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Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices (1995)

Tod für fünf Stimmen (original title)
Works, legend and murders of Carlo Gesualdo, a notorious Italian composer and murderer from the 16th century.

Director:

Werner Herzog

Writer:

Werner Herzog
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pasquale D'Onofrio Pasquale D'Onofrio
Salvatore Catorano Salvatore Catorano
Angelo Carrabs Angelo Carrabs
Milva Milva ... Self
Angelo Michele Trorriello Angelo Michele Trorriello
Raffaele Virocolo Raffaele Virocolo
Vincenzo Giusto Vincenzo Giusto
Giovanni Iudica Giovanni Iudica
Walter Beloch Walter Beloch
Principe d'Avalos Principe d'Avalos
Antono Massa Antono Massa
Alan Curtis Alan Curtis
Gennaro Miccio Gennaro Miccio
Silvano Milli Silvano Milli
Marisa Milli Marisa Milli
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Works, legend and murders of Carlo Gesualdo, a notorious Italian composer and murderer from the 16th century.

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Referenced in Sweet Pain (2019) See more »

User Reviews

 
preposterous and hugely enjoyable
3 June 2003 | by Jeremy-93See all my reviews

At a pinch, I suppose I'd accept that some of the lurid carryings-on and local legends that have gathered around the figure of the composer Gesualdo, and are retailed here with a gleeful lack of critical scrutiny, might actually be true. Perhaps quite a lot of them are, but it doesn't really matter, because Herzog seems at least as interested in the way that people create, exploit and enjoy the legends, as in the composer himself or his music. Some sequences are very obviously staged for the camera, and Herzog seems almost to be daring us to believe that we really are talking to, say, a mad ex-opera singer who believes herself to be the reincarnation of Gesualdo's murdered first wife. The results are certainly very, very funny -- but everything pales before the irrepressible wife of a local chef, who disrupts his efforts to tell us about Gesualdo's extravagant menus with a torrent of abuse dedicated at the composer, whom she regards as the devil incarnate.

But then, for all its contrivances, the whole film has a deadpan, dishevelled feel about it. No effort is made to disguise that the resident expert Gerald Place is talking from notes or keeps developing a nasty frog in his throat: as one of the few people in the documentary who seems basically sensible, he has to be quietly sent up some other way! Only the intelligent and rather sympathetic Principe d'Avalos seems to escape with his dignity intact -- perhaps because he's aristocracy.

Musical duties are divided between two groups of singers. The Gesualdo Consort of London mostly sing in tune, the Complesso Barocco mostly don't -- the avant-garde quality is certainly exaggerated by the problems with intonation in what is very difficult music. As with the interviews with Gerald Place I get the impression Herzog didn't want to do retakes if things went slightly wrong, and the singing certainly has plenty of enthusiasm. Only he can be blamed for the way the audio and visual get out of sync by a couple of seconds in close-ups of the director in one of the musical performances; but somehow it all seems to add to the effect of cheerful bizarrerie. How a specialist in Renaissance music would react to this documentary I dread to think (I'm sure there'd be some swearing and gesticulation) but as social comedy it's priceless.


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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German | Italian | English

Release Date:

1995 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Death for Five Voices See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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