Saturday 2 July 2011


“Older, we must move, and stay, and move again, to keep our life-giving ties alive, for this movement is our fountain of age. And there's a freedom in realizing this, a new freedom to move or stay, new necessities and possibilities of choice.” - Betty Friedan

It was a busy Saturday today with many things that got done around the house, as well as a visit to our friend in the nursing home. She was very glad to see us and to give her a treat we took her out to lunch. She enjoyed that very much and during our meal she had some flashes of insight and surprised us with a few comments that revealed her past acuity of mind. However, at the same time it was sad to see her obvious decline and mostly witness her increasingly dementing state.

The nursing home itself was big and bright and clean with many staff around. However, there was not one happy face that we saw amongst its residents. One could see despair, sadness anger, forbearance, resignation or typically apathy drawn on the faces of the discarded elderly. Passing through the main lounge area, there was a collection of old people sitting and doing nothing except staring vacantly ahead. The television playing annoyingly and irrelevantly hardly registered on their minds and the highlight of the day for many of them would be a meal, perhaps. We were the only visitors there and as we took our friend out there were some glances of envy, not a single smile.

As if to redress the slightly bitter taste left in our mouth with the nursing home visit, we went out to dinner tonight, eating Chinese again at the Crown Casino restaurant, “Silks”. The food and service was good, but a little overpriced for what one receives. Nevertheless it was a good night out and it was surprising to see how many people were out and about in the City, the Casino and all the restaurants, cafés and bars.

For Music Saturday, here is Jascha Heifetz playing a “Melodie” from “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Christoph Willibald von Gluck (transcribed by Heifetz). The accompanist is Emanuel Bay.

Thursday 30 June 2011


“It won’t do to dream of caramel, to think of cinnamon, and long for you…” – Suzanne Vega

I had a very busy day at work today with not a spare moment to even sit down and think. Meetings, people coming to see me, preparation of submissions, going to an external seminar, sending off regulatory documentation, budget matters and then finally in the late afternoon a goodbye function for one of our long-serving staff members who is retiring. When I got home I was pooped…

Although we have been having some beautiful fine and sunny days, as soon as evening falls, the temperature drops quite considerably and a dark night soon follows. This is the best time in winter for coming into a warm house and having a hot dinner with a rich and gooey dessert!

Apple Caramel Cake

Ingredients - cake
•    1 and 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
•    2/3 cup vegetable oil
•    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
•    3 medium eggs
•    1/3 cup milk
•    2 cups flour
•    1 tablespoon baking powder
•    2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

Ingredients - Caramel Topping
•    2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
•    1/3 cup butter
•    1/3 cup heavy cream
•    1 teaspoon vanilla essence


  • In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Mix in the milk, flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring just until blended.
  • Stir in apples.
  • Pour apple cake batter into a greased 25 cm square pan.
  • Bake at 175°C until cake springs back when touched lightly in the centre (about 30 to 40 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, butter, and cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer; continue cooking and stirring for 6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • With a fork, pierce cake all over. Pour hot caramel topping over the hot cake.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of clotted cream.


“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” - Hans Nouwens

The internet has revolutionised our life in all sorts of ways. Communication, entertainment, education, publishing, networking, commerce, business, etc, etc, etc. However, the internet is also a major way that we socialise and meet potential partners. The virtual environment is conducive to rapid exchanges of intimate details and many people utilise the electronic medium to find their “perfect” match. Numerous “matchmaker” sites exist and they range from the casual “clip-joint” type of site where one-night stands are arranged to the genuine relationship-building sites where the object is a match that leads to marriage or other long-term arrangements.

Matchmaking of course is nothing new and in many traditional societies quite a large number of marriages are the result of the efforts of specialist matchmakers. It is perhaps not surprising that most of these marriages are very successful and last a lifetime long. An astute matchmaker seeks individuals who are well-suited, socially, physically and intellectually, and who share similar values and can communicate effectively with one another. Love is given every opportunity to flourish in such matches. The specialist skills of the matchmaker who gets to know a very large number of available singles and does a “best-match” exercise can be a very effective way of building a successful and long-lasting relationship.

