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

24 September 2013

Riverstage Opera

The Brisbane Festival 2013
Verdi in the Park
Saturday 21st September.
On the bank of the Brisbane River, in the Botanical Gardens and under the stars thousands were treated to a glorious evening of music by The Queensland Opera and The Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Above is the stage in front of thousands on the grass up the slopes but unfortunately there where several annoying kids right at the front of the stage who yelled, ran and danced around while the singers were trying to create moods and beautiful music. A family evening to me is one where children are given the chance to experience something new not be let run wild to distract both performers and audience. The professional singers and musicians soldiered on but it must have been difficult.
Celebrating of the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth, renowned soprano Cheryl Barker and fabulous young tenor Kang Wang, Emily Burke, Douglas McNicol, David Hibbard and the famously mighty Opera Queensland Chorus gave a passionate concert performance conducted by Simon Kenway.
Watch out World
Kang Wang is on the way!
Tenor Kang Wang whom I saw last year at the Queensland Conservatorium in The Rake's Progress was born in Harbin, China to parents who are both opera singers. As a student at The  Conservatorium he worked under Mr Joseph Ward OBE and was the "People's Choice" of the Dame Joan Sutherland National Vocal Award 2010 and one of the five finalists of the Australian Singing Competition 2010. A favourite amongst Brisbane audiences and me for his leading roles in several operas at the Conservatorium.  This youthful tenor was the star of the evening. Set against a bunch of professional and seasoned singers Kang as usual drew the attention and huge reaction of the audience. 
He is due to launch a huge career like so many that have graduated from the Concervatorium here. It has an unusually high rate of world stars emerging from its stages under the guidance if some of the phenomenal teaching staff over the years like Lisa Gasteen, Margreta Elkins, Donald Smith, Janet Delpratt.

Twenty one arias, duets, quartets, choruses and orchestral pieces made up the two and three quarter hour evening. La Forza del destino - La Traviata - Unballo in maschera - Ernani - Rigoletto - Il travatore - Nabucco - Otello - Aida. It was a treat. Douglas Mc Nicol's 'Credo' from Verdi's Otello had me screaming Bravo this was exciting as I will see him sing Iago on stage in Otello next month. Also the the Quartet from Rigoletto has sung with such absolutely sublime perfection I found myself yelling yet again.

19 September 2013

Australian String Quartet

The Brisbane Festival 2013
Monday 17th September Qld Conservatorium Theatre. 
Kristian Winther (violin) Stephen King (viola) 
with Guest Artists Ioana Tache (violin) and Sharon Draper (cello)
Australian String Quartet with Andrew Ford
Mendelssohn / String Quartet in E minor op 44 no 2
Andrew Ford / String Quartet no 5 (new commission)
Arvo Pärt /  Fratres
Debussy, String Quartet in G minor op 10
This is not the ASQ but a performance of the 'Arvo Part Fratres' arranged for String Quartet as we heard this week..
Another wonderful evening of great playing and another commissioned work (this time by Andrew Ford) which happily is a regular addition to ASQ concerts. My cousin also attended and now three of us are subscribing for the 2014 season.
The remarkable and absorbed Kristian Winther who is simply amazing to watch and to hear.

When Time Stops

The Brisbane Festival 2013
Saturday 14th September 2013 Playhouse Theatre QPAC.
A combined performance by two wonderful local groups Expressions Dance Company and The Camarata of St. John's chamber orchestra.
 A new ballet by Natalie Weir with a new composition by the great Australian composer Iian Grandage who won two Helpmann awards this year.
 This was an evening of the most professionally intricate movement and thrilling string work to spectacular music on a great set brilliantly lit. You could tell from the reviews and the cheering that everyone including myself was knocked out by the energy, the passion and the visual delight of 20 barefoot performers. 
The dancers flexed, intertwined, leapt, rowed and embraced in this inspiration of death, drowning, survival and all that happens when time of life stops. The musicians were also part of the physical performance as they wove their way throughout the dancers and became part of the choreography itself. The performance of the 12 young string players was outstanding, emotional, spiritual and wrenching.
The larger ensemble of Camarata of St John's.
One of the many glowing reviews This from The Brisbane Times.

When Time Stops was fantastic production to kick off Brisbane Festival. This original dance work from Expressions Dance Company was a stunning display of grace, strength and pure raw emotions.

