Barry Humphries with Meow Meow

05 May 2013-06 May 2013,

Book Early,

Classical,

Concerts,

Melbourne,

Music

Critics' choice

The man behind Dame Edna on his love for all things German cabaret...

This event has finished

Whenever the Australian Chamber Orchestra gives Barry Humphries the chance to curate a programme he picks some of the most obscure and outrageous repertoire ever performed in an Australian concert hall – witness his concert with the ACO in May. Why the fascination with the louche cabaret songs of 1920s Germany? Clues appear in his second autobiography, My Life as Me (2002). A precocious teenager in 1950, Humphries would raid the second-hand record shops of Melbourne for little-known treasures by Kurt Weil and Friedrich Holländer, then play them on the family gramophone late at night. Like the parents of many bedroom DJs today, his mother opposed the majority of his vinyl collection: "Barry, must you listen to so much Continental music? It wasn't so very long ago that we were at war with these people." When Time Out phoned Humphries in Switzerland recently and asked how he would justify his adoration of the largely forgotten music of the Weimar Republic to his mother today, he replied simply: "I would take her to this concert."

Humphries clearly intends to both delight and shock his audience. In addition to his role of conférencier (the title then given to cabaret MCs, respected and sometimes reviled for their political and social commentary) Humphries will join cabaret artist Meow Meow for an "extremely infectious" laughing song. Another work never before performed in an Australian concert hall will be a precisely scripted faked orgasm [see boxout], for which Humphries invites audience participation. Meow Meow will also sing a sapphic duet with ACO violinist Satu Vänskä. When told the organisers were pondering an adult content warning, Humphries was highly supportive of the idea, and yet encouraged children to come along. He remains true to the Dadaist spirit of the time.

That kind of cheery and irreverent entertainment in the Weimar Republic ended with the Nazi's seizure of power in 1933. "It's art on the brink of cataclysm," Humphries says. "We are playing a lot of music that was not just banned, but led to the persecution and death of many of the composers." Some continued working in exile in film studios in London or Hollywood; many artists simply turned disheartened to other work. After the war, Humphries says "survivors left Europe for the furthest and safest destination they could find on the map: Melbourne." Some of these refugees sold him the records and schnitzel and coffee and that he found so very exotic and desirable as a teenager. He still recalls something one of those fascinating New Australians told him: "Hitler gave Melbourne good chocolate and chamber music."

First published on . Updated on .

By Jason Catlett   |  

Barry Humphries with Meow Meow details

Hamer Hall


Address
The Arts Centre
100 St Kilda Rd

Melbourne 3004

Transport
Nearby Stations: Flinders St

Telephone 1300 182 183

Price from $40.00 to $125.00

Date 05 May 2013-06 May 2013

Open Sun 2.30pm; Mon 8pm

Hamer Hall details

Melbourne area guide

Restaurants near Hamer Hall

Fatto Bar and Cantina

0m - Located on the terrace at Hamer Hall, Fatto offers simple Italian dishes for...

Sake Restaurant & Bar

21m - Saké is Sydney chef Shaun Presland’s contemporary Japanese restaurant...

The Tea Room

85m - The Tea Room is part of the NGV serving a dozen kinds of cuppa including...

Bars & pubs near Hamer Hall

P.J. O'Brien's

342m - One of Melbourne's premier Irish pubs, you'll find the walls splashed with...

Chill On Ice Lounge & Ski Lodge

399m - Have a rest from the hot weather this winter and chill at -10º in the...

Transit

421m - Located at the top floor of the Transport Hotel, Transit is a cocktail...

Other venues near Hamer Hall

Melbourne Arts Walk

0m - The Arts Centre Melbourne unveiled its Melbourne Arts Walk in December 2013,...

Arts Centre Melbourne

98m - Arts Centre Melbourne is the umbrella venue that houses the Hamer Hall,...

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

108m - The Ian Potter Centre houses NGV's extensive collection of Australian...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus
 


© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.