The ease with which we communicate through the internet and the large variety of online forums that make meeting your “perfect” match more likely explain the popularity of this medium when one is searching for a mate. The electronic medium can provide a “safe” environment for frank discussions where people may exchange candid disclosures about all sorts of things: Politics, religion, sex, prejudices, music, books, sports, hobbies, etc. One may then find a partner with whom one shares much and can communicate with on a non-physical level.

The problem in many cases is that with the reduction of the world into a global village through the wonders of the world-wide-web, one’s perfect match may live in Outer Mongolia or the permafrost of Lapland, while one is happily ensconced in the tropical paradise of Vanuatu. The dilemma then is, where to go with this budding relationship? Long distance love affairs do not last the distance, but a new survey has shown that Australians are not daunted by geographical separation. This is of course nothing new in this vast land of ours, which is so far away from the rest of the world!

A survey of 120,000 Australian singles showed that about a quarter of respondents would have no qualms in packing up and moving to a new location in order to find love. Moving interstate or even overseas was not unreasonable for 27% of people asked, and 54% said that they would relocate if the person they were to join was the “right” one. Those who had never been married before were more likely to move than those who had married before and single men were more willing to move than single women to join their soul mate. In Australia, Northern Territorians were the ones most likely to move so as to be with their love, while on the other side of the coin, South Australians were the most loathe to do so. The survey also compared Australians to a similar survey done in the US and it found that Australians are 12% more likely to move for love than Americans!

Internet romances need caution and often people are disappointed, but I am also aware of some very successful matches made on the net. Distance can be a problem but the course of true love never ran smooth. It seems that if the chemistry is right, distance is no object for the determined couple…

LDR noun, abbrev.
Long-Distance Relationship: An intimate relationship that takes place when the partners are separated by a considerable distance. In 2005, according to The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, an estimated 2.9% of US marriages were considered long-distance, with 1 in 10 marriages reported to have included a period at long distance within the first 3 years. This means that in 2005 approximately 3.5 million people in the US alone were involved in long-distance marriages.

Wednesday 29 June 2011


“The problem with getting older is you still remember how things used to be.” - Paul Newman

A family friend of ours was admitted into a nursing home this week. She is in her eighties and although she lived alone up till now, her increasing signs of dementia and inability to look after herself forced her family to decide that she would be better off living in a 24-hour care environment. She had done her utmost until now to conceal her memory loss and confusion. Her stratagems were ingenious to say the least, but her increasingly bizarre behaviour and her inability to cope with everyday tasks, the simplest chores and routine forced her to finally break down and admit that things were not at all normal.

It is a sad situation and it was painful to watch this woman that we knew well and liked, going through such a terrible ordeal and realise that her mind has been gradually deteriorating. We had to concede that over time, her normally alert bright eyes became increasingly dull and vacant and that her smile was a rarer and rarer occurrence. Her amusing and wry comments, engaging conversation and keen sense of humour gradually disappeared; firstly into confusion, then into outlandish incongruousness, then incoherence and now what lies ahead is complete apathy.

The loss of one’s mind is a loss of identity. Dementia robs the person of their selfhood, their perception of who they are and what makes themselves as individuals. The loss of higher mentation dehumanises and makes of the person a thing. How can one cope with this loss of self as one perceives it disappearing? How can the people who love that person cope with that living death?

My Foggy Brain

The fog creeps and covers the landscape
In a pall of gray – like a winding sheet
Around a corpse recently dead.
My mind dulls, and ashen woolly thoughts
Flit in and out of my consciousness; now like butterflies,
Now like strange visitors, intruders in one’s house.

The wintry mist obscures and blunts perception,
The cold numbs me and the wetness seeps in,
Drenching my clothes, chilling me to the marrow.
Sunlit memories of childhood are vivid, with scents, aromas,
The woody, resinous smell of newly sharpened pencils
On the first day of school… Last week, wasn’t it?

The twilight yields its realm quickly to night
And as darkness falls, I am disoriented, yet strangely alert,
Feeling like a nocturnal creature: I must go out, go there!
The days all merge into one and no matter how hard I try
I cannot remember what I had for lunch, if did have anything,
Where I was five minutes ago, or who the person I talked to was.

