Wednesday, 26 August 2015
An enthralling book http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/awakenings-four-lives-in-art-by-eileen-chanin-and-steven-miller/ This latest wonderful book by Eileen Chanin and Steven Miller is fascinating, enthralling and inspirational. At times it makes one filled with envy at their extraordinary journeys, at other times deeply sympathetic at the poor treatment and lack of respect that they received. AWAKENINGS: FOUR LIVES IN ART principally examines the lives and careers of the four women from the post Federation era to the turbulence of World War 11. This is a small to medium sized book, lavishly illustrated with both black and white and colour photos, has a brief index and a well researched bibliography. My only quibble is with the rather rushed and abrupt Epilogue that wraps up the final stages of each of the subject’s lives. Having come to know so much about these four women I would have appreciated more detail. In the prime of their lives all four women chose not to call Australia home. Louise Dyer lived mostly in Paris, Dora Ohlfsen mainly in Rome, Clarice Zander in London and Mary Cecil Allen in New York. The work is divided into four chapters–The Artist (Ohlfsen) , The Patron ( Dyer) , The Publicist, ( Zander) and The Educator (Allen). The women were unrelated, apart from the fact that they were born in Australia, were each involved with the arts, and all four choose to live and work abroad. With the possible exception of Ohlfsen, who is sometimes referred to in stories of the history of Australian sculpture, these women have largely been forgotten about and considered relatively unimportant and peripheral figures on the arts scene. Dora Ohlfsen led an extraordinary and enigmatic life. The majority of her work has been lost or obscurely buried, a typical example of the fate of a woman artist. After studying music in Berlin, she suffered a nervous breakdown and eventually met her lifelong partner, the Russian aristocrat Elena von Kügelgen. With Elena, Dora experienced the ‘Silver Age’ of Russian culture, and she was exposed to theosophy, the work of the Symbolists, and most importantly, was introduced to sculpture, specifically the art of the medallion. They first moved to St Petersburg, where Ohlfsen took up sculpture, struggling against the ideas that sculpture was hard and dirty and not for women, and after six years the couple moved again and settled in Rome. Ohlfsen was very much a pacifist yet ironically spent much of her life working on art with war-related themes, including her best known Australian work, her Anzac medal, which we are informed was the first commemorative work of art paying homage to the ANZACS. In Italy she became caught up with the Mussolini cult- he posed for her on several occasions- and with his help she became the only expatriate sculptor in Italy to be commissioned to design a national war memorial. Ohlfsen returned to Australia in 1912 after a 20-year break, during which time the country had almost doubled in population, become a Federation, enfranchised women, and brought in the aged pension. As well, the cultural transformation that had taken place since she left was immense with the building of the Art Gallery of New South Wales underway, Universities in Tasmania , Queensland and Western Australia, and the founding of symphony orchestras and conservatoriums. Her return was for family reasons, but the timing was serendipitous. The Art Gallery of New South Wales was in the middle of commissioning the bronze friezes to adorn the blank recesses intended to illustrate the six epochs of art (eg Ancient Greek). Ohlfsen sent her portfolio to the trustees and was commissioned to complete a full-sized plaster model to be cast in bronze for the panel immediately above the door, and two roundels. She was hoping as well that her work would be included among the commissions for sculptures in the new federal capital, Canberra. Sadly, her entry for sculptural decorations for the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne was not chosen. In 1914 she returned to Rome to work on the commission, but with the outbreak of war, she endured increasing difficulty in obtaining reasonable quotes for the casting and began to find fault with the commission. For part of the War she worked as a volunteer nurse. In September 1919, with much annoyance and frustration at the Sydney trustees’ interference and financial constraints, Ohlfsen was gravely disappointed to learn that her commission was cancelled. Ohlfsen ‘s life was essentially a tragic one, where she received little recognition at home. Not one of her major projects saw the light of day, and other works which were sent to Australia were discarded. At the age of 71, in 1948, Dora Ohlfsen and her Russian Countess were found dead in a gas-filled studio in Rome. Not much of her work is extant, though there are some paper trails. If you venture to the Art Gallery of NSW you can see The Awakening of Australian Art (1907), a detail from which is on the cover of the book, and other bronze work, among which is Ceres (1910). Louise Dyer is perhaps most famous for forming the music record and publishing label identified with her name, Les Éditions de L’Oiseau-Lyre ,( Lyrebird) which has played a key role in establishing the foundations of the modern early music revival. Examples include the publishing of works by Couperin and the spectacular Montpellier Codex We discover the life of a woman passionately devoted to music, a woman who was born and married into money and used it to follow her passion. Her music label became the first to simultaneously release printed music and recordings. In 1905 Dyer enrolled at the Melbourne Conservatorium to study with Leipzig-trained Eduard Scharf, and then gained her licentiate in piano from London’s Trinity College. Dyer returned to Europe for several visits, most importantly to visit the Glasgow Athenaeum, where she delved into its library of early printed music and manuscripts of medieval liturgical works– an event which would have a great impact on her future career. In 1912 she married James Dyer, who shared her love of music, and, unable to have children, Louise pitched herself wholeheartedly into fundraising projects, especially for music, becoming the key promoter of the renewal of British classical music including works by Vaughan Williams, Holst and Delius, among others, building on French Impressionism and English folk music. She was also heavily involved in the Alliance Francaise and The British Musical Society among other organisations and at one point was Lady Mayoress of Melbourne. She also supported poets such as John Shaw Neilson. Clarice Zander seemed to begin with apparently every opportunity– a high-quality education and art courses at the new Eastern Suburbs Technical and Art School in Hawthorn, where she honed the skills to gain considerable success as a freelance illustrator. At about this time she met her husband Charles. They were only married for four months before he left for Europe. Charles returned from the war broken and damaged but determined to make his way on his own terms, and dragged Clarice to a soldier settlement block in Mildura. They built a modest house and began the hard, back breaking work of digging out the mallee roots to grow sultana crops. Charles turned to drink and went slowly mad, leaving Clarice with his power of attorney and a small child. She returned home to her mother’s house and became the main breadwinner for four generations of women. With post-war reconstruction underway, and modernism emerging, Clarice bobbed her hair and strode out into the world to make a life for herself and her daughter. She held several jobs at once, but most important were the five years she managed the New Gallery, in which most of Melbourne’s leading artists were shareholders. During this time she met Bill Dyson and in 1930, after Charles’ death, followed him to London, where she became manager of a Bond Street gallery, which was to become the Redfern Gallery, where her art world connections expanded, and to which she introduced Australian artists like Loudon Sainthill, Sidney Nolan and Donald Friend. Eventually she became the influential curator and publicist for the Royal Academy. She was also responsible for Australia’s first important exhibition of contemporary British art and accompanied it to Australia in 1933, where it garnered a major amount of press coverage. This book is a vibrant examination of these four women’s struggle for recognition during a time of great social turmoil between the wars. It also examines the unwillingness of Australia to accept Modernism. An enthralling read. AWAKENINGS: FOUR LIVES IN ART by Eileen Chanin and Steven Miller has been published this year by Wakefield Press. ISBN: 9781743053652. Recommended Price- $39.95. Review copy courtesy of Wakefield Press.
