Tuesday 29 August 1995

1995 Reviews by or about Kate Herbert, Herald Sun

1995 Reviews, by or About Kate Herbert, Herald Sun

 SNAKE PIT NEEDS MORE BITE   Herald Sun, 29-08-1995, Ed: 2, Pg: 043, 448 words , ENTERTAINMENT
The Snake Pit Where and when: La Mama, Carlton, until September 3 DECADES before Ariel Dorfman wrote Death and the Maiden, an Australian dramatist was writing her own version of "turn the tables on the torturer" set on the Gold Coast (of all places) ...

    TRIP ON WAY TO CLIMAX   Herald Sun, 29-07-1995, Ed: 2, Pg: 034, 110 words , ENTERTAINMENT
TRIPTYCH is not just a whodunit, it is a "who-did-what?" A woman (Nikki Coghill) brings home a bookshop owner (Sarah Chadwick) to her writer husband (Joseph Spano). The two women met only that day, but the guest seems to know Mr Wrong rather too well...

    CUB SITE PLANS   Herald Sun, 17-07-1995, Ed: 2, Pg: 061, 526 words , ENTERTAINMENT
CUB site plans RMIT University has got the site, it's got the plan and all it needs now is the money. The site is the old CUB headquarters at the top of Swanston St, which it wants to develop into a media centre and student housing. Architectural fir...

Sunday 6 August 1995

Pearl Fishers, Victoria State Opera, 6 August 1995


By Georges Bizet

By Victoria State Opera

At State Theatre, Aug 5, 8,10, 12. 14, 17, 18, 26, 1995

Review by Kate Herbert: 6 August for The Melbourne Times

Georges Bizet was 24 when The Pearl Fishers hit the stage in Paris in 1853 and it smacks of the kind of love story a young man would write. It is a melodrama, almost a soap opera reliant on characters and emotions painted in broad strokes. Two men fall for the same goddess-like woman who sings like an angel and walks like a dream in the night. The resulting jealousy tears apart their friendship.


This is a co-production for Victoria State Opera with the Australian Opera and was first performed in November 1988 with Deborah Riedel in the role of Leila. Riedel has a full-bodied soprano, smoothly modulated through all registers perhaps a result of her early training as a mezzo.


Patrick Power as Leila's lover, Nadir, has a sweet, pastel tenor and their two voices are delightfully matched for duets. Baritone, Lucas de Jong's Zurga was creditable and bass, Gary Rowley, was appropriately wicked as the villainous High Priest, Nourabad.


Tony Bartuccio's choreography incorporated an interesting melange of jazz and contemporary dance with eastern images. Their physicality enhances the alluring tableaux which director, Jamie Hayes uses to such great effect to open and close each act. Some of the performance and direction is too melodramatic and "old opera" in style but it is difficult to work against the tone of both the music and libretto.


French conductor, Emmanuel Joel and the Victoria State Orchestra were superb. Joel will conduct this production in London later this year. The chorus strengthened after act one where it seemed a little thin. Stage design by Kenneth Rowell was imposing and effective in its grand simplicity. George Kulikovskis' lighting design added a powerful dimension to the stormy, oceanic night scenes.



Tuesday 1 August 1995

Tosca , Victoria State Opera, 1 August 1995



by Giacomo Puccini

Victoria State Opera, At State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne,

 August 1, 4, 9, 17, 21, 26 1995

Reviewed by Kate Herbert on 1 August for The Melbourne Times.


Tosca was first performed in 1900 when melodrama was at its height in the theatre. In fact, he took his scenario from Sardou's original stage play with the title role performed by none other than the queen of histrionics, Sarah Bernhardt.


It is Puccini's extraordinary score and its combination of delicacy, vigour and tragedy which allows the tale of lovers lost to avoid the schmaltz which is so un-1990's. It reverberates with themes of judgement and danger, love and death.


The Victoria State Orchestra is conducted with subtlety by Roderick Brydon. The set design, the lofty grandeur which echoes the ruthlessness of Fascist architecture, serves to underscore the sense of portentousness but, during Act One, the double proscenium allows the orchestra to almost drown the powerful voices of the singers.


The direction was, at times, a little unimaginative and seemed to lack the obvious passion and sex intrinsic to Tosca. However, Acts Two and Three were dramatically most successful. The love story between Tosca (Joan Carden) and Caravadossi (Edmund Barham) is finally palpable.


Barham's final aria was inspiring. His voice is magnificent and his performance is more flexible and credible in Act Three. Carden's second Act lament as she pines for her lover then offers herself to Scarpia (John Wegner) was inspiring.


Which brings me to the star of the production for me. John Wegner, as the villainous, lusty and majestic tyrant, Scarpia, was sinister, sexy and dangerous. We believe him when he quips, "There are so many wines and so many women and I want to sample them all". He combines a superb, rich and vivid baritone with a riveting stage presence. How sad we have lost him to German Opera these days.