In darkness I wander, searching for some unknown goal,
My random peregrinations having some higher purpose
That I cannot divine; yet its all-important gravity, overwhelming.
I see my wedding day clearly, attended by my adult children,
I hear old familiar songs, sounding new and fresh;
And who is this strange child calling me “Grandma”?

Summer falls heavily this year and freezes everything it touches.
Snow falls and merges with the white hair of the old woman
Staring at me reflected in some shop window, waving to me as I wave to her.
Who is this person who apes my every move? Where am I?
I wore a pink chiffon dress yesterday at my birthday party, I turned seven…
I was so happy…Why is this old woman staring at me crying?

Monday 27 June 2011


“Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.” - Susan Sontag

Yesterday we had a near miss with an asteroid that came dangerously close to the earth. The name of the object is 2011 MD and fortunately it flew by harmlessly but at the terribly close distance of only 12,000 kilometres (a hair’s breadth in astronomical terms!), which is 32 times closer than the moon, and closer than geosynchronous satellites. Astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere were able to spot the asteroid with fairly modest telescopes as a fast moving bright spot. Though this celestial object came close, it is not a distance record holder. Earlier this year, a tiny asteroid flew by even closer - within 5,500 kilometres of the earth’s surface.

Asteroid 2011 MD is 10 metres long and was discovered last week by telescopes in New Mexico. Scientists say asteroids this size sail past Earth every six years. If 2011 MD did hit us, then it would more than likely break up in the atmosphere and give us an amazing display of fireballs and meteors. Quite a light show! It is unlikely that an object as small as this would cause grave effects. However, asteroids larger than 25-30 metres are more likely to impact the ground and have more serious consequences (depending also on where the impact occurs – an asteroid impacting in Paris will have different effects to one hitting the middle of the Pacific Ocean).

There are about 8,100 Near-Earth Objects (NEO) that have been discovered and about 827 of them are asteroids with a diameter of approximately 1 km or larger. About 1,236 of these NEOs have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). NASA currently plans to launch a probe to visit one of these PHAs and return samples of the asteroid to Earth. That mission will launch the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid probe in 2016 to rendezvous with the space rock 1999 RQ36 in 2020. The target asteroid is 580 metres wide and has a 1-in-1,800 chance of hitting Earth in the year 2170, and a 1-in-1,000 chance of slamming into us in 2182.

2011 MD was part of a group of Earth approaching asteroids called “Apollo Class”, which regularly crosses the orbit of the Earth and thus has a slight but noticeable chance of striking Earth. Not every asteroid approaching Earth is quite as benign as 2011 MD has proven to be. About two years ago, asteroid 2009 DD45 which was 61 metres long, approached us and had it struck Earth, it would have been with the force of a nuclear blast, similar to the presumed object that fell on Siberia in 1908, causing an air burst in the multimegaton range, flattening 25 square kilometres of forest. One of the largest Apollo asteroids, named Geographos, was discovered in 1951. Geographos is several kilometres in diameter. A strike on Earth by an asteroid the size of Geographos would be an extinction level event on the scale of the object that destroyed the dinosaurs. Looking at the near future, we still have the threat of asteroid Apophis to deal with, which is looming ever closer, a possible impact occurring on April 13, 2036.

In Egyptian myth, Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness. This seemed to astronomers a fitting name for the asteroid hurtling towards Earth from outer space. Apophis is 350 metres long and was discovered in 2004. Scientists are ever since monitoring its progress and have discovered that this asteroid is on a potential collision course with our planet.

NASA estimates that if Apophis impacts earth, it would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima. Thousands of square kilometres would be directly affected by the blast but the whole of the Earth would see the effects of the dust released into the atmosphere. Astronomers are imploring governments to decide on a strategy for dealing with this event, in a case of reality imitating art – the art in this case being science fiction movies!

If you have seen the 1998 film “Armageddon” you will be familiar with the possible effects of asteroids impacting the earth. The film looks at the possibility of destroying the asteroid in space before it has the chance of hitting the earth. Another 1998 film “Deep Impact” also looked at the possibility of an impact with a comet.

