Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big Sing

Last night, P. and I went to the Oz Opera's Lucia de Lammermoor. Starring Emma Matthews in the title role, other great roles were played by Giorgio Caoduro as Enrico, Aldo Di Toro as Edgardo and David Parkin as Raimondo. The production was a bit on the minimal side, tonally as well as physically (all clouds, black and white) but the conductor, Guillaume Tourniaire performed with vigour and precision and the overall result made for a (nearly) credible opera (hasn't Lucia seen any other operas; she fell for that old forged letter trick).

Matthews was low-key rather than grotesque and her singing was precise and clear, rather than showy (though it was very impressive). The leading tenor took over the Joan Sutherland floating panel trick.

We went to old favourite Yoyogi for a meal first.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More music

Today, after doing the crossword and lunch, P. and I went to the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra's last concert of the year. With a healthy sprinkling of Vic. Orchestra and MSO members, they presented Haydn's symphony no. 70 (small and perfectly formed), then Bartok's splendid Divertimento which was breathtakingly performed. After interval, it was pianist Hoang Pham in an energetic reading of Mozart's piano concerto no. 20. Two encores later we emerged and went home to a salmon dinner, preceded by pork buns and followed by cheese (not too hot for the chlorestorol, but we're taking pills).

Tomorrow has to be full steam ahead on work.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Still running fast

I have managed to do a bit of work this week, though not enough. However, some of it was preparing for the Australian Publishers Association Indigenous Editing workshop on Thursday which went quite well (I think). I had to do a presentation with Anita Heiss on 'Treading Lightly on Someone Else's Territory' on various issues to do with editing and publishing Indigenous work or material. Then, after lunch, Jan Hutchinson and I did a workshop using an author's draft (handed out beforehand) to see what the participating editors would make of it. Later in the day, I particularly liked Bruce Pascoe's explosion of various myths and mistaken history about Australia's first people and author Dylan Coleman's account of the writing, editing and publishing of her book, Mazing Grace.

On Friday, getting much more work done was frustrated by needing to go to the local Health Centre for more pills and going to the hospital for a blood test before next Tuesday's appointment with my nephrologist.

On Saturday, it was Convent market day, then lunch with the old Penguinis at Florentino (downstairs) which was very pleasant. Unfortunately I missed talking with some people on the other end of a long table. I also made the mistake of going to the Hill of Content Bookshop beforehand and finished up with three books. Afterwards I went with Jo B. to the Benaud Trio with singer, Greta Bradman, excellently performing works by Brahms, Stanhope (two songs on texts by Lorca) and Shostakovich (seven songs). An excellent concert. After another concert on Sunday, I hope I can get some solid work done this week or I'll fall even further behind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It's been a busy week. We had a very pleasant dinner at Frank's place on Tuesday: pork belly long-cooked and I got on with some of my work tasks. Then we got the news that P.'s mum's funeral was on Friday, so there was a flurry of organising airfares and accommodation in Brisbane.

After a meeting at the government job on Thursday morning, we headed off in the afternoon (with my father's help in getting to the airport) and arrived in Brisbane on Thursday night and had a very nice dinner with his friend, Sue H. at a French place (Piaf) in Southbank. We were staying at the Central West End apartments where we've stayed before. It is very well located near lots of eateries, the art galleries and Southbank.

On Friday was the funeral which was much better attended than we anticipated. P.'s music worked well and his older brother's eulogy was very good. His older sister and her husband's poems were also very moving. We retired from the funeral to a pub in Kangaroo Point where everyone got plastered.

On Saturday, the five siblings had a family meeting to discuss the will and associated 'issues' and I headed back to Melbourne in the evening for my seminar on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the Jetstar flight scheduled for 7.55pm arrived from Melbourne late, due to an 'unserviceable' plane in Melbourne (due either to poor maintenance or poor checking). By the time it got to Brisbane, the storm was raging. When there is lightning, nothing can happen on the tarmac, so the hapless Melbourne passengers had to wait in the airplane for two hours. There was an 'incident' and police were called. The weather abated a bit, the passengers were disgorged and we were loaded on to return to Melbourne at 11.30pm. THEN the airbridge wouldn't function and it took three-quarters of an hour to get an engineer to fix it. We finally took off from Brisbane and arrived in Melbourne at 3.25 and I got home at 4.10am.

I had to get up in time to get into the city at 11.30 for a Writers' Centre seminar with Andrea Goldsmith on manuscript overhaul. In spite of feeling a bit ragged, it seemed to go well, and I got home where P. arrived after a small delay in Brisbane, thanks to my father picking him up from the airport.

