- 31 May 2016,
- John Studdert
Andrew Ford After Wagner
Wagner's legacy, musical and otherwise, has long been an unavoidable issue for the composers who followed him. Right from the start, there were those who embraced his example (Bruckner, Schoenberg, Debussy) and those who rejected it (Stravinsky, Satie . . . and Debussy again!).
Even today, more than 130 years after Wagner's death, many composers still feel strongly drawn to Wagner and his music or strongly repelled by them.
Andrew Ford is a composer, writer and broadcaster, and has won awards in all three capacities, including the 2004 Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl, a 2010 Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt's Wife and the 2012 Albert H Maggs Prize for his large ensemble piece, Rauha.
His music has been played throughout Australia and in more than 40 countries around the world.
He was composer-in-residence with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (1992–94), Peggy Glanville-Hicks Fellow (1998–2000), Australia Council Music Board Fellow (2005–06) and resident composer at ANAM in 2009. In April 2014 he was Poynter Fellow and Visiting Composer at Yale University.
A former academic, Ford has written widely on all manner of music and published eight books, most recently Earth Dances: music in search of the primitive (2015).
He has written, presented and co-produced five radio series, including Illegal Harmonies and Dots on the Landscape, and since 1995 he has presented The Music Show each weekend on ABC Radio National.
12.30 PM DVD
Anna Russell – The Ring of the Nibelung
Goethe-Institut, 90 Ocean St, Woollahra Followed by Afternoon Tea
All welcome - $20 for members, $25 for guests and $10 for students
- 18 May 2016,
- John Studdert
The Last Night - Gotterdammerung 22 May
On the anniversary of his birthday – 22 May – Wagner would have been very well pleased with this performance. The narrative was crystal clear, the sets were interesting and actually added to the drama, the singers – all of them – were in top voice, the acting was superb and the orchestra, under the baton of resident conductor Philippe Auguin was spot on and there was not ONE dancer in sight!
This was an exemplary night. To my mind this Gotterdammerung is one of the best I have ever seen. My first Ring was in 1990 – the Kupfer/Baremboin Ring – and this will always be the best
The Norn scene was vocally and dramatically exciting. Instead of the tread of life the Norns struggled with massive glass fibre cables. When the connection broke off with a flash half the audience jumped. The Norms were in fine voice. This is often a hard scene for an audience to deal with and the measure of success is the apparent time lapse. In this case we are talking about five minutes!
This is not a review so I will not go through the opera scene by scene – though it deserves it.
Act 1. 5 out of 5. Thrilling.
We had high expectations for Act 2 and they were fulfilled. The act opens with Hagen in bed with Gutrune trying to make a TV remote respond. I shared his frustration. Some didn’t like this aspect but I thought the Hagen/Alberich interplay worked. Both were in fine voice. The oath scene was moving and the Chorus was spectacular.
(Yes these notes are full of superlatives)
Act 2, 5 out of 5. Thrilling Act 3
We staggered back for Act 3 with smiles on our faces. Those 80 (sic) or so Australians at the Ring were saying ‘the trip was worth it just foe this opera’.
The dramatic moment just now continued. Siegfried’s funeral march did not disappoint though there was some overacting by the dying hero (Mino point!)
Nina Stemma did not disappoint in the Immolation scene. This was an exciting voice at its peak and the acting from this consummate performer was simply first rate. Yes, we had shivers up the spine.
One controversial aspect of the immolation scene was the takeover of Gibichung HQ by the hitherto repressed women folk. This political statement was not necessary but I had no problems with it.
The curtain call saw the stage filled with a happy cast, chorus and orchestra as well as the Conductor and Director Francesca Zambello. The biggest cheer was for Ninna Stemma but all on stage received a thunderous reception.
Act 3 and the opera itself. A thrilling 5 out of 5. Cast Nina Stemme Gutrune – Melissa Citro Waltraute – Jamie Barton Siegfried –Daniel Brenna Gunther – Ryan McKinny Alberich – Gordon Hawkins Hagen – Eric Halfvarson.