Monday, July 30, 2012

Reunion and art galleries

Last Thursday, P. and I went to the Melbourne University Student Theatre reunion and website launch.  First, there was a stage performance in the Union Theatre which included current students doing a scene from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, the Chinese theatre and the Dig (?) collective in a crazy hommage to Cate Blanchett. There were also guest appearances from Max Gillies, Joanna Murray-Smith, Sue Ingleton and Rod Quantock, giving tributes to the experience of student theatre. I didn't find many old thespians, except Catherine L. and Alison F. (who I invited having heard she was in Melbourne from Alexis W.) It was followed by drinks and canapes upstairs, and was a lot better than I expected.

A pleasant lunch on Saturday at Madame Sousou's (Frank was in Brisbane) after the shopping I had the very rich French onion soup), then on Sunday we picked up Vincent the i30 and Lorraine E. and headed to the McClelland gallery for an exhibition of modernist sculptors: Clive Stephens, Vincas Jomantas and Clifford Last. It was a bit damp underfoot to venture far on the E. Murdoch walk around the grounds. Then we went to the Mornington Art Gallery for their exclusive exhibition, Controversy: the power of art. A wide-ranging exhibition, well curated by Vivien Gaston, this covered most areas of controversy in art from Jackson Pollock to Ivan Durrant (who seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence) and Juan Davila.

After the exhibition, we went into Mornington for lunch at the busy DOC, an Italian eatery. I had the buffalo mozzarella with shaved fennel and anchovies. Yum! P. and Lorraine had very nice looking pizzas. At last the culinary wasteland has a good eatery, albeit difficult to get into.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Workmanlike Figaro

On Tuesday, Frank, P. and I went to the Victorian Opera production of The Marriage of Figaro after a quick meal at Yoyogi in Swanston Street. It was conducted by Richard Gill, who led a much-expanded Ludovico's Band on the fortepiano, so did not have a respite all night. The use of 'original' instruments and the intimate nature of the performmance (stage thrust into the orchestra and smallish theatre) made for a very good production, surprisingly well acted for an opera stage. It was directed with some tact by Jean-Pierre Mignon and with a uniformly good cast but with a standout performance by Jacqueline Porter as Susanna.

Back at the ranch, I'm ploughing on with the huge manuscript. I'm down to about 190 000 words to go, so the end is not in sight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Musical duo

Last night, P. and I went to the Australian Chamber Orchestra cut-down concert, which consisted of Schubert's Trout Quintet and Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps. But first we had dinner at My Mexican Cousin, next door to the Recital Centre. It was an excellent dinner: I had the prawns and grits entree, and P. has oysters Rockefeller. Then I had the spicy rabbit casserole and P. had the chicken. We were very full by the end.

The concert was excellent. All of the players were good, especially Paul Dean on clarinet in the Messiaen. It was also a very varied audience: lots of people in casual and one couple with the man in tails and the woman in black velvet and pearls! P. suggested that they might be steampunks, though they probably didn't have enough makeup.

Plans are going well for the trip. We now have a houseminder while we're away (potential burglars take note). There are only a few things left to do before we go, including finishing this huge manuscript. I don't have to, but I would rather I did so I've got a clean slate when I get back to get going on another fairly large project. I went to a meeting about it last week, and it looks fine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Queen Lear

On Sunday, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner: a spicy beef pie, followed by a delicious chocolate pudding. Yum!

On Tuesday, we went with Sal to an early performance of Queen Lear, which has had some rather undeserved poor reviews. Robyn Nevin was superb in the title role and the rest of the cast were at worst competent, and at best, superb. It is a big ask, this play, and this production got over most of the problems. I think the poor reviews were based on misunderstandings: not realising the domestic nature of the intrafamilial conflicts and the nature of Nevin's 'demented old lady' Lear. I think the reviewers missed the stagey raging of the numerous old hams who have played Lear before. Nevin was much more plausible in the development of her 'madness' and the play was more satisfying because of it.

Afterwards, we had a tasty bite at Our Mexican Cousin next door.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been powering through the large manuscript which has been defeating me for ages. I think it is working now and, more to the point, sparkling, which it should. Only 223,000 words to go, though I'm aiming on getting the whole thing down to 120,000 by the time I've finished.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Opera in the 'burbs

On Thursday night, P., Frank and I made an excursion to East Caulfield, to the Monash campus to see the Iopera production of The Emperor of Atlantis. It was written in a Nazi concentration camp, and, when the guards realised it was sending up Hitler, the writers were despatched to Auschwitz, where they promptly were killed (one of them) and died (the other). With musical direction by Peter Tregear and directed by Gert Reifarth (of the Aesopics book) with a uniformly good cast, it was an excellent production, done with great finesse and attention to detail.

Afterwards, we went to a local Chinese and had blasts from the past: lemon chicken and special fried rice.

On Saturday, it was farmers' market day, then shopping and we met Lesley P. and Louise L. for lunch at Marmalade and Soul. As usual, it was excellent food; I had the special eggs carbonara, not good for the chlorestorol, but very tasty. Everyone else's offerings looked good too.

Today, after the crossword, P. and I went to the Potter Gallery at Melbourne Uni. The travelling exhibition from the Portrait Gallery on psychological portraits was good, as were the landscapes from their own collection. The prehistoric Cypriot pots were a bit opaque and the top floor contemporary works seemed a bit pretentious. They'll probably turn out to be the trendy artists of tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A great relief

Last week, I solved a problem (which I think I have mentioned before) of how to restructure a huge manuscript. I did 50 pages of it to see if it would work. It did. Now, for my sins, the author wants me to do the lot. I'm not sure whether I can finish it before the overseas trip, but he doesn't seem concerned. Ah well!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it was very normal shopping on Saturday, brunch at the old Red Tongue and in the evening, the intervarsity choral societies performed Berlioz' Requiem, along with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, with guests, especially lots of percussion and brass. The Dies Irae was especially thunderous and brassy. (Did the earth move for you, dear?) It was a lot of fun and very good, though there seemed to be more alumni in the choir than university students.

On Sunday, it was my father's birthday, so we organised a family lunch at Madame Sousou's. It turned out to be a good choice as, although they won't book for lunch, they put us in the side room which, for most of the time, was quiet. Everyone enjoyed their lunch and we left, very satisfied.

Then on Monday night, we went to Frank's for dinner: casserole and sticky-date pudding, good for winter. Now back to work.