The dancing took you through life's emotional journeys and managed to trap you back in the moment from the inescapable joy of your first kiss to the feeling of loss and grief in life. While nothing was said, the dancing and facial expressions of each performer was enough to elicit the desired reactions sought from the audience. This was confirmed after the lights came back on and I discovered a room filled with tears and strong applause.
The choreography was spectacular. The intricate lifts and positioning were timed perfectly. The slow motion pieces were so effortlessly displayed only then to take a sudden change to a hard and fast routine. The show demanded a lot from each of its dancers and it's safe to say they did not disappoint on delivering the goods.
The music was outstanding through and through. One thing that struck me was the clever use of bringing the musicians on and off the stage through the different sequences. This added further depth to the journey of emotions and it was a lovely way to allow the audience to appreciate their craft.

Ute Lemper

Awesome, Astounding, Legendary, Phenomenal, Powerful, Spellbinding. 
The Brisbane Festival 2013
Friday 13th September The Concert Hall QPAC
Beginning with an astounding 70 minute performance of her new album of her compositions for the love poems of revolutionary Pablo Neruda.
Following interval we were treated to some of the best of the best From Berlin To Broadway with songs by Kurt Weill. Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Chicago etc. - 
Port of Amsterdam by Jacques Brel  found me overcoming my recent reticence and screaming BRAVA! at the top of my lungs. This song has memories from numerous clips and performances. Once I saw Pete Seeger in concert and he finished his evening with the most ngripping and passionate performance of the Brel classic. He ended with a screaming "God Damm Amsterdam!" threw his guitar to the floor and walked off dramatically. Shit it was awesome.

After two and a quarter hours the final encore Milord found me the first to my feet yelling.
From Wikipedia:- Born 4 July 1963 in Münster Germany, Ute Gertrude Lemper was raised in a Roman Catholic family. She joined the jazz-rock music group known as the Panama Drive Band  at the age of 16. Later, she graduated from the Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna. Her diverse credits include musicals, such as her breakthrough role in the original Viennese cast of Cats, the title role in Peter Pan, a recreation of the Marlene Dietrich-created Lola in The Blue Angel, the original European Sally Bowles in a Paris production of Cabaret, and Velma Kelly in Chicago (Lemper has played the role of Velma Kelly in Chicago in both London and New York. She won the Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in London). She also dubbed the singing voices of Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid and Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame for German-speaking audiences. However The Little Mermaid was redubbed in 1998. A painter in the neoclassical style, Lemper's paintings have been showcased in numerous galleries. Lemper, a mother of four, resides on the Upper West Side section of Manhattan in New York City. She performs worldwide, recently in the Middle East. Her autobiography was published in Berlin in 1995. She has also authored several journal articles.
My collection of Ute Lemper CDs
Once before, quite some years ago I bought tickets to see Ute Lemper but was overcome with a powerful case of agoraphobia and could not go. I had to give away my tickets. So glad I finally made it.

The Wizard of Oz

The Brisbane Festival 2013
The Wizard of Oz
Some rave reviews which were universal across the country.
Saturday 7th September The Danger Ensemble at La Boite Theatre for Brisbane Festival 2013
The Danger Ensemble never fail to impress. To date I have seen their original productions 'I War' , 'Children of War' and 'Sons of Sin'. Always innovative and challenging and universally praised. I am lucky enough to have made numerous friends through their work, both cast and audience.
Their take on the Wizard of Oz references the film and the books, but they take us on a more disruptive and schizophrenic journey along the Yellow Brick Road where the ageing, chain smoking, heavy drinking Judy G or Judy Goddammit yearns to go over the rainbow and become the fantasy of Dorothy, but ends up as Toto. This is a taste of what this full evening brings.
Director - the intensely imaginative Steven Mitchell Wright
Devised by the cast but honed by Writer Maxine Mellor
Chris Beckey  (I War)
Margi Brown Ash
Caroline Dunphy
Thomas Hutchins  (Sons Of Sin, As You Like It)
Lucy-Ann Langkilde
Thomas Larkin  (As You Like It.)
Polly Sara
Two stand out other participants were Dane Alexander who composed the music and sound design. Evocative, brilliant, compelling and another outstanding feature of the show. A name that has popped up over and over again in my recent visits to the theatre and across many many companies is lighting designer Ben Hughes. This young artist is a wizard, and lecturer and already gathering awards for his work.
Watch and listen.
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