What an amazing life http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/sweet-boy-dear-wife-jane-dieulafoy-in-persia-1881-1886/ Heather Rossiter’s fascinating book chronicles the extraordinary life of Jane Dieulafoy and is based on her extensive diaries. Rossiter deftly interweaves and blends themes of passion, Persian history, politics, power, history and architectural and art history. This is a medium sized book, elegantly illustrated, with many black and white engravings of Jane’s photographs, as well as various photos of some of the famous sites visited as they were then and are now today. The publication has a well presented bibliography and index as well as a list of the photos included, a handy brief chronology of Ancient Persia and a glossary as well as a list of the main people mentioned, including various shahs, sheiks, and French officials. The work has not been written in a strict chronological order and jumps around at times almost in the style of a movie but nevertheless remains a pleasure to read. Nomad tribes and their chiefs, Princes, and Persians from both the highest and the lowest strata of society and assorted functionaries are found in the pages of this book. Particularly vibrant are the descriptions of the women which range from some vivid, confident tribal women to melancholic often uneducated creatures locked in anderuns (harems). Their virtual slavery greatly saddened Jane, who was an early feminist, believing passionately that women should be free to live independent, dignified lives. In some ways Jane can be seen as a distant cousin in spirit of the fictitious Amelia Peabody or even the real life Isabella Bird. Jane Dieulafoy was born Jeanne Henriette Magre to a rather wealthy family in Toulouse, France studying at the Couvent de l’Assomption d’Auteuil in Paris from 1862 to 1870. At the age of 19 she married Marcel Dieulafoy in May 1870. She was fiercely loyal to Marcel and considered herself an equal to him. In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War began. Marcel volunteered, and was assigned to the front. Jane accompanied him, wearing a soldier’s uniform and fighting by his side. The Dieulafoys first visited Persia to dig in 1881, and would return for two seasons after that. In 1881-82 Jane’s extraordinary journey began in Marseilles and took her to Athens, Istanbul, Poti, Erevan, Jolfā, Tabrīz, Qazvīn, Tehran, Isfahan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Sarvestān, Fīrūzābād, Susa via Būšehr, and Mesopotamia on horseback. She invented new field methods, monitored the excavation of trenches, and painstakingly photographed, mapped, labelled, and reconstructed everything that was discovered with particular attention to tiles and enamels. Blue-eyed Jane dressed as a boy to accompany her husband Marcel on digs in Persia, where women were veiled and enclosed, denied rights and treated as second class citizens and objects. She survived extreme illness, both hers and Marcels, and a miscarriage, as well as attacks by religious fanatics and wild tribesmen. Her incredible travels and adventures led to the unexpected discovery of enameled brick friezes in the 2500-year-old city of Susa. Displayed at the Louvre Museum, Paris, in 1886, the Lion and Archer friezes created a major archaeological sensation and still remain today among the Louvre’s greatest treasures. Jane was awarded the Legion D’honneur in 1886. Upon her return to Paris in 1886 she forsook women’s clothing completely and obtained a ‘’permission de travestissement” from the police, a legal requirement otherwise she would have been arrested, and wore contemporary men’s fashions. The politics surrounding the Dieulafoy dig abruptly changed in both Persia and France, and the couple were never allowed to return again. Jane wrote her first novel, Parysatis, set in ancient Susa. It later became an opera with music by Camille Saint-Saëns. She went on to write three novels set in the French Revolution. In 1904 Dieulafoy and several other women bonded together to found the Prix Femina as they were all denied the existing literary awards because of their gender. Jane and Marcel then turned their attention to Spain and Portugal, photographing and documenting old buildings and churches, and publishing several books. Marcel was assigned to build roads and railways around Rabat during World War 1. Jane accompanied him and directed excavation of the the 12th-century Yaʿqūb al-Manṣūr Mosque. Whilst in Morocco, her health began to decline. She unfortunately contracted amoebic dysentery and she was forced to return to France where she died in Marcel’s arms at Pompertuzat in 1916. What a full and amazing life! The book’s author, Heather Rossiter, is a scientist, writer and traveller who lives in Sydney. She is the author of Lady Spy, Gentleman Explorer: The life of Herbert Dyce Murphy, and Mawson’s Forgotten Men: The 1911–1913 diary of Charles Turnbull Harrisson, whilst her articles, book reviews and travel pieces have appeared in Australian and overseas newspapers and magazines. Details- Book Title- SWEET BOY DEAR WIFE: JANE DIEULAFOY IN PERSIA 1881-1886 Author: Heather Rossiter Category Biography/Autobiography/True Stories Publisher- Wakefield Press Format Paperback Size 234 x 160 mm ISBN 9781743053782 Extent 364 pages Price: AU$39.95 including GST Heather Rossiter’s book is available at leading bookstores as well as online at websites such as Amazon.
