Arts editor HELEN MUSA shares a week of arts in Canberra
REMARKABLE how easily it is for something irreplaceable to slip away in the name of progress. That thought was obviously on the minds of the loyal patrons who packed Teatro Vivaldi for the penultimate performance of “The Final Curtain”.
Those patrons lucky enough to gain admission last night were obviously eager to savour just one more time the special ambience, fine food and pithy entertainment for which Teatro Vivaldi has become justly famous.
The final performance tonight is booked out, after which Mark Santos and Anthony Hill who have carefully nurtured their elegant venue for the last 14 years, will begin the onerous task of dismantling their dream, removing from the scarlet walls the dozens of Venetian masks, theatre posters and celebrity photos that have given the venue its unique ambiance. And packing up the furniture and equipment in preparation for the painful clearance sale, before the wreckers come and reduce their precious creation to just a cherished memory.
True to form, the irony of the plan of decision makers at the ANU to tear down three iconic performance venues, the ANU Arts Centre, The Gods café and Bar, and Teatro Vivaldi to be replaced by a health and wellness centre, pavilions for pop-up events and a range of new performance spaces, was not lost on the three performers privileged with these last performances.
Canberra’s favourite satirists, John Shortis, Moya Simpson and former Artist of the Year Peter J. Casey, who between them have clocked up 32 shows in Teatro Vivaldi, commenced “The Final Curtain” with a warmly received song they composed for the occasion, “F…k The A.N.U”.
They followed through with more clever special material tracing the history of the venue, before treating the audience to a selection of favourite political songs, hilarious musical send-ups and their special brand of cheeky social commentary, all the while deftly dispensing perfectly judged amounts of sadness and celebration. Appropriately, they finished the show with another especially composed tribute, “The Final Curtain” which began with the words… “The cabaret is ended”.
After a typical night of great food, great show and great company, it proved a timely and sober reminder of an irreplaceable loss when Teatro Vivaldi closes its doors for the last time tonight.