Reviews

A night at the opera: art comes alive in a modern twist on Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims

In 1864, four years before his death, Italian composer Gioachino Rossini recalled to his biographer Alexis Azevedo that he would probably have ended up a “chemist or an olive oil salesman” had it not been for the French invasion of Italy. Peter Tregear The Conversation That invasion had begun in 1792, the year of Rossini’s birth. By 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte had established the short-lived Cisalpine Republic in Northern Italy, in turn raising hopes a unified Italian state might soon emerge. ... Read More »

Review: Patricia Cornelius’ Love reprises in double bill

THEATRE LOVE ★★★★ Patricia Cornelius, fortyfivedownstairs, until June 9 Patricia Cornelius’ award-winning play Love is currently reprising in a double bill – together with her play Shit – at fortyfivedownstairs, before heading to the Venice Biennale in July. Cameron Woodhead The Sydney Morning Herald It has been a stand-out year for Cornelius, who back in March won the lucrative Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama in the US, and it’s pleasing to see this most decorated of Australian playwrights finally attracting the… There’s something savage and protean ... Read More »

Helen Garner’s musical metaphors come alive in a new production of The Children’s Bach

A new production of an Australian opera is an unusual event. Michael Halliwell The Conversation The performance of Andrew Schultz and Glenn Perry’s 2008 opera, The Children’s Bach, as part of the Canberra International Music Festival, was refreshing and welcome. Perfectly suiting the central thematic strand of the Festival – the music of Johann Sebastian Bach – the opera is based on the 1984 novella by acclaimed Australian writer, Helen Garner. The title is derived from a book of relatively ... Read More »

The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree: A picture book about deafness

I’ll start with a disclaimer: I love Angeliki Pedersen, author of The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree. We attend the same parish, and I think I must have met her the first time we visited here. She’s the kind of person that reaches out to strangers at coffee hour and makes them feel welcome. © Charlotte Riggle As Angeliki and I got to know each other, we learned that we’re more than just members of the same parish. We’re also ... Read More »

Europe’s Glorious Years of Peace and Prosperity

The Munich Security Conference was a depressing gathering this February. By Michael A. McFaul The New York Times THE GLOBAL AGE Europe, 1950-2017 By Ian Kershaw Throughout the Cold War and for decades thereafter, Wehrkunde (as the conference was known when it started in 1963) was the premier event for Europeans and Americans committed to NATO, trans-Atlantic ties and the West. For decades, Senator John McCain led the American congressional delegation. In his last address to the conference in 2017, ... Read More »

Second Class Citizens: The Parallel Lives of Indonesian Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Your maid wants a day off? Your maid wants a room of her own? Your maid wants her own clothes? Your maid has Body Odour. Your maid has sex? The problems of maid ownership are laid bare in Rebecca Sampson’s wonderful Apples for Sale. Colin Pantall Photographic Museum of Humanity Apples for Sale tells the story of Indonesian Maids working in Hong Kong. It’s a book about migration, labour, and regional relationships. It’s about Indonesian maids working in Hong Kong, ... Read More »

Turkey’s Killing Fields

“The Thirty-Year Genocide” Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894-1924 By Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi By Bruce Clark The New York Times Using the word “genocide” to describe an episode of mass killing has consequences. If the horrors are unfolding now, it invites other countries to intervene and punish the perpetrators. If the unspeakable events are in the past, the word’s use can affect the way they are discussed, by historians or ordinary people. Once the term “genocide” has ... Read More »

‘In Put/Print Out’ achieves a very high standard

In Put/Print Out: Cicada Press. Megalo Print Gallery, 21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston. Until May 18. Of all of the traditional art forms, printmaking has been the one that has most depended on collaboration. Sasha Grishin The Canberra Times Printing presses are generally large, heavy and expensive, and the technical expertise required in many printmaking techniques is highly specialised. This has frequently resulted in the pooling of facilities and knowledge. Although many printmakers insist on complete ownership of the process in ... Read More »

Six books that shock, delve deeply and destroy pieties: your guide to the 2019 Stella Prize shortlist

Young people – how they think and feel, how institutions (families, schools, clinics, courts) fail them – are a recurring theme in the books shortlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize. Camilla Nelson The Conversation These six surprising books – four novels, a memoir and a collection of essays – cover subject matter as diverse as grief, loss, history, childhood, and Indigenous resistance. They make risky aesthetic choices. Some feature dazzling experiments with language, structure and form. Despite, or, more likely, ... Read More »

The Invisible Man

Introduced by writer Anna Funder The extraordinary story of Behrouz Boochani, the man who won Australia’s richest literary award but remains unable to set foot in this country. ABC Australian Story The stateless refugee, who’s in detention on Manus Island, smuggled out his entire book text by text on a smuggled mobile phone. In January, No Friend But the Mountains won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature, Born during the Iran-Iraq war and suffering persecution as a Kurd in his ... Read More »

Kate Mulvany’s The Mares bristles with energetic feminist storytelling

The Mares, a new work by playwright Kate Mulvany, was commissioned by the Tasmanian Theatre Company as a vehicle for some of Tasmania’s leading female performers. Jane Woollard The Conversation The work draws on multiple Greek myths to concoct a… The success of this complex and ambitious work owes a lot to Mulvany’s knowledge of the actor’s craft, and director Leticia Cáceres’ ability to create simple theatrical magic. Each of the performers plays at least three… The Mares flips between ... Read More »

Sue Smith’s Hydra: how love, pain and sacrifice produced an Australian classic

Running through Hydra, the new play by Australian playwright Sue Smith, is the myth of Icarus, the boy who flew so high that his wings melted and he crashed to his death in the sea near the Greek island of Samos. Alastair Blanshard The Conversation It is an easy myth to misunderstand. Moralists think it is a story that reinforces the importance of listening to your parents and sticking to the safe middle path – not flying “too close to ... Read More »

The best books by women of the 21st century

On International Women’s Day, writers and critics pick the best works by women since 2000 Martin Doyle The Irish Times SINÉAD GLEESON You don’t need me to tell you to read everything pre and post-2000 by the greatest Irish writer, Anne Enright (who just happens to be a woman) – but you really should. Or to read our poets: Eavan Boland, Rita Ann Higgins, Elaine Feeney, Sinéad Morrissey, Leanne O’Sullivan. You already know all about the success of Marian Keyes ... Read More »

A Man of Good Hope is no tale of triumph over adversity, but it is the story of many

In a world where so many are escaping brutality, war, persecution, and loss of land, is it possible to tell the story of just one displaced person, and in so doing, tell the story of many? William Peterson The Conversation With A Man of Good Hope, a theatrical adaptation of a biography of the same name by Jonny Steinberg, the Cape Town-based Isango Ensemble suggests the answer is yes. An energetic cast of over 20 actor-singer-dancer-musicians are shaped by director ... Read More »

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art is an exercise in spectacle

The exhibition Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art, Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is the first major loan to Australia from this repository of what have become the canonical art works of… John Clark The Conversation It deserves to be seen by all those interested in Chinese art, and hopefully will be the precursor for many such loans in the future. Perhaps it will also prod the National Palace Museum in Beijing to do a major loan exhibition, ... Read More »

Imperial Exceptionalism

It is hard to give up something you claim you never had. That is the difficulty Americans face with respect to their country’s empire. Jackson Lears The New York Review of Books Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms—“expansionism,” “the large policy,” “internationalism,” “global leadership”—to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, ... Read More »