Scientists initially put the risk of impact of Apophis at 1 in 233, which is almost a certainty in cosmological terms. Subsequent studies upgraded the probability to 1 in 43. However, refined studies, more accurate measurements and some serious number crunching led to a downgrading. As of October 7, 2009, the odds of an April 13, 2036 impact have been reduced to about 1 in 250,000. So you can sleep soundly tonight!


“We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.” - George Eliot

Occasionally when scraping the bottom of the “specials” basket at the DVD shop one may find a film that one will get, albeit one that one would never have considered getting at full price. Such was the case with a movie that we saw at the weekend. The only reason we got it was because of sentimental value… We used to own Chihuahuas and they were both beautiful dogs with a wonderful temperament. Hence seeing a movie with two chihuahuas on its cover brought back memories and we got it to watch. It was Raja Gosnell’s 2008 “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”,  produced by the Disney studios. As such, one could immediately tell this was produced for the children/family market and one’s expectations are immediately toned down somewhat.

It is interesting how many children’s picture books, novels, films and TV series are being made in recent years. It seems that ever more and more are being produced and there is quite a vast array of very ordinary stuff out there. However, the market niche is a lucrative one and it always amazes me to see young children or even babies in the back of four-wheel drive cars, with eyes transfixed to the TV monitor, watching on DVD some children’s show or another. No matter how short the trip the DVD is an easy solution for keeping kids occupied and quiet. Needless to say that at home the TV and DVD player are always on the go and kids tend to spend more and more time exposed to this form of entertainment. Very much unlike my childhood where TV was always live and strictly rationed – a privilege not a right.

The worst offenders nowadays are the inane animated series that take silly ideas and elevate them to the heights of absurdity. For example, karate-practicing (and suitably dressed) dinosaurs that fight on the side of good trying to overcome the forces of evil as exemplified by sabre-wielding alien bird-like predators in space suits, or some such bilge. The premise is outlandish, the plots repetitive and mind-rotting, and the whole quality of production low and nasty. These types of shows are produced on conveyor-belt types of establishments and are preparing the young viewers for the adult brainless equivalent, the daily soap opera.

One thing about Disney movies in the past was the relatively high standard of production, the use of classic stories and fairy tales as the starting point and the strong “messages” or “morals” that they had embedded within them. These features aligned themselves with most of the classic children’s literature in this respect, where the object of the story was to not only entertain, but to also play a role in shaping young minds so that they were edified and cultivated in some positive way. In recent times, more and more children’s literature and films are produced mainly for entertainment and may in fact have quite a opposite effect to educating or raising the moral, spiritual, and intellectual level of their audiences. Perhaps this is considered old fashioned now, and to actually have such a goal may be looked upon with impatience, cynicism and disapproval.

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” is one of the latest breed of Disney films (pardon the pun!). This is not based on any classic story or fairy tale and it is a live action film not an animated feature. It does grant dogs anthropomorphic characteristics and they do talk to one another as people do, sharing in this respect elements with similar works in children’s literature: “The Wind in the Willows”, “Aesop’s Fables” and “Winnie the Pooh” for instance. One can see that the prime purpose of this film is entertainment (and entertainment of children mainly), however, it does retain that underlying morality mentality, and it is a vehicle for edification. The plot revolves around Chloe, the Beverly Hills Chihuahua of the title, who is a spoilt, pampered pooch complete with designer clothes, expensive jewellery, and a lifestyle to equal that of rich and famous humans. Her owner, Vivian, leaves on a business trip and her niece, Rachel, is left to dog-sit Chloe. Rachel is a party girl and decides to join with her two friends to go to Mexico, for a vacation. Chloe wanders off, is dognapped and finds herself in an illegal dog-fighting establishment. She is rescued by Delgado, an Alsatian who will help her get back to Beverly Hills. The man who runs the dogfights finds out that Chloe is worth a kingly ransom and he sends his Doberman, Diablo, after her. Rachel, and Vivian’s Mexican landscaper, Sam, and his chihuhua, Papi who is in love with Chloe, are on the hunt to find her and get her home safe and sound.