Book now! It is fabulous! http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/matilda-at-lyric-theatre-the-star/ One of Sydney’s major musicals for the year, MATILDA has impressively taken over the stage at the Lyric Theatre at the Star. This is a bold and colourful, in parts cartoon like and then at other times quite dark and poignant production. The large ensemble perform with enormous relish and gusto. It is a re-mounting of the multi-award winning Royal Shakespeare Company production currently playing in London and is based on the much loved Roald Dahl book with music by Tim Minchin. The school is presented as Dotheboys Hall like, with old fashioned desks and huge towering Victorian front gates that the cast climb and rattle. The set also has piles of books and alphabet blocks. There is also a wonderful, exuberant swing sequence for the schoolchildren opening Act 2 When I Grow Up – some of the cast seem to fly out over the audience. There are masses of special theatrical effects, strobe and Star Wars/James Bond like lighting and lots of scenery flying in and out, sometimes shifted by the cast. Puppetry is also featured. The ensemble, both children (there are four casts of children) and adults are magnificent and SO full of breathless energy. The choreography is an amalgamation of various dance styles including showbiz, rap, U-tube musical, Latin –American ballroom and possible hints of Balanchine – very tightly choreographed and performed with great pizzazz. Matilda is a very bright prodigy of a little girl, unloved and unwanted by her horrid parents, who loves books. We see how she survives school and develops unexpected powers to help others. Also running throughout the show is Matilda’s imaginary tale of The Acrobat and the Escapologist which she shares with Mrs Phelps and which turns out to have links to Matilda’s real life as well as revealing her longing for love. We see her uncaring horrible parents. Her mother, Mrs Wormwood is hard, bold and brash, with a Latino lover /dance teacher Rudolpho, played by Travis Khan. She is terrifically played by Marika Aubrey who brings the house down with the exuberant Loud (With shades of Tina Sparkle and ‘Strictly Ballroom’) Her father, Mr Wormwood, a sleazy second hand car dealer, is delightfully played by Daniel Frederiksen, who dresses in appallingly bad taste and whose hair is in the style of an escapee from the bar in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. He is self centred and continually refers to Matilda as a boy, if he condescends to think of her at all. Both parents delight in making Matilda’s life miserable and despise her reading. Her sloppy brother Michael was played by Daniel Raso. Don’t be out too long at interval or you will miss the Telly sequence underlining his superficiality. Perhaps rather plain and mousy, yet Meryl Streep like Miss Jennifer Honey,Matilda’s teacher, is tremendously played by Elise McCann. Warm and caring she is a terrific teacher yet dominated overruled and controlled by the appalling headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (who turns out to be her aunt). Miss Honey gathers her courage and turns defiantly on Miss Trunchbull with help from Matilda. Her song in the second half My House was superb and very touching. Miss Honey acts as a calm, concerned, balancing focus for the scary events in Matilda’s life. Georgia Taplin was extraordinary in the title role. What a talent! She sang, acted and danced up a storm; at times naughty and mischievous, and at others heartbreaking. She carries the show magnificently. The major ogre of the piece, the towering fearsome Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the school, English hammer throwing champion in 1969 , is played with wicked glee by James Millar in a khaki outfit with huge shoulder pads. She is played as part panto villain, part Miss Andrews from Mary Poppins, part over the top Richard 111/World War 11 villain. Petrifying! Her huge number in Act 2, The Smell of Rebellion brought the house down. Mention must also be made of the charming librarian Mrs Phelps who also encourages Matilda and listens to her stories, delightfully played by Cle Morgan . Gleefully anarchic and joyous, this is a marvellous show suitable for all ages. Running time 2 hours 40 mins including one interval MATILDA is currently playing the Lyric Theatre at the Star and is presently selling through until the 6th December.
A glorious musical feast http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/opera-australia-presents-mozarts-the-marriage-of-figaro-joan-sutherland-theatre/ Seldom has Sydney been treated to such a marvellous musical and visual feast. Thunderous applause, cheers and screams of bravo greeted the end of this sensational production of Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, directed by Sir David McVicar. This is the second in a trio of Mozart works directed by McVicar that the Opera has organised. Some of the opera is joyous and sunny, but it can change in an instant and become quite dark. The Opera is about the superficiality of society and how much importance is placed on outward appearance. The singing was stupendous and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra conducted by Guillame Tourniaire delivered a magnificent performance. Tourniaire’s conducting was inspired with great attention to detail and wonderful phrasing and timing allowing the music to glow. Particular mention of the harpsichord, crammed into the orchestra pit, which were mainly heard in the recitative. Jenny Tiramani’s designs were sensational with great attention to detail– assorted rooms at the Count and Countess’s palace, all designed opulently yet with clean lines. The countess’ bedroom was in salmon/pointe shoe pink with a huge dust catching canopied bed, the count’s room in blue and the dining room had wonderful windows leading out to the porch and gardens. David Finn’s magnificent lighting gave a bewitching Vermeer effect. The sumptuously detailed period costumes were glorious as if from a Vermeer, Rubens or Rembrandt painting. Dark, bearded Paolo Bordogna in fabulous voice gave a rich, energetic and impetuous performance as Figaro. His arias were splendid in a delightful dark baritone. He defiantly stood up to his boss, the Count, and forcefully turned the tables on him. Taryn Fiebig was splendid as Susanna, the Countess’ maid and Figaro’s fiancee. She was in wonderful voice, full of elegant refinement, and gave a fine assured performance, teasing Figaro, helping her mistress and joining in the teamwork to turn the tables on the Count and teach him a lesson. She becomes a Vermeer portrait when accompanying Cherubino in Voi Che Sapete on the lute. Her solo aria before the front curtain in Act 4 were a delicious, still moment of joyous reflection. As Count Almaviva Andrei Bondarenko with his flowing hair was superb. He could be quite menacing – his sending away of Cherubino is serious– and is shown as arrogant, charismatic and a serial womanizer, with a fiery temper. Nicole Car as the unhappy Countess was exquisitely beautiful. Should she forgive the Count?! Can –should – she try to save her marriage?! Her fluid, melancholic Dove Sono was lustrous and showstopping . As the mischievous, lovestruck page Cherubino, secretly, achingly in love with the Countess (his godmother), one of the great ‘trouser’ roles when an actress appears as a man, Anna Dowsley was superb. Her Voi Che Sapete was enchantingly, passionately performed. Cherubino is portrayed as a young, handsome, tall and gangly, innocent troublemaker (or should that be NOT so innocent?!). One wonders how his enforced marriage to Barbarina, delightfully played by Eva Kong, will fare?! Richard Anderson as Don Bartolo and Jacqueline Dark as Marcellina, who turn out to be Figaro’s parents, both severe in black, give fine performances too. Benjamin Rasheed as Don Basilio has a wonderful time as an elegant, over the top, mustachioed, self-centred, pompous, sneering villain, with a mere veneer of respectability. This was a glorious production. Running time 3 and a half hours including interval Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO runs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House in rep until the 29th August.
