A thrilling knight to remember as Jonas Kaufmann sings Wagner’s Lohengrin

American soprano Emily Magee as Elsa has the problem of showing harmless and naive whereas singing with nice maturity; she rose to it superbly. Bass Daniel Sumegi largely appears to face round trying noble as King Heinrich, however he matched it with noble singing, whereas the ever-reliable Warwick Fyfe was a stentorian herald.

Lohengrin is the primary opera by which Wagner made the refrain an actual protagonist, and the augmented Opera Australia refrain was wonderful. Again, it was matched by an excellent Orchestra Victoria, sensitively performed by Tahu Matheson from the ethereal opening excessive strings to the magnificent brass.

In all, a beautiful evening, and gratifying to see that, post-pandemic, opera can nonetheless fill the most important theatres.

Barney Zwartz

Artist at work: Driftwood the Musical.

Artist at work: Driftwood the Musical.Credit:Cameron Grant / Parenthesy

Driftwood: The Musical
Book: Janie Bodie,
Music: Anthony Barnhill
Alexander Theatre and Chapel Off Chapel, till May 28

New Australian musicals have been laborious to return by even earlier than the current stage shutdown, and it’s spectacular to see Driftwood – primarily based on the true story of Austrian artists who fled the Nazis and wound up in Australia – come along with a lot expertise and dedication.

The household historical past behind this present, impressed by Eva de Jong-Duldig’s memoir of the identical title, is one among extraordinary braveness, ingenuity and creative triumph within the face of the enormity of the Holocaust and the unimaginable trauma and loss skilled by those that survived it.

It begins in Melbourne, 1956, on Eva’s 18th birthday, when her mom Slawa (sung by her personal great-granddaughter Tania de Jong) permits her to open letters and keepsakes that may reveal her mother and father’ previous.

We flashback to Vienna within the Nineteen Twenties, with a younger Slawa and her future husband Karl (Anton Berezin) courting whereas college students at artwork college. Art runs within the blood – Slawa’s sister and housemate Rella (Michaela Burger) is an achieved stage actress – however it’s Slawa’s impressed design that first makes a mark.

When she invents and patents the foldable umbrella, the couple marry and develop into well-established in Viennese society, adorning their house with specifically commissioned furnishings, their very own sculptures and different artworks.

Eva is born in 1938, months earlier than the Anschluss, and the full of life portrayal of an Austrian Jewish household in pre-war Vienna – steeped in Hebrew and German tune, love duets and a full of life Broadway quantity dedicated to Slawa’s invention – out of the blue vanishes.


The household makes a daring, suspense-filled escape by which sport and artwork each play a task: Karl will get to Switzerland for a tennis match, and Rella provides the efficiency of a lifetime, impersonating a rich Austrian lady to save lots of the household’s artwork treasures from Nazi confiscation.

Slawa and Karl expertise the dislocation and uncertainty of life as refugees and uncover the loss of life of members of the family in Nazi camps – each performed out with rapid-fire poignancy. Their embrace of life in Australia strikes into extra anthemic musical terrain, and the restoration of a trove of objets d’artwork restores a misplaced world left behind.

Driftwood could have over-sentimental touches, however director Gary Abrahams retains its emotional core vivid and convincing, and the chamber musical really feel – Anthony Barnhill’s rating is performed on piano, violin and cello – fits the fabric properly.

The singing is superb and ranges from the reverent harmonies of Jewish prayer to extra Broadway-style present tunes and at factors, strays nearly into operetta. And the design, which contains pictures and different memorials, anchors the artifice in private historical past.

Cameron Woodhead

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