The plot is thin and the moral lessons are delivered with a sledge hammer, however, one should constantly remind oneself that this is a movie aimed at young children and primarily made for entertainment. Along the way, some important messages are given, more or less effectively, generally not very subtly, but at the same time in a comic manner making the moral pill easier to swallow perhaps. Rachel’s prejudice against the Mexican “gardener” is an example that is held up for ridicule. Chloe’s pampered lifestyle contrasted with the homeless street dogs is a warning against the loss of one’s true value systems when one is endowed with riches. Chloe’s return to her “national” and “racial” roots in Chihuahua, Mexico where she meets a colony of proud Chihuahua warrior dogs and learns to bark, is a lesson in the virtue of never forgetting your roots and being proud of your heritage. It all has a happy end of course and everyone gets their just desserts.

It is a fun movie for young children and the parents may enjoy watching along with their offspring, while doing a cryptic crossword perhaps. We enjoyed the Mexican settings, which were picture postcard perfect and idealised – well-suited to a fantasy world as portrayed in the film and any dog-loving person will adore the pooches, even spoilt Chloe. True to formula, the dog voices are provided by some well-known actors including the likes of Drew Barrymore (Chloe), Andy Garcia (Delgado), Plácido Domingo (Monte), George Lopez (Papi). The music score by Heitor Pereira is unobtrusive and appropriate while the direction is conventional and unobjectionable. A sequel was made based on the success of this movie (cost $20 million, $94.5 million gross February 2009 in the USA).

Sunday 26 June 2011


“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.” - Maria Callas

It is said that Opera is the queen of arts as it combines so many different types of artistic expression to create a unified whole that is seen in the performance on stage. When you think about it, there is music (both its composition and performance), singing, dancing, acting, stage design, costumes, lighting, special effects – to mention a few of these creative forces at work. It is an art form that is highly stylised and admits no middle ground, you either love it or you detest it. Its followers can get as passionate about it as a football fan is about his team and players. Its detractors cannot understand what all the fuss is about and what all that caterwauling on stage is meant to be.

Opera appeals to me as it is a magical mirror of life and its vicissitudes. The way that it presents our common experiences and shared emotions, feelings, and the way that we all react to certain situations can prove to be a powerful insight into our innermost being. And of course the music makes it all so much more immediate and can strip naked our emotional reserve and make us very vulnerable to the stimuli that reach us in that darkened auditorium. The setting draws us in and the highly artificial environment of the stage acts as a lens to focus emotions quite sharply and make us participate in the drama taking place. How easy it is to then find parallels with our own life and experiences…

Of course even the most ardent opera fan has some favourite operas and some that are not all that sympathetic to one’s sensibilities. I particularly dislike Puccini’s “La Bohème” but I like his “Madam Butterfly”. “Carmen” and the “Pearl Fishers” of Bizet are perennial favourites of mine, as are most Verdi operas, with (perhaps surprisingly) the exception of “Aida”. The aria “Celeste Aida” grates on my nerves so much! Mozart’s operas are wonderful as are Rossini’s. “Norma” of Bellini and “Don Pasquale” of Donizetti I like, but Wagner’s music dramas are not my cup of tea. Gluck’s reformed classical style is appealing and his masterpiece “Orfeo e Euridice” strikes a chord with me.

Most baroque operas are firm favourites, with Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” and “L’ Incoronazione di Poppea” ranking very highly. Handel’s operas are wonderful, as are those of Purcell, including the marvellous “Dido and Aeneas”. Rameau’s “Les Indes Gallantes” is a firm favourite, as are some of Cavalli’s operas, for example, “La Callisto”.

Yesterday we went to see one of our favourite operas, “Faust” by Charles Gounod. It was staged by the Melbourne Opera Company in the Athenaeum Theatre. “Faust” is one of the most popular operas in the repertoire and it is perhaps easy to divine the reason. The music is absolutely delicious and there are many well-known arias and choruses, including Marguerite’s famous “Jewel Song” and “The King of Thule”, Mephistopheles’ “Golden Calf” and “Serenade”, Faust’s “Salut demeure” and Valentin’s “Even Bravest Hearts may swell”. The “Soldiers’ Chorus” and the famous Waltz are recognisable tunes by even the non-opera buff person in the street.

