In Rio de Janeiro in 1886, eighteen-year-old conductor Arturo Toscanini, in Brazil on an orchestra tour, is torn between an aging soprano attempting a comeback and a mistress his own age. Opera diva Nadina Bulichoff has interrupted her stage career for Dom Pedro II the emperor of Brazil. When Toscanini begins to coach his childhood idol for a return to the stage in "Aida," Nadina has fallen into deep depression. The conductor is instrumental in her transformation as her performance proves an ultimate triumph and she is back the top of her art. Written by
The story behind the making and breaking of this film probably deserves close scrutiny. The whole things, at least at first, seems to be a giant mystery. Franco Zeferelli directed (yes, he was capable of doing poor work e.g. Endless Love despite its cast) but this one is not a bad job. C. Thomas Howell, as Young Toscanini, gives a fine performance and one that should have propelled his busy career into a leading man category. His work is excellent. Elizabeth Taylor likewise performs with the professionalism that is often overlooked. She is every inch the operatic diva the story requires. True, the ending scenes involve sloppy, how-do-I-finish-this-one moments. BUT the remainder of the work features excellence in acting, set and art decoration, cinematography, etc. The script has its lapses, but the rest of the film, despite its easy ending, may not be true to Toscanini but makes for splendid film-making. Why did this one slip by in the middle of the night?
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