'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

29 September 2012

Paul Capsis - Angela's Kitchen

Friday 28th September at the Powerhouse I saw the stunning Paul Capsis in his one man show 'Angela's Kitchen' which is inspired by his Grandmother and his relationship with her. He had been a big winner at the Helpmann Awards just a few days before.
Firstly I ran into him in the car-park and congratulated him on his two 'Bobbies' Helpmann Awards. He laughed that the pressure was on now. Then we sat and laughed through the most poignant memories of his life with his grandmother and her life and the whole family who had their roots in Malta and a little from Greece. Mr Capsis played multiple characters from his family in this non stop tour de force. His accents, his passion, his brilliance received such an ovation from the sold out crowd.

It is an embarrassing tale that many years ago after attending a brilliant performance of Paul Capsis where he sang and channelled the voices of people like Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas we were having after drinks when a friend suggested to Paul Capsis that I should become his new manager. We chatted as I hid my embarrassment and then in the following days Paul rang me at work a couple of times to follow up on our discussion. It went no further, but it was a thrill even if a small over-reach for my young ambitions.
On the 24th September at the 2012 Helpmann Awards 
(The Annual Australian Awards for Live Entertainment named in honour of Sir Robert Helpmann) 
Angela's Kitchen and Paul Capsis picked up two prizes for the Best New Australian Work and for Best Male Actor in a Play.
Other highlight winners for me on the night included our own young legend Cate Blanchett - Best Female Actor in a Play, the outstanding and beautiful Queenslander Paul White - Best Male Dancer in a Dance or Physical Theatre Work for this Anatomy of an Afternoon video, and genius talent Tim Minchen -  Best Comedy Performer.

23 September 2012

Circus, Shows and Festival

Another couple of days of intensely wonderful events for The Brisbane Festival.
Masterpieces from The Prado
Friday 21st September in the afternoon at the Queensland Art Gallery
I have never been able to get into Spain as all my trips since 1975 coincided with some upset which meant the border was closed or trains were cancelled. This was a great opportunity to get to see some of the great art works up close and personal as the visiting exhibition.
The imposing Prado Museum in Madrid. One of the great collections in the World.
The Queensland Art Gallery makes the exhibition a full experience with gatherings, music. food and hands on participation for artists all in the theme of a visit to Spain.
Some of the more than a hundred masterpieces on loan.
We also took a photo, drank a Spanish beer and glass of Spanish wine, ate some Tapas and went wild at the bookshop afterwards. The huge catalogue of the exhibition is now on my bookshelves.
Friday 21st September in the evening at the The Playhouse.
I have known of this show for some time and was hoping that a Facebook 'Friend' the spectacular Eike Von Stuckenbrok might still be in the cast, but he is currently in yet another show in Berlin. Not to worry though, as the performance was thrilling. From unbelievable displays of strength, agility humour and balance to we poor innocents in the audience being sprayed with jets of water, the evening was huge. Still I was sad that I did not get to see Eike's bare arse up close from the 3rd row.

Laser Show
After the show we stepped just outside in time for the 15 minute Laser show over the city and on the river that happens 3 times a night during the Brisbane Festival.
After All This
Saturday Afternoon at the Vizy Theatre at the Powerhouse.
The audience is gathered in the open space of the great old Powerhouse complex for this multi award winning piece. After instructions we were led down to a space outside one of the theatres and sitting on the floor we explored two children discussing a nativity play, death and the name of God. It is an exploration of the afterlife and soon we were taken in to sit on the stage as two scientists discuss and disagree on a formula that explains who or what may have made us. The ultimate step of this obsession with delusional contemplation of the unknown is taken when we were led to a room that evolves into a literally 'in your face' mass cult suicide. At last out of the darkness we stood again and were led in file through an acoustic wonder of a tunnel as the cast chanted and one felt herded in obedience through the wonderful reverberations to emerge outside the complex and released back into the reality of the world with a mind full of questions, and ideas. A great experience and I personally thanked the cast as I filed through their final guard of honour.
I War
Saturday Evening 22nd September at the Billie Brown Studio.
The Danger Ensemble Web
From The Danger Ensemble's previous production.
I war was the results of two weeks workshopping a new play/opera/ dance/ multi-media 3 hour extravaganza/zygote stage exploration of the the history, mythology and realities of War with a splash of hard video sex. Staged by a group called The Danger Ensemble, I hope to follow their work from now on. The 4 actors/singers/dancers playing Agamemnon, Acholles, Patroclus and The Greek Women we so fine. This is but one voice in what will be a much expanded piece and it was so tempting.
The guys in the cast - Photos and videos not from this production.
 I discovered a genius amongst the cast. Brendan Maclean who composed the music, sang beautifully, danced brilliantly and acted with passion. He is a gay Sydney based artist, singer, musician, broadcaster etc. I have included a couple of music videos below and some links.
Also an example of the wonderful and handsome Luke Kennedy who hails from Townsville here in Queensland. He has a great voice some freakishly high notes if you explore his dozens of other Youtube clips. Luke has, amongst many things, starred in Superstar and also toured the world with the Ten Tenors, released a CD etc. and generously thanked me for comments on Facebook.
Of course Luke Kennedy became a household name the following year 2013 on The Voice. Check this phenomenal duet out.

