A deliciously biting satire about both the world of Grand Opera and United Europe. A Hungarian conductor (Arestrup) attempts to mount a bold new production of Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser" ...
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A deliciously biting satire about both the world of Grand Opera and United Europe. A Hungarian conductor (Arestrup) attempts to mount a bold new production of Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser" while navigating the snares and pitfalls of artistic egos, rampant nationalism, internal company and union politics, and precarious funding.Written by
Dawn M. Barclift
The director's name, István Szabó, translates as Stephen Tailor, and one running gag in the film is that several people are called this in different languages: Stefan Schneider, Steve Taylor, Stefano Sarto (three of the singers), and Etienne Tailleur (the stage manager). See more »
A first rate film about the birth of a Tannhauser performance
This film is much more than a customary movie about opera, though opera lovers get first-rate extracts from Wagner's Tannhauser as well. The action takes place in an imaginary "Opera Europe" in Paris. István Szabó, the excellent film director is really interested here in fanatic people of the theater who came from several countries of Europe to unite their talent in order to create a successful performance of Wagner's youthful masterpiece. The ensemble is a mixture of multinational people: the head of the company (a Spaniard, a former hero of the Spanish Civil War,) her private secretary and mistress (descendant of a noble Russian family,) the conductor (a talented young Hungarian who suffers from inferiority complex because of his East-block origin,) the singer who plays Tannhauser (a permanently offended dumpy man from the DDR with beautiful voice,) the French theatrical technician (a pig headed trade unionist who causes much trouble,) etc. They carry with themselves all good and vicious habits and traditions of their origin which cause many conflicts but humorous episodes as well during the rehearsals. There is a remarkable scene when at a dinner party the protagonists put aside all of their conflicts and sing together a song called "Suliko" which was once Stalin's favorite. (They sing it not because they love Stalin, but because of a certain nostalgia for their youth.) In the center of the story stands the Hungarian conductor's and a Nordic singer's (played by Glenn Close) stormy love affair which ends in diminuendo (using here deliberately this term of music.) Strongly recommended for everyone who loves art and theater.
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