Friday, July 31, 2009


Radio New Zealand Concert network
Friday 31st of July 2009 at 8 - 1o.35

The Trial of the Cannibal Dog

An opera by MATTHEW SUTTOR following the voyages of Captain Cook, taking in the cultures of the Pacific and building to the brutal climax of Cook’s ultimate demise. With a libretto by John Downie

The opera is preceded by the composer talking to Christine Argyle about the work’s genesis
Captain Cook............... Andrew Collis
Chief............................. Phillip Rhodes
Tahitian Queen.............. Deborah Wai Kapohe
Elizabeth Cook.............. Janet Roddick
orchestral accompaniment/Peter Scholes (première performance)
(recorded in the Wellington Opera House by RNZ)

PREVIEW (LISTENER Dog's Truth, Rachel Morris)
(LISTENER A Dog's Breakfast, Rod Biss)
REVIEW (HERALD Cannibal Dog indeed a trial, William Dart)
PROFILE (Deborah Wai on YouTube)

Well, the barking mad dog comes back to bite us again; previously it left a lot of people foaming at the mouth. Anne Salmond's historical Cook book was dished up as a minimalist opera in March 2008 for its première performance, and possibly its derrière outing, judging by the reaction of the critics: Rod took a bite out of it [German Biss 'bite'] and William [whose ears can appreciate many kinds of noise dubiously labeled as music] hurled his darts at it.

At the time I listened with great interest to the interview with Australian Andrew Collis (playing James Cook), a namesake of mine from Oz (but we Collesses are the convict lot with the unique spelling).

On a rare trip to see family in Australia I heard Deborah Wai Kapohe on the radio there, and they talk as if they own her; she speaks about her preparation for the role on You Tube.

Phillip Rhodes we know as one of our home-grown winners.

Janet Roddick is a voice who seduced me when she was an announcer on that same RadioNZ concert network; I loved her when she said (quite out of the blue and probably breaking the hidebound rules of national broadcasting) she had been to that wonderful performance of Wagner's Rheingold in Wellington, and that she was going again; William Dart devoted one of his radio programs to her, but she is not an opera singer.

I listened to this opera first-time round, wondering what was going on, without the pictures. At the top of the Listener articles you can see Collis with dog-eyes, canine nose, and hound-ears; and the NZ Herald will let you see Deborah in her costume.

The original account is still a closed book to me, I am sorry to say; but I still have not finished Beaglehole's seven-hundred-page tome (which I purchased in 1974 at the true Bennets book shop, from a salesman named Bruce McKenzie); but my dear mother, from the port of Kingston-on-Hull in Yorkshire, whose father had been a sea-faring fisherman, devoured it completely when she came over from Sydney to visit us.

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