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Subject: The Paris Opera (L'Opera) - film
From: Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 8 Apr 2017 22:41:25 -0700
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Hello Listers,

 

I saw a wonderful documentary film called "The Paris Opera" today as a part
of San Francisco International Film Festival. The film just opened in Europe
on April 5th and I heard that it was picked up for distribution in U.S. as
well so look out for its release, I highly recommend it.

 

This film shows the on and (mostly) off the stage drama of daily management
of one of the grandest art institutions closely following Stephane Lissner
and Philippe Jordan around the time of Paris attack.

 

It starts out with a scene with a 21 year old Russian baritone Mikhail
Timoshenko who just won a training scholarship at the Paris Opera after
training in Weimar. He's a wonderful singer,  with boyish charm looking like
a cross between Donizetti and King Ludwig II and a beautiful voice. He
speaks fluent German and good English but almost no French initially but his
enthusiasm reminded of Fabiano in "The Audition".

 

Then the next scene is about the casting call for the live bull to be used
in the staging of Moses und Aaron. They consider a bull named Fiasco, but
eventually a docile bull named Easy Rider gets the role. To get him used to
the staging, Schoenberg is played for the bull in his cage on a loudspeaker.


 

There are Bryn Terfel and Jonas Kaufmann rehearsing la damnation de Faust,
the Timoshenko admiring Terfel's rendition of "voici des roses" from the
wings then tries to sing it himself. Bryn takes interest in this young
singer, telling him that he will go over Boris Godunov with him in a couple
of weeks since he's prepping the role. Timoshenko is awe-struck by this
generosity from Terfel and seems stunned.

 

There are many backstage scenes, kitchen staff and computer technicians
taking a moment of silence to remember the terror victims before the
beginning of the performance along with the artists on stage and the
audience, stage assistant waiting for the soprano who sweats a lot while
singing caro nome with a box of Kleenex, wig and makeup artist preparing for
the Meistersinger, chorus arguing about their blocking in Moses, chorus
practicing their dances for the last act f the Meistersinger, Finley who was
fine in the rehearsal gets suddenly ill before the Meistersinger and there
are frantic international phone calls "Where's Bryn?". Brandon Jovanovich
cheering everyone with his jovial personality, Philippe Jordan working with
Toby Spence to master the perfect pronunciation of "Wurst" for his David.
Two women (they seem like music prep staff or off-stage prompter)
rapturously singing along Jovanovich's prize song. 

 

There's also something for the ballet fans, the ballerina collapsing on the
wings out of breath after la Bayadere, the Bejamin Millepied's last phone
call to Lissner.

 

In one scene, Lissner suggests lowering the ticket price with his staff to
make opera more accessible. They discuss the inflation, compared to the
increase cost of producing La Boheme, then he remarks on the cost of seeing
"Kaufmann in Damnation". 

 

There's also a very moving scene of an elegant elderly lady Ursula
encouraging and supporting young musicians (called "les petits violons"
mostly of French kids of African origin, not unlike El Sistema of Venezuela)
practicing string instruments and their love and admiration was obviously
reciprocal. 

 

At the end we follow Timoshenko again, having finished a successful concert,
conversing comfortably with his admiring fans in French. Certainly a name to
remember.

 

Kirsten


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