Then it was home to a renovations house warming party next door
Not bad for thirty six hours I thought.

15 September 2012

Bluebeard's Castle

Two great stars of opera Daniel Sumegi and Lisa Gasteen together with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Fritzsch spectacularly performed Hungarian composer Bela Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" last night. 100 years old it tells chilling tale of the eloped couple of Bluebeard and Judith coming to the Castle for the first time and passing through 7 doors to reveal the shocking truth. The drama is intense, the lighting was superb for a concert version which is appropriate for a two singer opera (from pitch black to subdued colours), and the singing was sublime.
The evening began with Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov and what an opening that was. 55 minutes of the most electrifying and sparkling playing that I have heard since I attended a Shostakovich Symphony on the South Bank in London back in 1975. The room was electric and the sound was like a fireworks display. Perhaps it is the Russion orchestration that brings this out, but the surround sound I was immersed in in the centre of the third row was unbelievable. It was also a thrill to see once again on the platform Warwick Adeney as the concertmaster. I recall Warwick as a just graduated student who we thought a huge talent and a little eccentric as he often played barefoot about 3 decades ago. Now his curly hair is a little grey and apparently he no longer objects to wearing shoes. His brilliant playing (including solo spots) elicited such a huge cheering response from the crowd. I am sure many recall this bright young artist from years ago. He was another graduate from The Qld. Conservatorium which produced the outstanding Lisa Gasteen who went on to be the great Brunhilda throughout the world and is currently Professor Gasteen at the same Conservatorium. Her gradual return to the stage in the last few weeks after a neck problem 4 years ago is such a welcome joy as shown by the excited cheers she received as she walked on stage and the thunderous applause at the conclusion. She is a voice to be treasured. 

The evening was also blessed by the huge, and I do mean huge booming voice of Daniel Sumegi. What a thrill it is to hear such a rich and powerful instrument from this Australian born international star now based in New York. Perfection. It was a dark story and the drama was gripping as the commanding presence of both singers expressed their story with the formidable orchestration which also included the grand organ.

The young sweet looking Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok.

Extract of Bluebeard's Castle with Jessye Norman and Samuel Ramey from the Met.

The Queensland Symphony in the Concert Hall
Yes I had another phenomenal evening of music.
Below is a fun piece from Treemonisha by Scott Joplin performed by Jessye Norman and Lisa Gasteen for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth back in 1986.

Just a snippet of Daniel Sumegi about to lose his head in Salome by Richard Strauss

13 September 2012

L'Orfeo - WOW!!!

Last night was my first live Claudio Monteverdi opera L'Orfeo. Written in 1607 it is often referred to as the first opera although the surviving 'Euridice' by Jacopo Peri written in 1600 is my preferred starting date. Beginning with the familiar grand trumpet fanfare (signature tune for the Duke of Mantua and used repeatedly by Monteverdi) it was outstanding. 10 minutes into the evening I did not know whether to cry or scream 'FUCK!" at the top of my voice as I was so excited.  This is the opening fanfare below. The production I saw was less elaborate, but no less intense in the more intimate surrounds of the Conservatorium theatre and I sat just feet away from the performers.