http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/faberge-a-life-of-its-own/ This is a fascinating, at times heartbreaking documentary about The House of Faberge, one of the most prestigious names in ultimate luxury. The film covers one hundred and fifty years of romance, tumultuous history, artistic development and international commercial expansion and development. Founder Carl Peter Fabergé attended to the demands of the tastes of the Russian Imperial family. FABERGE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN charts the journey of this inimitable Russian jeweller, celebrating his extraordinary talent and craftsmanship. His name and contributions remain a source of admiration and reverence in an opulent, now lost world. With unprecedented access to the most esteemed private collections, this documentary includes insights and interviews with world experts, scholars and collectors and interviews with the descendants of the Fabergé family. The famous jeweller’s family history is interwoven with the detailed history of some of the specific artefacts. An example is the 1891 egg that commemorates the then Tsarevitch Nicholas’ Asian travels which led to Asian design influences and very enthusiastic Asian collecting. Shot in locations across Russia, Europe and USA, including the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, there are spectacular streetscape scenes of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The cinematography is stunning. The artefacts such as the peacock and a contemporary emerald necklace are filmed in lavish, loving closeup so one can admire the detail. It is also fascinating to see black and white footage from prior to and during the Russian Revolution. The dysfunctional society is evident: the appalling poverty of the general bulk of the people is contrasted with footage of the glittering court. We see influences of modern art and design and how the Russian Revolution and Great Depression affected the House. The film begins and ends poignantly with the derelict Faberge dacha. From the encrusted unique, bejewelled Easter eggs of the Romanovs to the 1970s allure of ‘Brut by Faberge’ aftershave, and from the Russian revolution to contemporary glitzy high-power fashion shows in New York and London we see how the Faberge name has survived even through some relatively rocky times. We learn that at one point in its heyday Faberge’s Russian HQ had over three hundred staff and we see some of today’s top jewellers at work. We are shown, amongst other things, the process of enamelling. We see watches, trinket boxes, photo frames, cigar boxes, rings, cufflinks, fans, the delightful menagerie of animals and numerous other dazzling items. The extraordinary attention to detailed,exquisite craftsmanship and technique is mentioned throughout. The film’s soundscape includes snippets from Mussorgsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky–Korsakov, Chopin and other great Russian composers. Two historic new eggs are also shown in the film in an incredible conclusion. Completed in 2015, The Pearl Egg is the newest first ‘Imperial Class’ egg and was created to mark 100 years since the production of the last Imperial Egg for Tsar Nicolas II. Over 3,000 diamond and natural pearls adorn the magnificent object d’art, now held in a private collection. Serendipitously unearthed by a US scrap metal dealer a few years ago, the recently discovered Third Imperial egg and its extraordinary story are also discussed in the final part of the film . An enthralling, oh so opulent film full of lavish splendour and beauty. Running time : 90 minutes. FABERGE: A LIFE OF ITS OWN screens at selected cinemas as of August 15.
This was a glorious concert http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/willoughby-symphony-orchestra-presents-carmina-burana-at-the-concourse-chatswood/With House Full signs up at the front and the box office turning hundreds of people away hoping to book for this concert I would strongly suggest you book now for the rest of the season and next year’s wonderful programme by the Willoughby Symphony. This concert started with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra under the emphatic, enthusiastic direction of Dr Nicholas Milton performing a sizzling version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite. This is the first ballet that Diaghilev commissioned from Stravinsky, based on a Russian fairytale, with choreography by Fokine, featuring the legendary Tamara Karsavina in the title role. This ballet was followed by Petrushka and Rite of Spring. We heard the 1919 orchestral suite which was given a dazzling performance, with a large, rich, pulsating sound. The string section was huge and there was an Assyrian style designed beautiful harp. The piece began very softly with the strings and then one could hear the darting, alien bird in the shimmering music. Lush, lyrical floating music accompanied the Princess’ round dance, which was followed by a startling crash and a stomping, tumultuous Infernal Dance for King Kaschkei and his creatures .The Firebird’s Berceuse,with its seductive woodwind and strings is hypnotic and all leads to the thunderous, triumphant conclusion. After interval came an explosive, riveting performance of Orff’s CARMINA BURANA (composed 1935-6) , the Willoughby Symphony Choir and Chatswood Public School choir joining the Orchestra. One of the most popular yet simultaneously reviled choral works, the piece is based on a thirteenth century collection of songs and poems in Latin and German ( translation handily given in the programme) becoming a collection of singing and dancing choruses based on the Wheel of Fortune .The tumultuously powerful O Fortuna, Velat Luna opening the work (Nescafe coffee anyone?!) nearly lifted the roof off. Baritone soloist David Hidden, dressed in an elegant tuxedo, was in fine voice and his solos were magnificent including Estuans Interius. Bespectacled Kanen Breen, our tenor soloist, had enormous fun stealing the show as the swan (Olim lacus colueram). For his aria he entered at the back of the stalls and was dressed in a fancy black tuxedo with gold detail and trimming and a black feather boa. He lamented his way to the front of the stage with his rendition of No Swan/Stranger from Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. He brought the house down– a fabulous, electric ‘swan song’. Soprano soloist Joelene Griffith with her waist length glorious chestnut hair looked like a princess in beige and silver and sang divinely. Her solos were exquisite and floated with a pure tone– particularly in the Court of Love section with the Chatswood Public School children’s choir, dressed in their blue school uniforms, providing excellent accompaniment. Running time two hours including interval. An enthralling concert, fabulously played and sung. This fine concert took place at the Concourse Chatswood on the weekend of the 8th and 9th August.
