These blogposts are all focused on the arts and creativity more generally. Some are new, some appeared previously among the 600+ posts written between 2009 and 2014, while others were first published elsewhere.
Bewitching: Frances Alda, the once forgotten rival of Nellie Melba
Whilst Melba is well known to Australians, one of the nation’s icons, Alda has been substantially forgotten. Yet she was one of the world’s greatest sopranos, sufficiently outstanding to have been blocked early in her career by Dame Nellie.
Phoebus Apollo driving the Horses of the Sun
Waking in Australia, first light streaming through the window, or better still noticing dawn creeping over the horizon from the inside of the early morning flight over the mountains towards Botany Bay, one is immediately conscious of Australia’s prime deity. As Kathy Lette pithily says: ‘I’m Australian, so sun worship is my only religion.’
Empress Elisabeth of Austria goes hunting at Astrop
I’ve recently been doing some work on the decline and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and on the rise of opera in Naples, and it all jogged my memory of the day that the Empress Elisabeth of Austria went hunting at Astrop in South Northamptonshire in 1876.
My Life In Art
I grew up in a house in the English Midlands with few pictures on the walls, but nothing I recognised as ‘art’, and it was only when I took a job in advertising in London in the mid-1960s that I decided to explore that world. So, on my way to and from work, I dropped into the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square each day and looked at three paintings – yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s. Gradually I got around all that was there, but over time I realised that I was constantly being drawn back to this extraordinary Nativity by Piero della Francesca – so old, yet so modern.