October 2019

The Monthly Awards

The Monthly Awards 2019

The Monthly invited a panel of eminent critics, curators and practitioners to nominate the artistic works that they most admired and enjoyed over the past year. The resulting selection highlights the best of Australian arts and culture in 2019.

The Monthly thanks the members of its Arts Issue selection committee:
Alison Croggon, David Marr, Wesley Enoch, Jonathan Holloway, Stephanie Bishop, Benjamin Law, Terri-ann White, Michael Williams, Callum Morton, Katrina Sedgwick, Lisa Havilah, Brian Ritchie, Julian Day, Claire G. Coleman, Deborah Conway, Shelley Lasica, Susan Cohn, Miriam Cosic, Helen Elliott, Craig Mathieson, Geordie Williamson, Steve Dow, Luke Goodsell, Harry Windsor, Paola Balla, Annika Christensen, Julie Ewington and Sarah Holland-Batt

OPERA
‘The Magic Flute’
1/10
Photo by Tony Lewis

This year Australians finally got to see and hear The Magic Flute, Barrie Kosky style, at the Perth and Adelaide festivals. The production was created at the Komische Oper Berlin, where Melbourne-born Kosky has been artistic director since 2012, and had become an international touring hit before making it to these shores. Kosky’s take on Mozart’s 1791 singspiel – German comic opera with spoken dialogue – was well worth the wait, which first required the director to get over the traditional panto and vaudeville of more traditional stagings.

His secret weapon was the Margate- and London-based production company 1927, famed for integrating film and animation into its live performances. The fresh approach by the company’s founders, writer Suzanne Andrade and illustrator Paul Barritt, who had been unfamiliar with opera, saw this production’s bird-catcher Papageno dressed like Buster Keaton, followed around by his pet black cat, while Pamina wore a bob cut and frock reminiscent of Louise Brooks, who played Lulu in G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box. Their nemesis, Monastatos, was a Nosferatu plucked from the 1922 silent German horror movie.

The animations surrounding the performers constantly surprised audiences with their imaginative invention. While the production was a pure joy to watch, the singing was often rendered secondary to the spectacle, but this was also reflective of the fact Papageno was originally written by and for the opera’s librettist, Emanuel Schikaneder, whose vocal range was less than virtuosic. In this Flute, Norwegian baritone Tom Erik Lie made our hero lovable, while British soprano Kim-Lillian Strebel was a feisty Pamina.

While Kosky insists it is “very unlikely” he would return to Australia to run an arts company, prudent local artistic directors will hopefully continue to bring his provocative takes on opera classics to our door, from the flamboyant flourishes on Handel’s oratorio Saul to the outrageous absurdism of Shostakovich’s The Nose. The broader audience appeal of The Magic Flute compounds the artistic loss when Australia allowed Kosky – “I’m still always going be Barrie from Melbourne who’s living in Berlin” – to permanently leave our shores.


Steve Dow

 
 
1/10



View Edition

From the front page

Image of Industry, Science and Technology Minister Christian Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Image © Richard Wainwright / AAP Image

Porter’s complaint

Christian Porter wants his defamation case to run on his terms

Still from Shane Meadows’ ‘The Virtues’

Vice grip: ‘The Virtues’

Shane Meadows’ astonishing series stems from a late reckoning with his own childhood abuse

Image of artwork by Sarah Goffman

The moment of reckoning

Any addressing of parliament’s abuse, misogyny and sexism must also tackle its racism

Cover image of ‘The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen’

Body language: ‘The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen’

Echoing folktales and fables, Krissy Kneen’s memoir contemplates the body’s visceral knowledge of inherited trauma


In This Issue

The Monthly Awards 2019

Highlights of the year in Australian arts and culture

‘The weekend’ cover

‘The Weekend’ by Charlotte Wood

The Stella Prize–winner returns with a stylish character study of women surprised by age

‘Act og Grace’ cover

‘Act of Grace’ by Anna Krien

The journalist’s propulsive debut novel tackles the aftermath of the Iraq War

Still from Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’

No one’s laughing now: Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’

A gripping psychological study of psychosis offers a surprising change of pace in the superhero genre


Read on

Still from Shane Meadows’ ‘The Virtues’

Vice grip: ‘The Virtues’

Shane Meadows’ astonishing series stems from a late reckoning with his own childhood abuse

Cover image of ‘The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen’

Body language: ‘The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen’

Echoing folktales and fables, Krissy Kneen’s memoir contemplates the body’s visceral knowledge of inherited trauma

Cartoon image of man standing on chess board

Reality is irreversible

The systems game and the need for global regime change

Image of Cristin Milioti as Hazel Green-Gogol in Made for Love

Can’t get you out of my head: ‘Made for Love’

Leading April’s streaming highlights is a subversive black comedy that takes coercive control to its digital extreme