Monday, May 28, 2012

More or less arty weekend

After normal shopping on Saturday, including a convent market, Frank, P. and I went to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Belshazzar's Feast, where very large forces gave good oomph! The concert also included Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and Lambert's Rio Grande. The Sitwell's, Osbert and Sacheverell, who contributed the words to two of the pieces, didn't impress with their poetic talents, but the music was great.

On Sunday, we headed for Frankston and Mornington for what turned out to be a splendid art experience. At the McClelland Gallery, there was a travelling exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery of Asian self-portraits which were fascinating. A lot of the artists are based in Jogjakarta which made me think that it's worth another visit (though the last time we were there we all scored food poisoning). We also wandered the grounds to see the many new sculptures and some old favourites.

We then headed, after lunch, to Mornington Regional Gallery for another travelling show, this time from the National Gallery in Canberra, a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein. Again, it was a great exhibition which gave the lie to Mark Rothko's criticisms of Lichtenstein. The work was quite varied, though much was in the 'pop' art genre. All the work was from the Gallery's (National) collection.

Though the day was a bit overcast, it didn't rain on us at all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hospital progress

I'm now down to one day a week for early morning visits to the transplant clinic. A week's gap is still not quite enough to squeeze in a trip to Sydney and Moss Vale, though maybe with good management I could do it. I'd better ask next time about the possible overseas trip in September or whether we have to postpone that to next year and just do a quick trip to Bali and the Hotel Tjampuhan. Either way, I'm itching to go somewhere.

Abbotsford goes trendy

Written up in The Broadsheet, a website authoritative on what's trendy in Melbourne, Rita's is a local eatery in Johnston Street (near the Vic. Park station). Frank, P. and I went there last night to try it out, in spite of them not yet having a liquor licence. It turned out to be quite good. Frank and I had the salt cod balls and P. had the entree special sardines. Both were very tasty. Then Frank had the Bingo Bango (?) pizza and I had the smoked salmon one, while P. had the risotto. Again, good taste and value. We then pigged out on dessert: with Frank and P. having the crumble and I just had pistachio icecream. All-in-all good value, though we could have settled for two courses, rather than three. Next time.

Travel plans are proceeding apace. We'll have to see the travel agent soon to see (a) whether we can do what we want to and (b) how much it will all cost.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New opera with legs

Last night, P., Frank and I went to the Victorian Opera production of the new opera Midnight Son by Gordon Kerry (music) and Louis Nowra (libretto). It stands the best chance of any of the Vic. Opera new operas of lasting into other performances. Because the operatic material, the murder of Maria Corp is traditionally operatic by nature with various modern twists, like the internet, it works very well as vocal and musical fodder. The performances were uniformly good as was the small band. We all found it engrossing, except P., who was less than impressed with the opera, though not the performances.

We had dinner at the Malthouse to start which combined good service with very large serves, more than I could manage. Today, I'm going on with the travel planning, which has now reduced to, maybe, Turkey, Burgundy and New York, or maybe Turkey, Greece and Burgundy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

More music

Today, P. and I went off to the Recital Centre for the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra second concert for the season. It was all Mozart, with three superb arias from young soprano Greta Bradman. She has a thrilling voice. One of the arias contained two high Gs above C which she negotiated with applomb. She also has a good lower register, so she is someone to watch in the future. Husband-and-wife team, Lerida Delbridge and Justin Williams, played the Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola, and made it seem easy (it isn't!). A wonderful concert and we got a subscriber free drink at interval, courtesy of Narkoojee Fine Wines.

After his work on the 3MBS radiothon, Frank is coming for dinner. P. has made a version of coq au vin.

Galah Concert

On Friday night, Frank, P. and I went to the 3MBS Gala Concert to kick off their telethon. Frank is a volunteer at 3MBS which lives around the corner from us at the Abbotsford Convent. It was a splendid and varied concert with the Consort of Melbourne with five songs, old and newish, Ludovico's Band with a varied program, the Melbourne Piano Trio with the Brahms trio no. 1 in B major for violin, cello and piano (Frank was roped in to turn the piano pages) and then Weber's Concertino for clarinet and piano with Paul Dean and Hoang Pham (from the trio). It was a shame that the audience was not bigger for such a good concert in intimate surroundings at the convent community room.