A terrfic version http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/royal-shakespeare-on-screen-presents-the-merchant-of-venice/The latest production of Royal Shakespeare on Screen is THE MERCHANT OF VENICE in a gripping version of the narrative that is a little abridged and has been made contemporary. Magnificently directed by Polly Findlay it is very powerful, in certain sections joyous and funny, at other times extremely moving and somber. The play moves at a cracking pace , but still has room to ‘breathe’ and the famous set speeches are given time and space to make their impact. Even though the speech patterns are of today, the poetry still shines through. The play’s depiction of racism and intolerance comes across as clearly as ever. Johannes Schütz‘s designs deserve special mention. There is a giant looming proscenium arch above the thrust stage and a huge silver swinging pendulum. The dominant feel is for the clear, sparse, reflective golden panels– very appropriate in the context of the splendour of Portia’s Belmont palace. With multiple long mirrors, the design has the audience reflected on itself- asking us to ponder our own cultural and social values. A few simple, clean lined props at times (for example, chairs and tables for the courtroom scene in Act 2) are included. Depending on the action the cast sit on the side of the stage when not required on stage . For Shylock’s house the set also functions well, Jessica appearing bleakly at the top. (I liked the use of the fancy rhinestone glittering balaclavas for the elopement scene). The Cloudgate Dance like lyrical use of a mass of candles in the final scene came across as symbols of hope. The caskets of gold silver and lead on stage are each of a different shape and descend on rope pulleys . The music, including a small child choir, is integrated superbly. Our Portia, Patsy Ferran, is elfin, dark and at times strong In a tremendous performance. Already at least sort of half in love with Bassanio when the play starts she is all giggly, blushing and nervous in their first scene together but grows and develops into a strong, passionate woman who would do anything for the man she loves. In the courtroom scene ,severe in black, she turns her anger about discovering Antonio’ s until then generally discreet relationship with Bassanio onto Shylock. Antonio, the Merchant of the title, is given a very sympathetic, melancholic, finely detailed, lyrically passionate performance by Jamie Ballard. He opens the play in tears ( ‘In sooth I know not why I am so sad’). In this frank and revealing production it is obvious that he is gay and that he and Bassanio are lovers. Bassanio, however, is breaking off their relationship and going off to marry Portia who knows but unhappily accepts the situation. Reality hits badly- Antonio is shattered not so much by debts and storms as by his love for Bassanio, whom he risks all to help . The play ends sadly for Antonio, sinking alone upon a bench. Shylock is shown as charming, at least at first when we meet him, but underneath is a cold, implacable hidden interior determined on revenge. He ignores all please for mercy, determined to act enforce the bond. Makram J Khoury gives a tremendous, multi layered bravura performance. The antagonism between Antonio and Shylock is intense and of long standing. Khoury begins patient and stoic, describing the racist ill-treatment he has received, and ends shattered but calm having his life turned upside down . The very handsome Jacob Fortune-Lloyd is wonderful as the lovestruck Bassanio, upset at how he has let Antonio down. Jessica and Lorenzo, the other pair of young lovers, become almost sidelined as minor characters in this production, but nevertheless are given strong performances by Scarlett Brookes and James Corrigan. Nerissa, Portia’s confidante, is given a sprightly performance by Nadia Albina and Gratiano, is as a witty, charming gangster rapper by Ken Nwosu. The clown role, Launcelot Gobbo, is played, wearing clown face makeup, with great relish by Tim Samuels, who performs his first monologue to the man he sits down next in the front row of the audience. This production ends on a happy note and we are left to ponder the uncertainties of love, honour, friendship and morals. Running time- two and a half hours without interval. The film features a brief introductory segment beforehand and a brief ‘’interval’’ look at backstage behind the scenes – costumes, technical stage production etc The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE screens at cinemas on the weekend of the 22nd and the 23rd August.
http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/david-strattons-great-britain-retro-film-festival-the-tales-of-hoffmann-cremorne-orpheum/ As part of David Stratton’s Great British Film Festival currently screening at the Cremorne Orpheum we have a rare chance to see this classic 1951 film. Brought to us by the team who also made The Red Shoes, (also screening as part of the Festival), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, this is the fresh, lavish 4k restoration of the film released in the UK March this year and includes previously unseen footage. Michael Powell called this a ‘composed film’ in that everything in the film was governed by the music. It is sung in an English translation of the French libretto and faithful to the traditional adaptations of Offenbach’s last opera bar a few adjustments. Dancers were mostly used as actors on screen ,with the great opera stars as voice over. The film features Robert Rounseville (Hoffmann) , Moira Shearer (Stella/Olympia), Robert Helpmann (as Lindorf/Coppélius/Dapertutto/Dr Miracle) , Frederick Ashton, (Kleinsach/Cochenille) Léonide Massine ( Schlemil, Spalanzani/Franz )and Pamela Brown (in the ‘trouser ‘ role of Nicklaus), Ludmilla Tchérina(Giuletta) and Ann Ayars (Antonia). Only Rounseville and Ayars sang their own roles. The soundtrack recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the film was conducted by the legendary Sir Thomas Beecham. The principal singers apart from Rounseville and Ayars were Dorothy Bond ( Stella/Olympia), Margherita Grandi ( (Giuletta) , Monica Sinclair (Nicklaus) and BruceDargavel(Lindorf/Coppélius/Dapertutto/Dr Miracle). What is very exciting for dance fans is the chance to see several of the greats of the period together in one film . The film is notable for its spectacular, surrealistic designs by Hein Heckroth and for its special cinematic effects. One can pick the Dali influences and also touches of Loudon Sainthill. The film is very obviously of its time and perhaps dated a little now but still sumptuous and enthralling , and the costumes are ravishing. ( Heckroth was nominated for two Academy Awards for this film) . The photography is splendid, with very effective use of close up when required ( the amazing makeup the cast wears is visible in loving, intimate detail!).The ‘Dragonfly’ ballet is shot partly from above to obtain full visual impact and so we can see the various lilypads . In the prologue, Hoffmann (Rounseville) is in the audience at a performance by Stella ( Shearer ), a prima ballerina. (Here we see the dragonfly ballet. Are we meant to pick up a Pavlova influence ? The designs for the dragonflies were quite startling for the film’s period). Stella sends Hoffmann a note asking him to meet her after the performance, but the note is intercepted by his rival, Councillor Lindorf (Helpmann). Not having received her note, Hoffmann goes to Luther’s Tavern during the interval, where he tells the sad romantic tale of a clown, Kleinzach (Ashton) – inspired by mugs in the tavern- and three stories of his past loves— Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia, and becomes drunk. In the first story, set in Paris , we hear how Olympia is a life sized mechanical doll