on March 8, 2009
I had an opportunity to view this film of Schoenberg's elusive and problematic opera on a theatre screen way back in the late 1970s. As an undergrad music student, I took it upon myself to attend the Art Institute of Chicagos series of opera on film, and this was one of the offerings. Unfamiliar with both the opera and its music, I recall this as being an alien experience, one that would require a second hearing/viewing. The recording used as the soundtrack was released on records/CDs (on Phillips) and I was able to better acquaint myself with Schoenberg's score. My memory of the film is less acute, but I remember the visual approach as minimalist, timeless in a Pasolini-type mode, and with very little movement, perhaps the better to call more attention to the complicated score rather than opulent visuals (the director could have gone "crazy" in depicting the golden calf orgy, but that is avoided). This is usually NOT the approach of opera on film (rather than a filmed staged performance). Many times the singers/performers stand camera side, or front and center and deliver their lines. Interestingly the costumes/decors are biblical-epic realistic. Unliked staged versions of the opera, the film resolves Schoenberg's unfinished final scene of the opera by having the text spoken, which gives the film an anticlimatic feel after the violent/graphic music of the orgy. It's noted that this film has been held up for release as its producer, New York Films, has gone out of business. I hope that another enterprising company might pick up the release of this film on DVD. Kultur? Arthaus? Anyone?
on February 25, 2009
I hope that this DVD edition might solve a problem that haunts every single presentation of this movie: it is pitched almost a 4th above of the original opera pitch!
Even for listeners with no perfect pitch, the experience of G. Reich voice sounding like a tenor would be a frustrating one!