goodwin’s sweet soprano complements her character beautifully as the heroine Princess Ninetta.

I mentioned Kanen Breen’s extraordinary clown performance,  but really all the Company must be congratulated on the excellence of their acting abilities which ranged from an S and M dominatrix through to a humongous fat cook.

Like last years’ A Turk In Italy and this years’ Barber of Saville, both by Rossini, this superb production  is a comic triumph.

Running time is 2 hours 15 minutes including one twenty minute interval.

Prokofiev’s FOR LOVE OF ORANGE is playing the Joan Sutherland theatre, Sydney Opera House until July 9.