On This Day: Glenn Close Born, Ben Kingsley Knighted, Sean Connery Bonded

Programming Note: Apologies that we're off schedule on episodes of Pfandom and Three Fittings. Performance anxiety (aka writer's block) at Film Experience HQ. While Nathaniel course corrects...

On this day in showbiz history...

Here are a few cinematic things to think about today March 19th. Which will you feel most festive about?

1859 Charles Gounod's Opera Faust premieres in Paris. There are multiple Faust operas just as there are multiple film versions of the 

1897 Betty Compson (The Barker, 1928), the only Best Actress nominee born in Beaver, Utah (I mean, she'd have to be, right?) enters the world. 

1915 Happy 102nd birthday today to 40s star Patricia Morrison (Dressed to Kill, Song of the Thin Man). Yes, she's still alive!

1947 Glenn Close is born in Connecticutt. 70 years later she still hasn't won her Oscar! She's back on Broadway in Sunset Blvd at the moment...
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Theater Review: Chicago Lyric Opera’s Energetic ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Chicago – The familiar story of the “star crossed lovers” by William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” has been given as many interpretations over the years as there are stars in the sky. The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the operatic French version, with a bright and venerate staging.

Play Rating: 4.0/5.0

There are many duets in this opera, as can be expected, and the two vocalists – Joseph Calleja and Susannah Phillips – are up to the task of portraying the title characters with energetic and purposeful stage personas. The famous couple come to life, and the vocal actors provide them something extra – an authentic sense of true love, and all the fate that this love creates. “Romeo and Juliet” is a tragedy in the Shakespeare canon, but the Lyric Opera production generates a hopeful sense of “tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all” (kudos to another British poet,
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French Composers

In the wake of the terrible attacks in Paris, I found myself listening to a lot of French music and thinking about the Leonard Bernstein quote going around on Facebook: "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." This list came to seem like my natural response. A very small response, I know. This list is chronological and leaves off people I should probably include. The forty [note: now forty-one] composers listed below are merely a start.

Léonin Aka Leoninus (c.1135-c.1201)

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris in the 1100s was a major musical center, and Léonin (the first named composer from whom we have notated polyphonic music) was a crucial figure for defining the liturgical use of organum, the first polyphony. Earlier organum was fairly simple, involving parallel intervals and later contrary motion, but the mid-12th century brought
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Concert Review: The New York Philharmonic's Tribute To Alfred Hitchcock

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer 

Last evening I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the New York Philharmonic's tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The unique two-night event at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center had commenced on Tuesday with an evening hosted by Alec Baldwin (who helped conceive of the tribute's format.) Last evening, the closing night's performance was hosted by Sam Waterson, who provided insights into the films chosen for inclusion and the composers who created the memorable scores. Under the banner The Art of the Score, master conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos lead orchestra in a presentation of flawlessly performed original music from specific Hitchcock films in synch with dialogue from the film clips shown. It's an impressive feat, given the fact that being off timing by a mere second could wreak havoc on the concept. The film scores honored were To Catch a Thief (Lyn Murray
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‘The Voice’ Season 2 Semifinals: TV Recap

‘The Voice’ Season 2 Semifinals: TV Recap
NBC Christina Aguilera on “The Voice.”

Judges have their final two singers, both of whom sing one song each. For the contestants, the only competition is their fellow teammate. Who moves on is determined Tuesday evening. Tonight, each performer sang exactly like you would expect them to: like they only had one shot left, and they had to make it count.

Singer: Tony Lucca

Team: Adam

Song: “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy

This is the second week
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Opera's battle for the big screen

Manager Peter Gelb is leading the way in attracting a new, younger audience to New York's Metropolitan Opera, but at what cost?

In Peter Gelb's office at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, there's a screen that's flush with the wall so it resembles a window. It captures whatever is happening on the Met's stage – so its general manager's eye can be trained on rehearsals and performances all day long. When I visit, the set of Philip Glass's Satyagraha is being taken down, to be replaced, a little later, by that of Don Giovanni (both productions have British directors, to whom we will return).

It is appropriate that Gelb's eye on his operatic kingdom is via a screen, for cinema has become the company's boom area. Gelb claims it will reap $10m–$12m (£6.4m–£7.7m) net profit from this, its sixth season of live HD transmissions into cinemas. Donizetti
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Adventures of Tintin is great art crudely redrawn

If you love the Tintin books, don't see Steven Spielberg's 'execrable' film adaptation

I entered the plush Leicester Square auditorium for a screening of The Adventures of Tintin with low expectations and 3D glasses. Donning the latter and suppressing the former, I thought for a few pleasant minutes that my forbearance might be rewarded: the opening credit sequence, a zappy graphic medley in which cityscapes, crime scenes and villains morph into and out of one another, was excellent; and so was the first scene, which wittily showed Hergé himself (Tintin's creator, in case you didn't know) eking out a living by drawing caricatures in a flea-market, the array of his past clients featuring characters from all the Tintin books. From then on, though, it was downhill, and then some. Steven Spielberg's adaptation is not just a failure; it is an assault on a great body of art so
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Expanded ‘Scream’ Score by Marco Beltrami announced