created by scientist Spalanzani and magic spectacle maker Coppelius. Hoffmann falls for Olympia, ignorant of her artificiality and is mocked when he finally discovers she is an automaton. Shearer has a quite difficult long extended solo here as Olympia. It is very romantic in part with her lying on the swinging bench a la Watteau or Sleeping Beauty. There are some allusions to the full length ballet Coppelia as well, Helpmann with enormous eyebrows giving a glimpse of one of his most famous roles. Shearer is terrific as Stella/Olympia and the manic destruction of Olympia is quite gruesome and nightmarish. In the second story, Hoffmann , now in Venice,falls for Giulietta, a courtesan, but she seduces him to steal his reflection ( ie his soul) for the magician Dapertutto. Sultry Ballets Russes great Ludmilla Tchérina is cooly elegant, enigmatic and seductive as Giuletta while Helpmann is chilling and scary as Dapertutto. This story features the famous ‘Barcarolle’, here with Giuletta and Dapertutto floating in a gondola. The dominant colour here is a dark red. In the third story, set on a Greek island, Antonia is a famous delicate soprano suffering from an incurable illness who must not sing, ( shades of Violetta and Mimi ) but the evil Dr Miracle ( Helpmann again, pale and Dracula like) makes her sing and she dies, breaking the hearts of Hoffmann and her father, Crespel ( a terrific performance by Mogans Wieth/ Owen Brannigan ) Ayars gives a tremendous performance as Antonia. Massine features here as the deaf servant , with incredible petit batterie and jumps. The colour theme here is blue and Antonia’s house and garden have huge Surrealist like statues, particularly for her mother. In the epilogue, we learn from Hoffmann that all three women are all aspects of his love, Stella, who then appears in the tavern and, seeing Hoffmann totally drunk, is led away by Councillor Lindorf.( A figure of death, perhaps?! Running time allow two and a half hours no interval includes brief documentary about the history of the film and a most enthusiastic introduction by Martin Scorsese. Sessions of THE TALES OF HOFFMANN are screenings at the current festival currently screening at the Cremorne Orpheum until the 18th August. There is a screening today, and then on 15th, 16th and 18th August. Share this:1Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)1Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/nt-live-everyman/ This riveting production will enthrall you and give you much to think about. EVERYMAN is Rufus Norris’s first production as artistic director at the National and is a contemporary adaption by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy of a medieval Mystery Play. At times the rather galumphing rhyming couplets are witty, at times clunky and in the main powerful and dynamic. The designs are quite sparse and functional, combined with excellent use of projections and special effects, storm crashes, lightning etc. The use of the revolve works well. The scene where Everyman’s friends have morphed into luxurious gold robots and he realizes ‘you can’t take it with you’ is great. He is left with nothing but his name and shame. Javier de Frutos’ distinctive at times angular, fluid and explosive choreography is beautifully integrated into the work. Updated to now, Death comes to Everyman on his 40th birthday and announces he has to provide an account to God of his life, We see Everyman appeal to his friends, his family, all of whom are unable to really help him. In the scene with his friends are we meant to see allusions to The Last Supper? The scene with his family– his very ill Mother (Sharon D Clarke), senile Father (Philip Martin Brown, and a very strong, caring but angry sister (Michelle Butterly) looking after them is intense and bitter, sad and revealing, and features sensational performances. Omnipotent God is portrayed as a cleaning woman (Kate Duchen ). God is questioning bleakly as to the current situation of humanity. At the beginning we are informed- “The angels weep to see the ruin of the Earth.” Duchene also brilliantly doubles as Good Deeds, giving a bravura performance as a dying bag lady . Everyman’s Conscience– alter ego /best friend /doppeldanger is given an ironic, biting searching performance by Coral Messam, in some ways similar to Lear’s Fool? Death, in a white mortuary attendant suit and a black beanie with flames on the rim (perhaps Satan) is given a splendid, witty, ironic performance by Dermot Crowley. There is a wonderful monologue where he glowingly remembers the Titanic musicians and the French Revolution. This production however belongs to Chiwetel Ejiofor as Everyman. Ejiofor is best known for his work in Twelve Years A Slave. He has a spectacular, slow-falling entrance from high up– a flashing, kaleidoscope of images conjuring bygone moments of his life. He shines in a towering, bravura performance. We follow his quest and see him change from a rather hedonistic, selfish guy who seemingly has everything to one who has lost everything and seeks answers. A recognisably contemporary man, he is here presented as an archetype of “me-culture”, of self-centered materialism. He’s obviously Catholic and suffers greatly– walking on broken glass and flagellating himself . It is like he is trapped in Purgatory and is waiting to give an his account of himself. The Beatitudes are quoted and the Seven Deadly sins enthusiastically experienced and represented, An orgy and cocaine snorting are featured just for starters. There is a stunning coup de theatre when Ian MacNeil’s design, Paul Anderson’s lighting and Paul Arditti’s sound blend to simulate the effect of a tsunami . As Everyman says though ‘why me? ‘and ‘God, why are you so harsh?’ ‘God, if you are everywhere, it is difficult to understand for us weak humans.’…… The production ends with God’s rather ironic last speech, encompassing her love for all of us. We are each Everyman and our turn may come next… Running time – an hour fifty minutes including a short introduction and a rehearsal documentary. This production is currently playing in London until the end of August. The NT Live screenings of EVERYMAN will screen at selected cinemas as of 8th August.
http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/mylinda-joyce-in-recital-pitt-street-uniting-church/ Rather rich, dark and heavy, the latest Resonance concert at Pitt St Uniting Church featured the great talents of dramatic soprano Mylinda Joyce accompanied by Chris Cartner on piano. The warm acoustics were splendid for this performance. Cartner, as usual, introduced each piece and opened with a breathless, blistering fast, darting performance on piano of Grieg’s ‘Puck’. Three short, passionate, turbulent songs by R. Strauss followed featuring the amazing voice of Mylinda Joyce who, with long dark hair and flashing dark eyes, wore a stunning turquoise evening/recital gown. Cartner then followed with a proud, emphatic rendition of I. Albenitz’s Asturias from his Suite Espagnol, featuring Moorish and Flamenco influences and cascading repeats. Lo son l’ultima ancilla from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur was given a dark, lushly romantic performance by Joyce. O del mio amato ben by S. Donaudy , with its fractured, ghost like, waltz like ripples for a lover seeking her lost love, was lyrically and wistfully performed. The concert changed tack with the confident, teasing , flirtatious Quando m’en vo- Musetta’s waltz from Puccini’s La Boheme- revealing another enchanting aspect to Joyce’s rich, secure, firm voice. Two extraordinarily impressive pieces by Wagner followed– first Cartner was solo on the piano performing the wonderful Elsa’s procession to the Cathedral music from Lohengrin- lyrical and stately, yet it also bubbled, cascaded and rippled in a bravura performance. Joyce then enthralled in an amazing performance of Seglinde’s sword song from Act 1 of Die Walkure , surging darkly and passionately with the tempestuous music. Then came a gripping, thrilling rendition of Rusalka’s Song to the Moon by Dvorak that was melancholic and filled with yearning. For a well deserved encore we heard an enchanting, dramatic, passionate, wistful version of the lovely, rather poignant O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini’s Gianni Scicchi. The concert ran for an hour without interval. MYLINDA JOYCE IN RECITAL played the Christ at Lavender Bay on the 17th July, the Pitt Street Uniting Church on the 24th July and the Hunter Baillie in Annandale on the 26th July. For details about upcoming Resonance concert events visit- http://www.resonance.net.au/