“Faust” is adapted from Goethe’s magnum opus of the same name, the story of which he took from German folk tales and various historical tidbits. Both play and opera tell the story of Dr Faust’s pact with the Devil to regain his lost youth in order to experience love and pleasure – things he did not sample while engaged in his “serious” life work on philosophy. The object of his love is the innocent Marguerite, who falls in love with him deeply and purely. A prime character in the work is Mephistopheles, a personification of the Devil, who aids Faust to win the heart and affections of Marguerite. The debauched girl is destroyed by her affair with Faust, who not only abandons her once she is with child, but who also kills her brother. Faust is damned, but Marguerite achieves ultimate salvation.

It is a powerful story and although Gounod has sets it in the conventional manner of a 19th century French composer, the emotional power of the music is quite amazing and its popularity since its first performance attests to the genius of the composer. The full opera (with obligatory Act V ballet) is rarely performed nowadays, perhaps a pity as the ballet contains some gorgeous music and is a showpiece for some phantasmagorical stagecraft. Acts IV and V were conflated in the production that we saw, with what some opera purists may say is a result of tighter dramatic punch and no balletic distractions.

Melbourne Opera Company Ltd was founded in 2002 as a non-profit public arts company dedicated to producing opera and associated art forms at realistic prices. It is a company committed to the development of young artists, regional touring, and having dealings characterised by openness and transparency. The Board is elected annually by the financial membership, which is open to all. Repertoire and casting decisions are taken by an arms-length artistic subcommittee. Melbourne Opera is now second only to the national company as the most active opera company in the country (Australian Opera being the foremost, obviously). This result has been achieved relying mainly upon philanthropic support.

Melbourne Opera Company believe that open competition between opera companies is healthy, providing opportunities for future excellence and greater choice for audiences. In contrast, Berlin, a city smaller than Melbourne, has three major companies as well as a number of smaller houses. Melbourne Opera is active in broadly promoting the art of opera, and works to co-ordinate seasons and subscriptions between all Melbourne opera managements.

The production of “Faust” that we saw yesterday was quite good, although there were some weak areas, understandable perhaps as there were many substitute singers rather than the full original cast. Michael Lapina as Faust did a fairly good job in the male lead role, although on a couple of occasions his notes were shaky. Yang Liu as Valentin was perhaps the weakest of the singers, his notes not hitting true on more than a couple of occasions. Top honours go to Lee Abrahmsen as Marguerite who shone in this demanding role not only with her beautiful singing but also with her impressive stage presence and good acting. An excellent Mephistopheles was sung and acted with gusto by Eddie Muliaumaseali’i whose sonorous bass was satisfying musically and provided a firm anchoring point for many a scene.

Considering the chorus comprises mainly an amateur force, they did a good job of the demanding and powerful choral pieces that form a showcase for this opera. The famous waltz provided an opportunity for a pretty mini ballet around a maypole (a little clunky here and there), while the soldiers’ chorus was perhaps a little understated. Greg Hocking conducted very well and managed to evince a good orchestral sound from his instrumental team that were crowded together in the small orchestra pit. For a group that doesn’t play together often, this orchestra managed to produce a cohesive and professional sound for this difficult, magnificent score. A hooded organist in one of the side-stage boxes and the celestial chorus from upper circle were appreciated by the audience in a theatre that provided good acoustics in a rather intimate way.

The stage settings and lighting were a little disappointing, but one must remember that the Athenaeum is a small theatre and the opera company is a small one. However, a few touches of imagination would have made the settings so much better. Costumes were for the most part good although a few here and there were disappointing (Bacchus’ body suit was lamentable).

Overall we enjoyed ourselves and it is great to see our own Opera company tackling such an epic work in a spirited and courageous manner. True to its mission statement, this company provided a very good quality entertainment at an affordable price. Melbourne is the artistic capital of Australia and stage musicals, opera and plays are always in demand by a discriminating and refined audience. Melbourne Opera’s success in this city is testimony to its talented and committed personnel and artists.