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June 28, 2010


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Evelyn Roak

A quick reply to a quick post to say that if we are talking about a) successful opera films, and b) those with intelligent "visual presentations" that "merge (opera and cinema) to create something fabulous and new" one would be remiss in not mentioning Straub-Huillet's film of Schoenberg's opera: MOSES UND ARON, a film which qualifies as both of the above, and much much more.

Not simply one of the greatest opera's of all time but one of the greatest films. As far as opera films go it is 1a and 1b with MOSES UND ARON and PARSIFAL. As far as Straub-Huillet films go, MOSES UND ARON is very near, if not at, the top of the list (to say nothing of the whole unwieldy world of movies).

Also, re: PARSIFAL. A brief recommendation of Michel Chion's discussion of the film in his book THE VOICE IN CINEMA. An excellent piece of writing on the film in an altogether excellent book. I have long wondered why his work (both critical and musical...but for this here discussion, critical) hasn't received more attention. His book on Tati is a masterpiece through and through.

Glenn Kenny

Yea, verily, the Straub/Huillet rendering of the Schoenberg is remarkable, and it's too bad that New Yorker Video imploded right before it could issue its DVD edition of the film, whicn promised to be quite nice. (It may yet happen in the company's revival.) The opera itself is one of my very favorites, and I can recall seeing two superb performances of it, one at the Châtalet in Paris in 1990, another at City Opera in Lincoln Center a couple of years after that. I'll have to look into the Chion.


Glenn, I know it's common knowledge, but you're one smooth fucker.
This 160 is right on the money. Can't wait to read your findings.

Evelyn Roak

Also, speaking of "singing films", or something, Edgar G Ulmer's THE SINGING BLACKSMITH plays tonight in NYC with an intro by J Hoberman. Tonight is one of those NYC embarrassment, and frustration, of riches, what with The Ulmer, the Anthony Mann series continuing, and the above mentioned LA CAPTIVE playing (an incredible film itself). And then life standing in the way, as it is apt to do, making it unclear whether I can see any (thankfully I have seen the Akerman a few times). Decisions, decisions. The Mann series will be demanding enough of my time already, obnoxious Film Forum audiences, and tiny screens, be damned.

Mark Slutsky

I just got the DVD of Bergman's THE MAGIC FLUTE. God, I love it so much. Is it on Blu-Ray somewhere? I don't mind its SD-ness as it was made for TV and all, but it would be nice.

Actually, I blogged a little tribute to its amazing opening sequence here... http://markslutsky.com/post/610558815/100-and-something-faces


For Opera Films & Straub-Huillet I highly recommend their "Von heute auf morgen", a one act opera by Arnold Schoenberg. In black & white and very funny. I think it has the Lubitsch-Touch. Available in France by Editions Montparnasse.


James Keepnews

My Netflix queue has had the Straub-Huillet "Moses and Aaron" (sic, sic, sic) on the "Saved DVD" portion of my Netflix queue in the perhaps vain hope there'll ever be a decent DVD release of it, and/or that Netflix will add it to their, um, selective collection (similarly quarantined on that list: Go-Go Tales, The Connection, My Name is Albert Ayler, &c., &c.). It's a major work that seems unusually close to Schönberg's sensibility, which makes it a mystery to me why it remained generally unfinished from the composer's perspective, if not that of the opera company programmer.

Jeff McMahon

I'm just going to display my ignorance and say that, as far as I can see, that's a big piece of mozzarella with a raspberry-jelly filling.

Doug Pratt

Look for the opera films of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. They're excellent cinematic accomplishments, especially The Marriage of Figaro and Rigoletto

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