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In the Shadow of the Stars


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Product Details

  • Actors: William S. Jones
  • Directors: Allie Light, Irving Saraf
  • Producers: Allie Light, Irving Saraf, Lynn O'Donnell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009U6XCU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "In the Shadow of the Stars" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature and lauded by the San Francisco Chronicle as "wonderfully funny yet equally heart-rending," IN THE SHADOW OF THE STARS is a hilarious and affectionate look at the path to stardom inside the competitive world of opera. Filmmakers Allie Light and Irving Saraf relegate the divas to the background and focus on a limelight-craving group of "choristers" -- the seldom-noticed singers who stand behind the soloists portraying peasants, soldiers and slaves.

Customer Reviews

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See all 13 customer reviews
This is a great film for everyone in the family.
Zoe
And even if they are not "stars," most of them seem to have worked harder pursuing their dream of making music than I can even comprehend.
Maria Beadnell
I feel truly enlightened and appreciate way more the path in which these incredibly talented people take.
Drew W

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
The grand spectacle of opera -- the mega-stars, the scenery, the lights, the costumes -- would be much less grand were it not for the incredible talents and contributions of the opera chorus. Winner of a Best Documentary Academy Award (in 1991) "... Shadow ..." highlights several members of the San Francisco Opera chorus -- one of the best in the US -- displaying their talents, their dreams and ambitions, their everyday lives.
From the baritone who married the mezzo to the husband of one of today's superstars (Ruth Ann Swenson), we see exactly what is involved in rehearsal and performance, the long hours, the commitment and versatility required to sing the variety of repertoire required of the members of the chorus. The video includes scenes of rehearsals and performances of "Il Trovatore," "Parsifal," "L'Africaine," "Flying Dutchman," "The Rake's Progress," and "MacBeth" among others.
In keeping with the anonymous nature of a chorister's existence, none of the featured singers is identified in the credits (a few of them do identify themselves during their segments). The editing is incredibly well-done, the photography is wonderful, and the entire film "flows" with a sense of music and rhythm.
A must see for any singer who aspires to sing onstage; or for anyone who desires a greater appreciation of just what goes into opera performance.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lump828 on March 24, 2006
Format: DVD
This is an enchanting, well-photographed film full of humor, wit and compassion. The filmmakers do an excellent job of storytelling as they take the viewer behind the scenes of the opera and tell the tales of the would-be divas. You don't like the opera? Not a problem. This movie can be appreciated by anyone who has ever had a dream unfulfilled but dares to dream on. Bravo!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on February 12, 2008
Format: DVD
What a heartwarming, lovely documentary!

While there's a similarity to Waiting for Guffman, this differs in that it is real, and that the people featured are amazingly talented and well-spoken. And even if they are not "stars," most of them seem to have worked harder pursuing their dream of making music than I can even comprehend.

My favorite is the soprano (?) chorister who wistfully says, "I'm playing a peasant, but my costume is silk because it wears well. It's sturdy. We can't get them wet, we're not allowed to sweat in them, because they are silk. But that baritone (principal)...he can wipe his face on __his__ costume and it's ok." But I also like the baritone quoting Anna Russell. And the trucker trying to learn "Madamina" while on the road. (Listening to his voice lesson is exasperating. He sounds great to my untutored ear, but his teacher, paid to be a perfectionist, only finds faults.) Then there's the baritone who sang some choral piece in Latin for his audition, and laughs while he reflects that they should have let him go right then. He seems the most at peace with his decisions and his life.

It seems to me that this would be a great film for anyone with a dream: baseball, music, whatever. Or even if you don't have a dream. It's still fun.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Zoe on November 22, 2006
Format: DVD
This is a great film for everyone in the family. It is a wholesome, warm, sensitive look at the inner workings of the opera. This would make a great gift. I highly recommend this Oscar winner.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susan M. Dunn on December 29, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This movie is so charming and captivating, I was spellbound until the end. You don't have to be an opera lover to be fascinated by the stories of these singers who would love to be in the spotlight, but for the most part are part of the musical background. Each vignette is unique, and the personalities are so varied. But each has the goal of glorious singing, and we can't help but care about their struggles to "make it". See this film!! And spread the news.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
We received an email from Allie Light at San Francisco Public Library several years ago. This is part of her message: "My late husband, Charles Hilder was an opera singer and music teacher. He dies of cancer at 33. This documentary is about his life and the lives of other singers. The film is a way of saying goodbye. Sometimes one grieves forever."
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "terrierman" on July 14, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most painfully hilarious documentaries ever made. This is the real-world progenitor of Christopher Guest's "Waiting for Guffman" and is one of those extraordinarily rare examples of life besting art. If you don't see the gut wrenching poinancy of these poor chorus schleps giving it their all, each with not inconsiderable talent undercut by a tragic flaw--epitomized by the one baritone's comment that God had played a cruel joke on him by making him loud, but unartistic--you just don't get what life's about. A great documentary that works on many levels; GET THIS MOVIE!
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