This was the first opera performed by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and it was also the premiere performance of a new edition of the score prepared by Italian early music specialist Rinaldo Alessandrinni with special harmony for keyboards. It was a semi staged performance with the cast in costumes performing in and around the orchestra which was on stage. The sound of original instruments was brilliant. An Array of Baroque Violins, Cello, Cornetto, Sackbut, Theorba, twin Harpsicords and Organs and an array of bells and jangly things made a live sound unique to my ear.
The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra with director Paul Dryer.
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Web
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra Facebook

Bavarian international tenor Markus Brutscher sang Orfeo with the power and passion of a true lover. He has performed in so many great opera houses and made over 50 recordings. He was impressive from his first notes and stunningly handsome.
Markus Brutscher Web Site
Sara Macliver is one of Australia's leading exponents of the Baroque. Her singing of Euridice/La Musica was beautiful.and rich as she balanced on some killer stilettos.
Bass Baritone Morgan Pearce who sang Apollo (the golden shoes of the sun god) and several other roles is a mere 24. His outstandingly precise and strong voice is a jewel. In 2011 he moved from Sydney to London as the inaugural Joan Sutherland scholar and the Royal College of Music. Just watch out for him as all indications and predictions are for a stunning career. His exceeding good looks and voice will be an asset to the stage. This is a good indication of how this boy sounded at 23.

Morgan Pearce web site
The booming bass/baritone voice of Wolf Matthias Friedrich boomed with true menace as he played Caronte/Plutone in Orfo's trip to Hades. He has inspired audiences around the globe for 30 years with his outstanding range and depth.
Wolf Matthias Friedrich Web Site
Mezzo Soprano Fiona Campbell as La Messagiera and Counter Tenor Tobias Cole as La Speranza. I had just seen Mr Cole as an outstanding Oberon in Benjamin Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' with Opera  Australian back in June.
Two more beautiful voices were Richard Butler who had a wonderful baritone voice and managed to go red eyed and cry real tears at the distress of Orfeo after news of the death of Eurydice. Idon't know how he was able to sing with such a lovely tone with tears streaming down his face. I was in the third row so I could see and hear everything. Also the personality plus young tenor Robert Macfarlane. He too is off to further his considerable talent to study in Leipzig.
The other wonderful cast members were Sioban Stagg, Anna Sandstrom, Sarah Ampil, Paul Sutton and Nick Golbert.
As one review said "Performance fit for the ears of the gods."

There is a great DVD I own of Orfeo from Madrid under the direction of William Christie.

07 September 2012

Visions of Place

Tributes to place.
As part of the human experience is an ingrained sense of place. That perceived special relationship with the earth, personality drawn partly from identifying with the where and love of the familiar surrounding is not unique to any one people. In Australia the Aborigines claim a special relationship to the land and it is true and accepted, but that relationship has also seeped into the soul of the majority who are immigrants to this country. 

'Welcome to country' by an elder is the initial part of ceremonies and celebrations here in Australia. It is an inclusive act by the original owners of the land to offer to be part of where we are. Throughout the world there is love of country and love of the connection to where we call home. To me however, that love, pride and passion for our place must never underestimate how strong that same feeling is in others for their own place. I believe strongly that one should never say "Mine is the greatest country on Earth' as this insults everyone else. One should never do or say what separates, but insist on doing what unites and shares. Remember one should 'Welcome to Country' not exclude the stranger. Xenophobia is the sign of a weak and cowardly mind. Rejoice in the place we call earth as a whole as well as the patch on which we wander.
Variety of Place
All places like all people are beautiful because they are unique. All places have something to offer. All places are home to someone or something. All places encourage us to express things in different ways. All places reflect a history. Accepting that makes us better; all of us.
Below are places that make us happy, wonder, rejoice, reflect, laugh, express, live.