This was glorious! http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/packemin-productions-presents-mary-poppins-riverside-theatre-parramatta/ Packemin’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious production of MARY POPPINS is currently wowing ecstatic, cheering full houses at Parramatta Riverside. Bright, bold and colourful, it is an absolute treat. This show is the now-standard much loved Disney/Cameron Macintosh version, slightly amended/trimmed from the London version which was seen here at the Capitol several years ago now. Matthew Bourne’s choreography is not retained but rather altered and adapted by Camilla Jakimowicz. Yes there are still the allusions to his Swan Lake. Set in Edwardian times, the ever popular MARY POPPINS is based on the books by Australian author P.L.Travers, and narrates the tale of the rather dysfunctional Banks family, whose lives are changed completely and unexpectedly with the arrival of a new nanny, Mary Poppins. The Banks children, Michael and Jane, have rattled and disrupted a series of nannies of late. Will Mary Poppins be able to cope? Does she fulfill the selection criteria of both parents and children? You’ll have to see the show to discover what happens … It is an EPIC production with a GIGANTIC cast (perhaps rivaling Opera Australia’s Don Carlos with the number of people on stage, especially in the major show stopping mega- production numbers like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Step in Time, both exuberantly performed and dazzling. The costumes for Supercal appear far more Strictly Ballroom in design than Edwardian, or perhaps they are escapees from Wicked? They are very exciting and colourful. I saw the ‘White’ cast of children .There are marvelous, visually impressive unfolding/sliding sets and excellent use of projections/back drops/technical effects. Penny McNamee is perfect as Mary Poppins. Looking stunning, with her iconic carpet bag and parrot umbrella, she has wonderful fun and sings and dances terrifically, weaving her spell over the audience. Crisp, elegant and extra super-efficient is she a magical being from another world, a wish fulfillment nanny? Shaun Rennie is in fine form as Bert, who acts as theatrical magician and narrator. He sings, acts, dances – and flies- up a storm and plays the part with enormous relish. His subtler, quieter moments are handled well and contrast delightfully with the big numbers such as Step in Time and Supercal. Order and precision are what are required by the actor playing Sam Banks, and Sam Moran, yes, the former yellow Wiggle, fits the bill well. Moran sympathetically develops his seemingly rather cold and wooden character to reveal the sad, torn, harried and stressed man inside in a splendid performance. His uncertain situation– facing a financial crash and unemployment– is still extremely relevant today. Beautiful Kate Maree Hoolihan is terrific as Mrs Banks, a picture of Edwardian loveliness . We see how her character grows stronger as she strives to save the rather stormy Banks marriage. The two children Jane and Michael were delightfully played by Stella Barahona and Brendan Godwin. Jessica Kelly has a whale of a time as the cook Mrs Brill and Michael Curtin is tremendous as clumsy, seemingly boneless Robertson Ay. Natalie Davis-Pratt as the Birdwoman gives a touching performance. Mention must also be made of the impressive performances of Joshua O’Connor as Valentine and Joe Howe as Neleus . Monique Lewis-Reynolds has a tremendous scene stealing time in Act 1 as Mrs Correy in red and gold for Supercal and a terrifying Beardsley black and white demonic ‘the Holy Terror ‘ a.k.a ‘The nastiest Nanny in the world ‘Miss Andrew (Brimstone and Treacle) moment in Act 2. The battle between her and Mary Poppins here is intense and operatic– in this production I was reminded of the battle between Caraboose and the Lilac Fairy in the ballet of Sleeping Beauty . Playing the Game and Feed the Birds are presented with a light touch, not quite as dark as they can be, and far less is made here of Neleus the Statue’s search for his father than usual. Nevertheless a simply splendid production that will have you singing along and dancing in the aisles. Some of the really little ones in the audience may find it too long and appeared restless midway through the second half. The musicianship of the orchestra under the dynamic baton of Peter Hayward is exemplary. In this show anything can happen if you let it ….There is theatrical magic at Cherry Tree Lane…. Running time 2 hours and 45 minutes with one interval. MARY POPPINS is playing the Riverside Theatre at Parramatta until 8th August. For more details about this show visit https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/mary-poppins/
Yes the MacMillan classic .A terrific version here's my review : http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/paris-opera-ballet-presents-lhistoire-de-manon/ Lush, lavish, opulent and very detailed with a huge cast, this is an extraordinarily powerful version of the MacMillan masterpiece, wonderfully performed by the Paris Opera Ballet with a Gallic flavour. What makes this performance extra special is that it is the farewell performance by the amazing Aurelie Dupont. Dupont plays the part of Manon and she is simply superb. Technically the dancing, as one would expect from the Paris Opera Ballet, is outstanding, with fine ensemble work and dazzling displays by the leads. There is great attention paid to characterisation and the sumptuous, detailed costumes- set and costume design are by Nicholas Georgiadis- are magnificent. Just for example observe Madame X’s superb bronze coloured ‘Watteau – back‘ opulent dress. Mostly the Georgiadis designs are in russet, autumnal tones. The sets range from glittering salons to market squares, wharves and swamps. The stage lighting is very atmospheric. Macmillan’s demanding, athletic choreography is almost death defying at times, and the dancers of the Paris Opera delight in the challenge. In some ways structured in a similar way to a traditional nineteenth century ballet, the work nevertheless broke new ground when it premiered. The Orchestra of the Paris Opera, under the excellent baton of maestro Martin Yates, is tremendous. My general comments about one of my favourite ballets remain synonymous with what I about the Royal Ballet production. There are several amazing pas de deux spaced throughout the ballet for Manon herself. These include a joyous, lyrical falling in love sequence with Des Grieux in Act 1, and a delicious, exuberant bed room scene that directly follows on. Also in regards to Des Grieux there are headlong rushes and jumps into his arms contrasted with smaller more intimate gestures of affection, (closely followed by an amazing, lust and corruption pas de trois between Manon, Lescaut and Monsieur G.M. whilst Des Grieux is momentarily away). Add to this the appalling, explicit rape scene with the menacing jailer in Act 3 and the final, exhausting pas de deux again with Des Grieux As