A Broadcast Coup Review at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli

Young and the SSO reignited Sydney’s enthusiasm for Mahler last year with their triumphant performance of his Second Symphony to mark the reopening of the refurbished Concert Hall. The full house and standing ovation for this performance showed that the fire is still burning.

Ilya Gringolts plays Fracture
Australian Chamber Orchestra, City Recital Hall
February 7th
Until February 12th

Although framed by one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire – Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor – Ilya Gringolts’ program as Guest Conductor and Violin Soloist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra provided a welcome platform for rarities and discoveries. Gringolts is a superb player with a distinctive sound and approach, carefully tailoring his tonal palette to suit the expressive and stylistic needs of each piece.

Ilya Gringolts is a superb player with a distinctive sound and approach.

Ilya Gringolts is a superb player with a distinctive sound and approach.Credit:Julian Kingma

In Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 13 in C minor, itself a startlingly precocious exercise in stylistic imitation of the 14-year-old composer, Gringolts and the ACO avoided vibrato, producing a beautifully layered clarity with a sharp edge in texture that forbearance avoided without austerity to be.

Inclined, by young Sydney-based composer Harry Sdraulig, was in another way also an exercise in minute adjustments of musical style, with each of its 18 variations lending its softly creeping, fragmented opening theme a different ‘slant’ in terms of the traits emphasized. The overall form came across as two main sections, however, with the first half developing quickly with nervous energy, the second retreating to quiet, tension-laden chords. Moving through a warm cello solo and heaving stillness, the piece found its moment of truth in a plateau of emotional intensity before a brief moment of drama at the end.

Gringolts then gave a rare performance by Frank Martin Polyptyque for solo violin and strings, in six coherent movements, inspired by a series of miniatures in sienna depicting episodes from the Passion. The violin solo has a deeply human quality, capturing tender intimacy in the second movement and profound reflection and radiant clarity in the fourth movement. Here Gringolts has carefully graduated each movement like unfolding thoughts with moments of golden glow.

In the Bruch Concerto (arranged by Bernard Rofe for string orchestra with timpani) Gringolts allowed a rich romantic sound to flourish in full colour, but again eschewed excess in favor of cultivated expressiveness. The first movement brimmed with sinewy emotion, the second carefully nuanced each utterance and cadence with utter serenity, while the third let the spirit soar with earthy vitality.

Finally, Gringolts and the ACO revived another rarity, the Concerto for String Orchestra by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz (1950). Written when Poland’s artists were struggling with Soviet ideologies of social realism, the work achieved a penetrating clarity using a vigorous Neo-Baroque style of muscular energy, rescued from formulaic stylistic pastiche by inserting contrasting ideas of whimsical character and originality .

The ACO under Gringolts opened the year in superb form, bringing every moment to life with his signature precision, focus and panache.
– Peter McCallum

Opera Australia
Sydney Opera House, February 4th
Until March 10th

It usually falls to the operatic chorus to watch fate sideways, to create the ‘ordinary’ from which extraordinary things spring, to cheer, murmur derision, weep tears and fret somberly that these don’t end well becomes.

In Choir! the great Opera Australia Chorus, conducted by Paul Fitzsimon, seized its own destiny, pushing aside the prima donna and the primo uomo to make their own opera of 18 choruses written over three centuries.

Director Matthew Barclay, motion coordinator Troy Honeysett and lighting designer Matthew Marshall shaped a narrative of collectivism in which the crowd was not faceless but peopled by timidity and boldness, excitement and desperation, and in which individuals supported one another rather than killing one another.

The tale was about a crowd full of timidity and boldness, excitement and despair.

The tale was about a crowd full of timidity and boldness, excitement and despair.


Talk about a revolution! The stage, seen from the choir’s perspective, was set up as if from behind and littered with backdrop boxes, dangling cables and roll containers for collecting props.

In the Pilgrims’ Choir by Wagner Tannhauser male chorus members emerged obscurely from the darkness before reaching a stirring full voice with pianists Kate Johnson and Michael Curtain, followed by heavenly light from the female chorus.

As it turns out, such piety was more for the god of soccer than for heaven and Puccini’s humming chorus Mrs Butterfly quietly consoled the inevitable disappointment. After the Moon Chorus off Turandotthe scenario culminated in a succession of bucolic charm framed by numbers from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oneginwith Verdi Zitti, Zitti (Rigoletto) sung with muted pinpoint precision and the Anvil chorus The Trovator screaming with lustful fate.

