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Subject: 1927 - Wings - Theatre at Ace Hotel - a Rigoletto Recording
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:27:35 -0700

text/plain (68 lines)

1927 is the theme of this post:

Yesterday, we went to see Wings, the 1927 blockbuster silent film that won
the first Academy Award for Best Picture and made stars of Clara Bow and a
lanky young Gary Cooper.  We saw it at the Theatre at Ace Hotel which is
the renovated United Artists Theater built in 1927. It's the first time we
made it into this  magnificent movie palace (partially designed by Mary
Pickford) that is now a major arts center in downtown Los Angeles. I don't
think there is a facility to equal the Ace for its special virtues in the
Northeast (with the possible exception of Radio City) and I'm happy to
report that the LA Opera and UCLA are using it for high level arts projects:

The presentation of Wings was one of the events in the Los Angeles
Conservancy Festival: Last Remaining Seats which features older movies
shown in various Los Angeles movie palaces. There are, according to what
I've heard about 50 remaining movie palaces in the US of which there are 30
in the Los Angeles area. Yesterday was the third we've gone to - Wings is
special to us, it was the first date my wife and I had in 1971 when we saw
it at a Lincoln Center Festival showing...

The advent of the movie palaces came as opera waned - it's no accident that
they resemble the fancy opera houses of the past and basically served to
replace them in the public's imagination. 1927 when The United Artists
Theatre was built was three years after Turandot, the last Italian opera
 that would make it into the standard repertory.

1927 would also see the first Broadway musical to supplant grand opera -
Show Boat. No subsequent opera in German or Italian or French or Russian
has held a place in the repertory as has Show Boat. Show Boat was the
coming of age landmark musical that would lead the way to several Broadway
works that serve as a standard repertory that not only musical venues, but
opera houses draw on - works like Oklahoma!, Finian's Rainbow, Carousel,
South Pacific, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, etc....

By coincidence I listened today to the superb 1927 recording of Rigoletto.
It is one of the earliest recordings of it, the first electric (I think).
It was recorded just 76 years after the premiere of the opera and the style
was still very much a part of the performing zeitgeist. I've never seen a
performance to match it though one I saw with Louis Quilico at the NYCO in
the late 1960s perhaps came close. The 1927 Rigoletto recording is readily
available on iTunes and Amazon and I strongly recommend it. A very young
Lina Pagliughi has very little coloratura (by contrast Netrebko is a
technical wiz), but she has a limpid tone that is perhaps the closest I've
heard to the kind of singing that Galli-Curci and to a lesser extent,
Tetrazzini were providing in those times. The entire cast is Italian,
idiomatic, and worlds removed from the generic type of Rigoletto we see

1927. Its a year to think about.....

James Camner

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