Varese Sarabande has announced the newest titles in their CD Club series. Among the new releases is a deluxe edition of Marco Beltrami‘s score for Wes Craven’s original Scream film. Only about 12 minutes of music from the horror movie has previously been released on a compilation with the sequel’s score. The new album features more than an hour of music from the film, which introduced Beltrami to a wider audience. One track on the CD is credited to Christophe Beck, who also was just starting out at the time of the film’s release. The album is limited to 2000 copies and is now available to pre-order on Varese’s website, where you can see the full track list and listen to audio clips from the soundtrack. Scream was released in 1996 and it’s cast included Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Jamie Kennedy and Drew Barrymore.
See full article at Film Music Reporter »

Opera Singer Richard T. Gill Died of Heart Failure

American opera singer Richard T. Gill has died, aged 82. He passed away in Providence, Rhode Island on Monday, October 25 after suffering heart failure.

Gill, an economist and longtime faculty member at America's esteemed Harvard University, quit his tenured job after discovering his voice through formal vocal training, which he began as an anti-smoking regimen at age 40.

He went on to perform featured roles with the New York City Opera in the early 1970s after a few years of study and later joined the Met, where he sang alongside opera greats including Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Kiri Te Kanawa and Shirley Verrett, between 1973 and 1976.

Gill's roles included Panthus in "Les Troyens", Frere Laurent in Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette", the Commendatore in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and the King in Verdi's "Aida". He retired from opera in the mid-1980s, and went on to publish several academic books, including "Our Changing Population", "Posterity Lost: Progress,
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Terry Gilliam to direct Faust for Eno

• Eno hopes to repeat Minghella success

• Company says 'It's our most ambitious season yet'

The man who defined Monty Python's visual language, and directed such films as Brazil, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is to try his hand at opera for the first time.

Terry Gilliam is to direct The Damnation of Faust at English National Opera next summer – where it is hoped that his production of Berlioz's masterpiece will not be beset by the problems that have harried the director in other contexts.

Heath Ledger died part way through the production of The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, while The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was abandoned after Jean Rochefort, the star, suffered a herniated disc and the set flooded.

John Berry, Eno's artistic director, acknowledged the risks for newcomers attempting to take on opera. "It can be like a car crash coming at you from every angle,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Terry Gilliam, Mike Figgis make opera debuts at Eno

English National Opera will hope to repeat the successes of Anthony Minghella's Madam Butterfly

You can sometimes hear complaints about English National Opera – they just grab the most fashionable names from the theatre, say the company's critics, and stick them in opera and hope for the best. (Rupert "Enron" Goold's 2009 Turandot was the one that really split opinion – some found it wayward but with flashes of brilliance, others felt it proved that the only really successful opera directors are those who are primarily musicians.)

For next season, announced today, at least one can see that Eno are being consistent – they are forging a distinctive identity based on the idea of hooking talent out of other artforms and using that as a way of tempting new audiences into the London Coliseum.

And certainly, I'll be dying to see how Terry Gilliam envisions Berlioz's Damnation of Faust next May – as well
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Art of Breaking Up

MILL VALLEY, Calif. -- Georges Feydeau may be the most frequently performed playwright in France, but "The Art of Breaking Up", a film based on his first successful farce, "Fly in the Ointment" (1890), doesn't do justice to the form or to his work. Adapted by Rosalinde Deville and directed by her husband, Michel Deville, the play gets lost in translation to the screen.

Despite the presence of the ravishing Emmanuelle Beart and the usually meticulous Charles Berling as well as burlesque shtick and wild camera moves, "Art" remains stagebound and predictable. Lacking any variation in dynamics, the film hits a piercing note and sings it for the duration. Few of Deville's works have traveled well -- or often -- outside his native France, and this, which is reportedly his swan song, will probably be no exception. With its narrow appeal and mannered subject matter, Deville's last project, capping a 45-year career, is unlikely to find an audience outside of festival slots.

In a series of wacky, loosely knit vignettes, Beart camps it up as Lucette, a beautiful, lusty chanteuse who in the first scene is found weeping copious tears as Charles Gounod's hyperdramatic score from "Faust" blasts on the soundtrack. (Beart's luscious physicality is the main reason, perhaps the only reason, to see this film.) It is Lucette's misfortune to be in love with a cad, Edouard de Bois-d'Enghien (Berling), who desires her but, unbeknownst to Lucette, has pledged to marry another woman for money. Edouard's future mother-in-law, Madame Duverger (Dominique Blanc), puts the moves on him, too. Pandemonium, sexual calisthenics and overacting ensue.

Madeline Fontaine's sumptuous and colorful period costumes, especially for Beart, complement Thierry Leproust's production design, which evokes vaudeville, 19th-century drawing room formality and elegant country living.

Characteristically a restrained actor, Berling sacrifices his dignity and vamps his way through the proceedings. He's not alone. Yes, it's farce, but the film is too zany for its own good: The nonstop gags and episodes of energetic fornication soon grow tiresome. A more apt film title might have been: "Subtlety takes a vacation".

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