A military episode began with the sham heroism of Bella vita military from Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte but the soldiers’ choir of Gounod fist left all the male singers murdered, mourned by candlelight by nuns of Verdi The Trovator. The darkness turned to love thanks to Offenbach and dancing, champagne and a wedding with music by Gounod and Johann Strauss followed The bat.

As the excitement evaporated from the chorus at the beginning of Act 4 by Bizet carmenthe toreador lay dead on the ground and a statuesque female choir member wailed with Purcell’s wings drooping Dido and Aeneas.

In let our garden grow of amber candidatethe singers confessed that they were neither pure, nor wise, nor good, but besides their great sound, the AO Choir had certainly proven that they could act, hold the stage, strike a pose and with small gestures evoke charm or fear that would draw the listener inside.
– Peter McCallum

Ensemble Theater, February 1

Until March 4th

Melanie Tait is a good playwright, but she just missed the mark in this case. B. plays and films Macbeth to Bernd Eichinger’s brilliant screenplay for demise (via Adolf Hitler’s Final Weeks) have shown, malicious protagonists are much more compelling when we see some types of charm that entice others to become victims or turn a blind eye. The problem is that Mike King, played by Tony Cogin, not only lacks the charm the play is supposed to have of him, he’s a reptile from the start, so his behavior doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Mike King, played by Tony Cogin, is a reptilian from the start.

Mike King, played by Tony Cogin, is a reptilian from the start.Credit:Prudence Upton

Mike has been a successful radio talkback host for 30 years with a nationwide reach from 9am to 12pm every weekday morning. He also likes to misbehave. Tait’s acting has him surrounded by women who move or morph between accomplice and confrontation, and her work is about the power that position can bestow and whether the lines around consensual sex are blurred or hard and fast.

He works for an ABC-like network (the contrast with commercial radio is emphasized), and when we first meet him, he’s fresh off the plane from Fiji, having attended an anger management retreat after he threw a mixer at an intern. Tait’s other characters are Louise, Mike’s longtime executive producer (Sharon Millerchip), Noa, a new junior producer (Alex King), Troy, the station manager (Ben Gerrard), and Jez, a former producer turned now hugely successful podcaster (Amber McMahon) .

Millerchip’s Louise is beautifully drawn and performed, and if Tait had created a Mike to match, or if perhaps Cogin could have exuded more appeal, A broadcast coup would be stronger immediately. “Could you be more of a cliche?” Louise asks Mike at one point, and therein lies the problem. As she routinely does, Millerchip commands the stage with utter ease, her Louise is smart, witty, quick efficient and obsessively engaged – so engaged she’s been cleaning up Mike’s transgressions for years.

Designer Veronique Benett’s ingenious use of the stage allows Janine Watson’s production to dart between different settings – office, studio, bar, Mike’s house – with a fluidity built into the script, crucial to a galloping comedic pace to maintain.

While everyone has a share of the laugh, the rest of the cast doesn’t quite match Millerchip’s performance — though their characters aren’t as complete either. Gerrard makes the most of the clean-living Troy, who does things by the book, instilling a wounded dignity in the face of Mike’s attacks and later an amusingly infectious elation.

McMahon scales down her usual charisma to make Jez absolutely relentless in her MeToo crusade, and while King is unbalanced as a young, high-spirited Noa, she nails a few scenes, including sending up Mike and his ilk.

The play yearns for another level of complexity to free it from predictable patterns of character, behavior and action. Although you can see the terminus on the horizon from a distance, you’re still drawn in irresistibly, both by the inherent morality story and by Tait’s snappy wit as Noa says to Mike, “Women find that celebrity celebrity, serious journalist, your t-shirt thing.” that you have will be super attractive.”

It’s also Noah who points out the stupidity of the idea that men don’t take the cue when someone rebuffs their advances.


“We are human,” she says. “Were set on picking up what others put down.”

Unfortunately, Mike isn’t just stuck in a time warp, he’s exploring a moral vacuum.
-John Shand

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https://www.smh.com.au/culture/music/talkback-host-dials-the-sleeze-up-to-eleven-20230202-p5chay.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture A Broadcast Coup Review at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli

Jaclyn Diaz

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