On Saturday, we did the shopping then had a good lunch at The Commoner. We all had their tasty cheese balls, then P. had the soft-shelled crab, and Frank and I the blood pudding with egg and mash. We all had nice desserts.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Week at home with colds

All of this week, P. has still had a cold and on Tuesday, I came down with it as well. So we are both nursing coughs, slightly sore heads and running noses.

Last Sunday, P. felt too ill to go to the Melbourne Symphony Windpower concert, programmed oddly at 11am at the Iwaki Auditorium. He was also worried about coughing too much. Frank and I went and enjoyed the principals of the winds sections perform works by Ligeti, Mozart, Vivaldi and Janacek. The Ligeti work (Six Bagatelles) included a last movement which was banned at the first performance as 'too dissonant'. Ligeti described it as 'a knife in Stalin's heart'.

The rest of the week was huddled by the heater until Thursday night, when P. and I went to the Arts Centre for the Red Stitch Theatre production of The Laramie Project: 10 years later. It was a collection of reactions in Laramie to the murder of Matthew Shepard ten years afterwards and was a compelling and thoughtful reflection on how history and memories are made and for what purpose. The production was good but slightly underpowered, perhaps because of the complications of frequent changes of set and costumes. It was as if the (very good) cast were diverted from their performances by the busy business. We had a tasty dinner beforehand at Chocolate Buddha in Fed. Square.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Culture in spades

On Thursday night, P., Frank and I went to Barber of Seville in the 1995 production of Elijah Moshinsky. It has worn well. It is the first production I have seen which actually showed how Dr Bartolo made a living and utilised the two servants to some purpose. The cast were good, though vocally not as strong as the cast we saw in Vienna a few years ago, but the production was better and more imaginative. It was a good night in the theatre.

On Friday, Frank had arranged a trip to Bendigo on the train to see David G.'s exhibition at the gallery at La Trobe University (Bendigo) so I joined him. As soon as we got on the train (on our free seniors tickets), it was obvious that a lot of the passengers were headed to the Grace Kelly's clobber exhibition at the Bendigo Gallery. It is a huge money-spinner for the gallery and Bendigo generally. A Bendigo tourism representative joined the train en route to give advice to the patrons.

We alighted at Castlemaine, where David picked us up, and we repaired to his place for coffee with his friends, Diane and Richard, who were also going to Bendigo. The exhibition was splendid, small but perfectly formed, and fascinating. We then had lunch at the pub opposite the gallery as most eateries were full of women of a certain age who were 'doing' the Grace Kelly. Bendigo was swarming with people. A pleasant trip back on the train from Bendigo followed.

On Saturday, P. had a bad cold, so Frank and I did the farmers' market and the shopping alone. The market yielded lots of things including a pork roast and a turkey roast (for the freezer). We lunched in Brunswick Street at Red Tongue.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Even more modern music

On Saturday, P., Frank and I went to the last of our Metropolitan series. It included work by Catherine Sullivan, John Luther Adams and Steve Reich.  There was a review in today's Australian about the whole series, which did imply that the last Reich piece was a bit repetitive and over long. I agree that it could have been about ten minutes shorter as it sagged a bit towards the end, but Frank hated it. It was certainly, as they say, controversial.

On Sunday, we went to dinner chez Noel, back from New York and many shows and musicals. As always it was a delicious dinner with spicy soup, chicken, rice and ratatouille, then poached pears. Noel is about to visit The Club (our name for the Royal Melbourne Hospital) for preparation for a series of ops. but had a time in New York first.

Today I went to Specsavers to be tested for new glasses. I now need separate glasses for reading and long distance. I should be able to manage that, as I don't want bifocals.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

More modern music

Last night, P., Frank and I went to our second Metropolitan concert. It was even better than the first including pieces by Hartke, John Adams, Glass and Reich (who was at the concert and received tumultous applause for his Double Sextet. Members of the Melbourne Symphony acquitted themselves very well, especially in the vigorous Music in Similar Motion by Philip Glass and the Double Sextet.

Beforehand, we had a good dinner revisiting My Mexican Cousin, which was very busy. I essayed the soft-shelled crab again, plus a very tasty pea soup. P. had the lamb shanks and Frank the chicken in tasty broth. We had excellent desserts. This place is very good though frenetic, like some of the music at the concert.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the roof has been repaired and I'm waiting for Peter the Possum Man to do his stuff with the possums and the rat(s) in the compost. I hope they are bush rats but I suspect Norvegicus.