October 2011

Arts & Letters

Opera masterpiece

By Peter McCallum
Neil Armfield - ‘Peter Grimes’, 2009

When Opera Australia staged Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes in 2009 (co-produced with Western Australian Opera and Houston Grand Opera), the company already had a venerable Grimes on its books that was far from showing its age. Yet the sad human plainness of Neil Armfield’s conception of Grimes – a work that profoundly represents the isolation of the human condition – combined with Stuart Skelton’s faultless performance in the title role and strong partnership with Susan Gritton have etched this opera on the memory like few others.

Skelton not only captured the visionary transcendence and fierce strength of Grimes but embodied these in his voice as he cut through the petty gossip of the crowd with the quiet sustained top Es in ‘Now the Great Bear and the Pleiades’. Ralph Myers’ design placed the work in a drab, stifling community hall while, to the side, the unfathomable sea threatened and beckoned. The spectre of the absent sea – the source of hope and terror, nourishment and death, origin and destination – is greatly felt in this production, manifesting itself in the four orchestral interludes where conductor Mark Wigglesworth managed to conjure distilled clarity, like clear thought on the edge of the void.

—Peter McCallum

Peter McCallum
Peter McCallum is the Sydney Morning Herald’s classical music critic and is Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Sydney.

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

Iraqi sandwich test: white flight

They’ve seen worse than a media beat-up in war-torn Fairfield

Image from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’: a safe take on the rogue’s origin story

Ron Howard’s entertaining prequel is missing the looseness Han deserves

Cover of A Sand Archive

‘A Sand Archive’ by Gregory Day

Day grasps landscape as an intimate living thing

Illustration

The Captain Cook connection

One man’s campaign to have Gweagal artefacts returned to Australia


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


More in Arts & Letters

Collingwood

A song cycle in 5 parts

Image of The Cure in Brazil, 1987

The Cure’s permanent twilight

Robert Smith and co. are celebrating 40 years of the band. Why do they still inspire such love?

The elevated horror of Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’

This debut feature will test the mettle of even the most hardened genre fans

Image of Rhonda Deans exploring “the Squeeze”, Koonalda Cave, South Australia

‘Deep Time Dreaming’ by Billy Griffiths

This history of archaeology in Australia charts our changing relationship with the past


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Image from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’: a safe take on the rogue’s origin story

Ron Howard’s entertaining prequel is missing the looseness Han deserves

Editor’s Note June 2018

Image from ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’

Cannes Film Festival 2018 (part two)

Despite an off-key start, this year’s event ended on a high

Image from ‘Blackie Blackie Brown’ at STC

‘Blackie Blackie Brown’ at STC and Malthouse Theatre

Playwright Nakkiah Lui’s latest delivers comedy and carnage at a bracing pace


×
×