Moving right along, P. had a presentation at work on Monday morning, which I attended, for his 30 years in the Tax Office. It was quite pleasant with lamingtons and TimTams, cheese and dips. Then in the evening I went to the retirement farewell for Peter Field, ex MD of Penguin Books Australia. We have had our differences but I was pleased to see some old friends. As P.Field said, it was a bit like a funeral, and, indeed, like a funeral, people mainly said nice things. By now, a bit weary, I must sleep and actually do some productive work tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vale Joan

P.'s mum, Joan, died on Friday night after a week in hospital following a stroke. She was 92. The family gathered in Brisbane. There will be a funeral sometime this week.

P. came back to Melbourne on Saturday and (somewhat to recover) joined Lorraine and I at the Emmy-Lou Harris concert. They believe it is the fourth that they have been to. Emmy-Lou said, 'We've come a long, long way for this concert so we're gonna play for a long time.' They did, for almost two hours of very varied music, instruments and pace. We had quite good seats so got an eyeful and earful of the hardworking Harris, who gave the band a rest for a solo, but didn't take any time off herself. Her valedictory song to the dead Kate McGarrigle was very moving and a good epitaph for Joan.

On Sunday, we did normal shopping (but not on Saturday), then had a splendid brunch at Marmalade and Soul in Fitzroy. We tried to visit Noel but his entire ward were sleeping like babies so we retreated. Now P. is making fish for dinner. Back to work tomorrow.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Cup Day and after

On Cup Day, P. got a message that his mother was very ill so after a day's phoning to all his siblings (all four of them), he headed for Brisbane on Wednesday. Needless to say, this was very distressing.

I went (somewhat to recover) with Sal and Frank to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum on Wednesday night. I probably would have enjoyed it more without the emotional background, but it was a very good production. Geoffrey Rush was a tour-de-force as the main character as one would expect (but like Teddy Tahu Rhodes in South Pacific, why do they do it?). It was especially good to see Bob Hornery in a minor role milk it for all it was worth.

Now just working (there's lots of it) and had a briefing with Andrea G. for the seminar on the 18th (not the APA one, a Writers' Centre one). It was also good to catch up with her. She is a font of great wisdom.

Frank is coming for tea tonight to eat up some of the excess food.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bang on a Can All-Stars

Last night, P. and I went to the Recital Centre for a free performance by the Bang on a Can All-Stars in their 'Field Recordings' program. It consisted of pieces by nine composers based on field recordings of sound, video or both and was very absorbing. A couple of pieces were about one or two minutes too long, but that is a small complaint. The instruments were cello, bass, piano, percussion, electric guitar and clarinet, all played very well. We were introduced to them via a Seventh Blackbird CD which they shared.

Beforehand, we had another very good dinner at My Mexican Cousin next door. We shared a raw tunafish cocktail to start, then P. had duck and I had a splendid prosciutto and gorgonzola salad, washed down with a German riesling. Very satisfying.

A quiet Cup Day is in progress. Morris L. visited for a coffee and we swapped New York stories. P. is now baking a cheesecake. Not much work is getting done.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Busy weekend

We did normal shopping at the mall (Victoria Gardens) followed by brunch at Bayte in Johnston Street, opposite the old Collingwood Tech. soon to be Circus Oz headquarters which will add to the revivification of the area. The Neighbourhood Justice Centre is just around the corner and staff from there are already patronising Bayte.

I checked out the state of the Keith Haring mural on the old Tech. It is temporarily covered during the construction work and will have some restoration work. I am reading Haring's diaries at present to see whether there is any indication of what he wanted for the fate of his murals. So far there is no sign of a preference between letting them vanish or preserving them.

Bayte has Lebanese-inspired dishes. My eggs for brunch were poached then smothered with zatar, accompanied by flat bread, smokey 'rustic' humus and delicious kibbe. P. and Frank's offerings looked equally good. We must return to try their main course dishes which look very tasty.

In the evening, we were joined by Michael H. for a splendid ANAM concert of baroque music led by violinist Paul Wright and cellist Howard Penny. They were joined by soprano Sara MacIver who sang splendidly in baroque works by Lully, Moffat, Biber and Purcell. During the week preceding the ANAM students had workshops on baroque movement which Penny claimed helped them with the rhythm and bowing of the baroque music. They certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves and produced enthusiastic music.

On Sunday, after the crossword, we went to see Noel T., now in rehab. in Kew where he'll be for about a fortnight. As well, we went back to Victoria Gardens to get P.'s glasses fixed.

We finished the day with a flathead dinner cooked by P. Delicious! with spuds, peas and baked fennel. Now back to work and there's plenty of it.