Broadway New York





Ken Russell's Russia The ultimate Cities tribute by Monty Python


Europe and a State of Mind
City by Bloom

 from BLOOM! 
Seph Stanek - Countries of the World

02 September 2012

The Rake's Progress

On the 1st of September I attended the opening night of Igor Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress" by the students of the Queensland Conservatorium
Conservatorium Theatre/Auditorium.
To a libretto conceived in 1949 by poet W H Auden and Stravinsky, it is based a series of paintings called 'A Rakes Progress' by the 18th century English artist William Hogarth. The canvases were produced in 1732–33, then engraved and published in print form in 1735. The series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling, and as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bedlam, the Royal Hospital for the mentally ill
In this version the Rake is under the influence of Nick Shadow, a devil of a character.
This wonderful production was so well conceived and there were for me two shining talents. Kang Wang as the brilliant tenor Tom Rakewell and the tall, elegant and impressive baritone Samuel Johnson as the barefoot Nick Shadow. Both these boys should have big careers.
Kang Wang at a masterclass with the world renowned Lisa Gasteen (the great Brunhilda) whom I used to watch when she was also a student some 30 years ago at the conservatorium here in Brisbane. Also a youngish photo of baritone Samuel Johnson who just oozed a wicked personality on the stage. Check out Samuel Johnson Barihunk.
All the cast had a strong presence and there was some very fine chorus work and playing from the student orchestra conducted by the internationally acclaimed Alexander Ingram (everywhere from The Met to Covent Garden and The Bolshoi). We have a magnificent conservatorium of music here in Brisbane and it has produced a stream of internationally acclaimed singers and musicians. Friends not always impressed by Stravinsky where swayed by the overall production, acting and fine very singing.

01 September 2012


A beautiful symbol of diversity.
The lovely and invaluable parts of the whole.
Where does nature's display of reflected colour come from? 
Light changes speed as it moves from one medium to another and this causes the light to be refracted and to enter the new medium at a different angle. A prism causes light of different colours to be refracted differently and to leave the prism at different angles, so white light separates into its constituent spectrum of colours. A rainbow is made of all the colours that make up the whole apparent colourless light with which we see clearly.
The rainbow spread across the sky that we rejoice in is an optical and meteorological phenomenon caused by light passing through droplets of water and being affected by the same refraction caused by a prism. The rainbow is once again the individual parts of the whole of light.

The first version of the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, in response to a local activist’s call for a community symbol. He designed a flag with eight stripes possible based on the flags of various hippie and civil rights symbols.
  • hot pink for sex,
  • red for life,
  • orange for healing,
  • yellow for sun,
  • green for serenity with nature,
  • turquoise for art,
  • indigo for harmony, and
  • violet for spirit.
With the availability of excess flags left over from a girls Masonic group and the unavailability of hot pink a seven striped flag was being sold in 1979. At that time any striped flag was used by the Gay Community as a symbol of gay pride (as opposed to gay liberation, which used the pink triangle on various coloured fields) Next came vertical banners that would be displayed on either side of old-style lamp-posts on Market Street.  The hot pink and turquoise stripes were officially dropped and the indigo stripe was replaced with royal blue - resulting in three stripes on one side of the lamp-post and three on the other. Soon the six colours were incorporated into a six-striped version of the flag that became popularised and today is recognized officially and internationally as the Gay Pride Flag
“I truly believe that if we put the strength of our hearts and minds together that we can change prejudice, and that my generation of kids can grow up appreciating the glorious rainbow of diversity.”
Rainbow Boy
Stunning 22 year old Indigenous Australian High Fashion Model Jake Gordon. His traditional Aboriginal name Yuluwirri Gabinya means Rainbow Boy. Discovered in Sydney and now based in New York. He is as beautiful as a rainbow.
Rainbow Buildings
Rainbow Undies
Rainbow Bodies
Rainbow Stuff

A Rainbow Superhero

This display of pride could get this amazingly brave boy imprisoned or worse in obscenely homophobic Uganda. All around the world there are situations like this and it takes enormous strength to stand up and take on your own country and countrymen. This pride in oneself is what heroism really looks like. It is not his job and he is not paid. He does it because he knows it is right and he must whatever the danger.
Rainbow Videos
The legend of The Rainbow Serpent 
narrated by the great and legendary David Gulpilil

Now this is good.

I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.

Judy Garland
The remarkable 91 year old Pete Seeger.
"My Rainbow Race"
I was swept away by him in concert some decades past.
In Oslo Lillebjorn Nilsen took Pete Seeger's song and made it into a Norwegian children's song called 'Children of the Rainbow.' Mass murderer Andreas Brevik denounced it as 'Marxist Propaganda. So 40,000 Norwegians turned up and sang with Nilsen it in the main square.

A huge Australian movement that went global to support Marriage Equality. Get some chalk and draw your own rainbow to make a gentle, safe and pretty statement saying you believe in equality.

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