well, there is the magnificent, extraordinary set piece in Act 2 Scene 1 at Madame X’s where Manon is passed around by the men like a jewel, just another possession to be owned, with Monsieur G.M. stepping in and saying ‘she’s mine’ leaving poor Des Grieux broken hearted at her deception. You could also, at times, pick phrases of movement reminiscent of Macmillan’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Dupont’s Manon is a triumph. Elegant, beautiful, refined, she is regal with a distinct aura. She skims, floats, dives effortlessly through the fiendishly difficult MacMillan choreography. We see her change from an innocent young schoolgirl, deliciously in love, to a kept woman to what then becomes her disastrous downfall. The scene in Madame X’s where she is passed around by all the men has quite an intense almost suffocating atmosphere here and the final , despairing pas de deux at the end of the work is shattering . Des Grieux, Manon’s true love, was magnificently danced by a dreamily handsome Roberto Bolle. His solo introducing himself in Act 1 is heartstopping , with dazzling, impeccable technique including glorious fluid jumps, wonderful ballon and a fluid line. He is also tremendous in his partnering. Encore! Lescaut, Manon’s brother, was exuberantly, delightfully portrayed by dark, handsome Stephane Bulion. His blind, drunk solo and duet with his mistress in Act 2 was wittily, dangerously danced. Bulion’s saucy , foxy , flirtatious mistress was excellently danced by Alice Renavand . Taller, leaner and younger than we usually see Monsieur G.M, Benjamin Pech Is cold, implacable and determined to get what he sees and desires. His attitude is that money can buy anything. His passions are hidden under his chilly exterior. An interesting aside, does he have a foot fetish as revealed in the Act 1 trio scene with Manon and Lescaut ?! Karl Paquette played the Jailer with icy blue eyes, cold and full of menace in Act 3, sinister and chilling in the rape scene. My only quibble is with some of the cinematography was unnecessarily jumpy,fractured and distracting at times. The idea of seeing the traffic around Paris and the outside of the Opera, taking us to inside the theatre was great , but it was shot so fast one almost had motion sickness. And did we really have to ‘be told’ who was who at the start of every scene ? (yes it is helpful reminder sometimes , but … ). At the end, Dupont takes several solo curtain calls, in tears, and silver star confetti rains down to tumultuous applause both on and off stage. A sad, stirring finale. Running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes .There is one short interval and a feature interview with Dupont talking about her career and her experience playing the part of Manon. The Paris Opera Ballet in L’HISTOIRE DE MANON is screening at selected art-house cinemas until 29th July. For more details visit- http://www.palaceoperaandballet.com.au/production/lhistoire-de-manon
Like wow This was AMAZING Here's my reveiw http://www.sydneyartsguide.com.au/australian-brandenburg-orchestra-and-circa-present-french-baroque-city-recital-hall/ This must be one of, if not the, major landmark concerts of the year. The extraordinary talents of both the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa are combined in an incredible feast of a concert. This is a celebration of luminous, thrilling French Baroque music.The first half, for the Brandenburg Orchestra alone , is an aural feast in itself. We start with a bang with the huge Orchestra in Rameau’s Overture to Nais which was played very fast but in a controlled manner by the Orchestra dressed in their formal, elegant, dark attire. Laissez durer la nuit by Le Camus introduced and featured the splendid guest artist Claire Lefilliâtre, sleek and stunning with dark hair and eyes in a strapless bronze coloured evening gown, accompanied by her harpsichord and theorbo. She has a glorious rich vibrant warm tone of voice and was dramatic ,passionate and soaring in her lament of a lover seeking the darkness. Then came the multilayered suite from Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes .Dyer was positively beaming as he emphatically conducted swaying from the keyboard. The first section was rather elegant and stately, the second part a rather more formal dance (note the use of the Baroque recorders), the third segment was a circular dance for strings which were eventually joined by the woodwinds. This was followed by an explosive flurrying scurrying section with strings and drums. A dialogue between the two halves of the string section then followed. Dyer was dancing in the following fast round dance that included tambourine. This was followed by an exquisite, flowing lament from the string section and the finale was a stirring, boisterous, martial piece with flutes, drums and trumpets to breathlessly take us to interval. In the second half, a ‘’pasticcio” of assorted French Baroque music, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra was joined by the wonderful Circa company from Brisbane in a dazzling display. Translations of the songs were provided in the program. The interaction between the Orchestra and Circa members was tightly choreographed and performed with wicked enjoyment. Dyer conjured the Orchestra like a magician. In this half the Orchestra wore black and white outfits, Dyer wearing a floral detailed jacket matching the Circa members. The men of Circa all wore floral designs costumes, the women stunning long glamorous evening gowns in solid colours (red, blue, yellow, purple) with matching leotards underneath. The second half opened dramatically with standing backward somersaults. This was followed by an astonishing, joyous display of circus work– balancing, tumbling, juggling combined with swirling movements, formal dancing and plenty of floorwork. Musically the orchestra mostly shifted to the back of the stage, with a black tarquet floor and several white plastic chairs prepared for Circa and the singers. At one point there was a thrilling parade/entrance by Orchestra members. The Circa members performed fluid, rolling floorwork in their swishing , swirling long gowns. Did I detect a possible Pina Bausch/Meryl Tankard influence, and also Murphy’s Tivoli ?! The ‘Murphy walk’ was also used. Paul O’Keeffe had an amazing chair balancing act, Billie Wilson-Coffey had a mesmerizing silky ,swirling aerialist segment just to mention two of the many highlights . At a couple of points the huge entire Orchestra was crowded on stage as well as Circa, in simple lines. Lefilliâtre was also regally featured in this second half, ably supported by a handsome trio of male singers. This was as Dyer and Lifschitz in their opening night addresses before the concert reminded us , an exquisitely delightful ‘’entertainment’ that had the audience cheering and stamping ecstatically at the end. It is now 25 years since Dyer established the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and a new CD has just been released to celebrate this. It is well worth purchasing. Running time 2 hours 20 mins including one interval. MUSIC Rameau Overture to Naïs Le Camus Laissez durer la nuit Rameau Suite from Les Indes Galantes A pasticcio created by Paul Dyer featuring music by Marais, Lully, Rameau, Boesset & more THE ARTISTS Paul Dyer AO artistic director and conductor Claire Lefilliâtre (France) soprano Circa (Australia) contemporary circus Yaron Lifschitz (Circa) artistic director Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Members of the Brandenburg Choir – Mark Nowicki alto, Richard Sanchez tenor bass The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa presentation of French Baroque plays the City Recital Hall until Saturday 1st August. The concert then moves to Melbourne. For more details visit https://brandenburg.com.au/