The Weekend Australian - Review - - Feature - Tim Dou­glas

When Jonas Kauf­mann per­formed the grand fi­nale two years ago at Last Night of the Proms, things threat­ened to get out of hand. As the Ger­man tenor was belt­ing out Rule Bri­tan­nia, an El Nino-grade storm of fe­male un­der­gar­ments be­gan to rain down on Lon­don’s Royal Al­bert Hall stage. With a tiny black G-string in one hand and a pair of white knick­ers in the other, the man many call the world’s great­est tenor took his cur­tain call beam­ing like a naughty school­boy. It’s un­likely those scenes will be repli­cated (though one never knows) when the singer ap­pears next week in Opera Aus­tralia’s con­cert per­for­mances of Wag­ner’s knights-and­grail epic Par­si­fal. Amid a global cri­sis for opera com­pa­nies, the 48-year-old Kauf­mann is him­self some­thing of a holy grail: tal­ented, charis­matic, hand­some. Yet re­cently he has be­come known for his run of bad luck. Cit­ing ill­ness, last year he with­drew from the Met’s Manon Lescaut; he re­cently canned per­for­mances across Europe; and in March he pulled out of the Met’s high-pro­file up­com­ing pro­duc­tion of Tosca. OA artis­tic di­rec­tor Lyn­don Ter­racini may want to have the Strep­sils on standby when the tenor per­forms op­po­site Kwangchul Youn and Michelle DeYoung in the con­cert se­ries con­ducted by Pin­chas Stein­berg on Wed­nes­day, Satur­day and Mon­day week. When I was a whip­per­snap­per, my dad built a tree­house in the back yard. On re­flec­tion, it was less a tree­house and more a mil­i­tary-grade fort, a free­stand­ing mono­lith ren­dered in lengths of dis­carded deck­ing and that clas­sic strain of treated pine that even­tu­ally would turn green with leached ar­senic. It was two storeys high, and a place of great won­der and greater splin­ters. For my own chil­dren, my tree­house­build­ing skills ex­tend to hav­ing stuck a bro­ken lad­der in a lilly pilly. I con­sole my­self with the fact each night at least one of my wee bairns will be nose deep in the branch-borne world of Andy Grif­fiths and Terry Den­ton. The 13-Storey Tree­house and its seem­ingly end­less it­er­a­tions (the se­ries is up to 91 storeys) is a sta­ple of kids’ book­shelves around the globe. To­day, lit­er­ary edi­tor Stephen Romei sits down with Grif­fiths and Den­ton, the world’s most unas­sum­ing pub­lish­ing su­per­stars (pages 8 and 9). It’s a rol­lick­ing read. Don’t miss it. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Re­view Hot 10 alum­nus Trent O’Don­nell, whose hit Stan com­edy No Ac­tiv­ity has been picked up by CBS in the US. Com­edy su­per­star Will Fer­rell will re­make the pro­gram for an eight-episode se­ries to screen next year. O’Don­nell’s star just keeps ris­ing.

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