Talking UP Melbourne 2Melbourne has the largest and most vibrant arts and cultural life in Australia.
Annuals arts celebrations include Moomba, the Melbourne Arts Festival, the Melbourne Fringe Festival, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Melbourne Fashion Festival, the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, the Melbourne International Animation Festival and the Gay and Lesbian Midsumma festival.
Melbourne is the home of the Australian Ballet and the second home of Opera Australia. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is highly regarded both at home and internationally.
Melbourne was strongly associated with the establishment of Australia's visual arts. The Heidelberg School was an Australian art movement of the late 19th century centred in Melbourne. It was largely the work of Melbourne-based artists, and was arguably the first distinctly Australian art movement (in the Western canon, at least). Many of its most significant works hang in the National Gallery of Victoria, which has one of Australia's top collections of visual art, particularly early Australian western-tradition art.
Melbourne is also home to the unique Australian Centre for the Moving Image dedicated to "moving images"in all its forms, from film to animation to games and television. ACMI is also a venue for the Melbourne International Film Festival.
There are two main theatre's - The Princess Theatre (owned by The Marriners) and Her Majesty's Theatre. Several professional theatre companies operate in Melbourne, of which the Melbourne Theatre Company has the most institutional support of any in Australia, and there is a wide range of professional smaller companies, including Malthouse and Red Stitch Actors Theatre and a healthy array of amateur companies that producer a professional standard of musical/striaght theatre such as CLOC, Catchment Players of Darebin, Altona City Theatre and Dandenong Theatre Company.
Melbourne's lively rock and pop music scene has fostered many internationally renowned artists and musicians. The 1960's gave rise to many performers including Olivia Newton John, John Farnham, Graeme Bell, and 1960's folk group The Seekers. The 1970's gave rise to many acts getting their first big breaks on Melbourne's Countdown (music show) including AC/DC, and Nick Cave; whilst INXS and Crowded House are among many who emerged during the 1980's. Successful Melbourne-based bands have included Hunters & Collectors, Killing Heidi, Spiderbait, TISM and Something for Kate. In recent years, Jet, Taxiride, as well as female singers such as Kylie Minogue, Dannii Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia, Vanessa Amorosi, Madison Avenue (band) and Kate Ceberano have enjoyed great international success. Melbourne also has a successful independent music industry. A variety of factors - including a relative abundance of venues and independent labels, a thriving street press and strong support from community radio - have made the city an attractive base for both home-grown artists and those from around the country. Notable Melbourne-based independent artists include The Lucksmiths, Darren Hanlon, The Drones and various others.
Melbourne is also widely known for the large amount of buskers (also known as street performers) that perform on the streets of the city. The wide varity of musical styles and different entertainment acts give the CBD a colorful atmosphere that many people enjoy. Catering to wide variety of musical tastes, Melbourne's musical buskers perform a varity of musical styles, from guitarts to world music (including Aboriginal and a large number of Andean artists). However, not all buskers are musicians. There are also living statues, street artists and jugglers.
The dance music scene in Melbourne is large and lively; the city is considered to be the dance music capital of Australia. There are dance parties happening almost every night of the year, frequently attracting some of the world's best DJs to the city. Some of the biggest nightclubs in the world are based in Melbourne, including the Melbourne Metro Nightclub (2500 capacity) and QBH (2100 capacity). The Melbourne Shuffle, a style of dance, had its birth here, and has been evolving ever since.
Melbourne has been the setting for many novels, television dramas, and films. Fergus Hume's international best-seller Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which outsold the Sherlock Holmes stories at the time, was set in Melbourne of the Gold Rush era. Frank Hardy's Power Without Glory tells the story of Melbourne businessman John West (based on the real-life John Wren) and is set in a thinly-disguised Collingwood, a Melbourne working-class suburb. Perhaps the best-known novel internationally is Nevil Shute's novel On the Beach. In 1959, it was made into a film directed by Stanley Kramer, and starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Anthony Perkins. The film depicted the denizens of Melbourne quietly slipping off into eternity as the last victims of a global nuclear holocaust. Filmed on location in and around Melbourne (a great novelty for Melbourne at the time), it is perhaps best remembered for a comment Ava Gardner never made, describing Melbourne as 'the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world', commenting on the dreary conservatism of Melbourne in the late 1950s. The purported quote was invented by journalist Neil Jillett. Similar filming was undertaken when a 2000 television movie remake was produced.
In recent years, many more films have been made in Melbourne. Some of the more famous include Mad Max, Chopper, Romper Stomper, featuring a young Russell Crowe as a terrifying Melburnian racist skinhead; Salaam Namaste, Jackie Chan's Mr. Nice Guy and The Castle. Melbourne has also produced many talented film and television actors including Cate Blanchett, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana.
Australian audiences saw Melbourne locations showcased by the 1960s-1970s Crawford Productions police television drama series Homicide and Division 4. Perhaps better known to a contemporary audience is the soap opera Neighbours, set in the fictional eastern suburb of Erinsborough, which presents a microcosm of suburban Australian life. Other contemporary television shows set in Melbourne include Stingers (a police drama), The Secret Life Of Us, Kath and Kim, Prisoner (known as Prisoner: Cell Block H for US and UK broadcasts), Halifax FP, and MDA.
Singer Paul Kelly has written several well-known songs about aspects of the city close to the heart of many Melburnians, notably "Leaps And Bounds"and "From St Kilda To King's Cross", while Skyhooks also wrote some more tongue in cheek songs about Melbourne. "Balwyn Calling", "Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo)"and "Toorak Cowboy"are examples. Native band The Living End purportedly wrote the song "West End Riot"about differences between eastern and western suburbs in the city. Melbourne has produced many popular international vocalists and singers including 1900's soprano Dame Nellie Melba, who took her name from her native city.
Melbourne-born satirist Barry Humphries created his main character Dame Edna Everage as a comedic version of a suburban homemaker. Through her he has performed cutting odes to Melbourne mores and the middle class suburbs of Moonee Ponds and Highett, among others.
Carols by Candlelight, first held in 1938, is a Christmas Eve tradition that originated in Melbourne, held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Melbourne has twice shared top position in a survey by The Economist of The World's Most Livable Cities on the basis of its cultural attributes, climate, cost of living, and social conditions such as crime rates and health care, once in 2002, and again in 2004. The US's Utne Reader puts it thus: "Add a long tradition of civic pride, communities of new immigrants from around the world, and the best food in Australia, and you have a recipe for what many claim is the hippest city in the Southern Hemisphere"(Nov/Dec 2001).
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