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23.10.04

Opera by Film Directors

In an article (Lights, camera, Ariadne, October 17) for The Guardian, Allan Ulrich takes a look at how many film directors are getting into the opera act. Among recent examples, he mentions especially William Friedkin's production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos for the Los Angeles Opera (under Domingo's leadership), Julie Taymor's Magic Flute for the Met, Robert Altman's production of the world premiere of William Bolcom's A Wedding for Lyric Opera of Chicago (Arnold Weinstein's libretto adapts Altman's own 1978 film). To put this into historical context, he mentions operatic productions by Rouben Mamoulian (Porgy and Bess, 1935), Francis Ford Coppola (von Einem, The Visit of the Old Lady for the San Francisco Opera), Visconti, Schlesinger. Then, he looks toward the future:

The LA Opera has now commissioned productions by Herbert Ross, Bruce Beresford and Maximilian Schell, who returns for a new Rosenkavalier in May. [...] For LA's next season's opening, Garry Marshall's penchant for comedies like Pretty Woman and TV's Laverne and Shirley will be applied to Offenbach's satiric La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein. Friedkin is now insatiable. He has already signed on for a new Los Angeles Samson and Delilah and the premiere in 2006 of Unsuk Chin's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Domingo's one failure? Attempting to coax George Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic team into producing a 21st-century version of Wagner's Ring.
I also think that a Merchant Ivory production of a 19th-century opera—say, Massenet's Manon Lescaut—could be interesting.

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