La Boheme 2008

I have always cringed at films of opera. The opera “animal” in a celluloid cage seldom strikes to my heart as intensely as it does when we are in a theater hearing it live.

No amplification, just the soul of the artist transported to the audience on a bridge of personal sound. A human Stradivarius.

The connection, the magic is still there. The effect of hearing a great voice, I was reminded of this seeing the great Ponchielli piece La Gioconda, I was struck with the incredible and provocative sound of Ewa Podles. She infused in the dear music a sense of reality and truth which almost alarmed.

She is never not who she is, for a moment. Her search with head thrown back, hands frantic in front and above her at all times without Giconda, eyes unable to see searching in vain for some information, new senses employed to “see”, she looks almost as if the Cieca were drowning in life and trying to breath, to keep her head above water….the music lived. Mesmerizing.

The voice communicated the plight of this poor mother now blind and tired of life troubling her beloved daughter but with no choice, transfiguring the time with a devout belief in God. When she gives the Rosary, upon which so much of this story later will revolve and be a catalyst to action for Gioconda, she gives the best thing she has, her lifeline, in thanks for her life saved by Laura.

Podles electrified the audience and for me gave me one of the most satisfying nights in the opera. She is real, yet unafraid to be grand. Borodina also reminds us what it is to hear a voice that plush and immense, yet velvet. I am a huge fan of this voice. Everyone I enjoyed, Debbie’s first Gioconda here and my friend Achilles Machado and Carlo Guelfi, with the magnificent contributions of the ballet, which is really quite a great piece of both music and theater, I just loved this grand opera.

So did the audience. This is a photo of Madame Podles in “Un Ballo in Maschera” as Ulrica. Intense.

But I digress,
Today, goodness, is not a time to dislike TV and films of opera as it has become one of the ways to bring opera to the public, a public adoring of IPODS and HD screens and blue ray discs. Shame on those that look at opera the “old way”.

Debatable is the quality often extended and the egos intent on surplanting their own “takes” on the genius composers of their own works, “takes” that sometimes go in favor of toilet seats in rows with men urinating to open a production of Ballo. Naked is the way these days. Hardly new, it has been done over the years a lot, most especially in Europe. A benign pornography seems to be seeping in slowly. Is it bad?

Who knows, but to the arrival of Netrebko and Villazon’s new film from Constantin Films of the opera La Boheme, goes my fervent wish, that is is as beautiful as the trailer.

It seems to respect the score and the feeling Puccini had for this beautiful and sad story of two lovers in Paris. They seem appealing, with Miss Netrebko stepping comfortably into the shoes of this age’s lovely Anna Moffo. Moffo filmed many operas for the Italian film makers who flipped for her great beauty and style. This might just be a perfect fit, for Netrebko is VERY at home in front of the camera and from what I heard should make a lovely and warm voiced Mimi. It seemed also that the words were being used artfully.

Netrebko is an immediate figure on film, at once gorgeous, yes, but with a rare quality I hope carries through the whole film. She is accessible, you care about her. He is also good in the trailer so the rest is superfluous. The conducting even has a nice feel.

My fingers are crossed.

An opera film with two of the big stars of the opera world today respectful of the art?

Wow. That could be something to cheer about.

~ by aprilemillo on October 2, 2008.

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