Peter McCallum needs to get out more... or stay home more. I’m not sure.
The review, for the Sydney Morning Herald, opens thus:
“First I need to be honest and say that I found Peter Goldsworthy and Richard Mills’s Batavia the vilest thing I have experienced in the theatre...”Mr McCalum goes on to say that he felt that he was in the thrall of “people with megalomaniacal visions” who were not going to release him until he had experienced their grand narrative:
“so that one felt raped by the volume, alienated by the lack of sensitivity or aptness in the musical symbols, and repelled by the unctuous sermonising.”It certainly makes Alison Croggon’s response to the first act [the link to the sixth comment doesn't seem to be working... Alison writes “I was dragged out of the opera Batavia at interval by my embarrassed husband because I was standing up and booing”] seem positively restrained.
Mmm, maybe not!
Contrast McCallum’s review with that of David Gyger’s, in Opera Opera, after the premiere season in 2001:
“With Batavia, Richard Mills consolidates his claim to be considered Australia’s most promising composer of opera at the dawn of the new millennium.”Me? I reckon Mills should go back to something more homey. I quite liked his singspiel version of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, which Richard Wherrett directed for the Victoria State Opera in October 1996, when the VSO was in its death throes. (Well, it was knocked-up and invites to the shotgun wedding with the Australian Opera had been roneod.)
Which reminds me: check out the company logo in Dan Potra’s set for Batavia... Curious coincidence, of course, that the brand new Victorian Opera company should have a VO5-style logo of Victorian primness... not unlike this one:
A couple more things for trivia lovers -- and Trivia was a goddess who could see in three directions -- when The Doll was on in The Playhouse, Batavia’s champion Simone Young was conducting Die Frau ohne Schatten in the adjacent State Theatre. (The Covent Garden production with sets by David Hockney.)
Incidentally, Lindy Hume -- who went on to direct Batavia -- was the short-lived artistic director of the VSO. She was appointed just days before the company was scuttled.
Yeah, right. You needed to know all that.
My review of the Melbourne premiere is posted here.