An opera rant, and more for the shop

Note: This might get a little boring for anyone who's not an opera nerd like myself... sorry!  You can scroll down and look at the pictures of things in the shop, instead ;-)

The last couple weeks I've been deeply involved in my music research project, in which I'm comparing and contrasting the methods of the composers Bellini and Gounod in turning the story of Romeo and Juliet into operas.  (Bellini was an Italian, writing in 1830; Gounod, a Frenchman whose opera premiered in 1867).  This project led me to watch a film version of the Gounod opera, made about 10 years ago and claiming that "Shakespeare's lovers never looked and sounded so good as in this romantic new film adaption."

Well.  I take issue with that statement!  Firstly, apparently this director was trying to make a feature-length film, presumably to appeal to a wider audience than opera often draws.  When dealing with a 3-hour opera, that means some pretty significant cuts.  (The liner notes say that the film is "based on a slightly abridged version of the opera", to which I replied "slightly?!?" in tones of disbelief...)  So, about half the opera was missing, and much of the rest had been rearranged to fit the director's vision, or something.  (This led to startling choices such as Romeo and Juliet being married *after* Romeo has killed Tybalt...)

Secondly, I realise that opera singers are usually older than the characters they portray (since a lot of operas center around young love, and the singing voice is not really mature until the 30s...)  This works on stage, mostly.  However, if you're going to do extreme closeups, and have your characters cavorting around the countryside and rushing breathlessly around in excitement, it works better if they don't look closer to 40 than to 20.  I couldn't take them seriously!

There was also the bit, when Juliet is waking from her drugged sleep, when Romeo exclaims "Her lips mumured; my trembling fingers felt in hers the warmth of her blood!  She looks at me and raises herself!" -- all while standing ten feet away from Juliet, and looking at the sky.  He's not touching her.  He's not even looking at her.  How is he supposed to know she's doing all that?  Did the director really think that people would be so stupid as to not be able to read subtitles?  Or did she not actually know what his words meant?  That was the last straw.

Most of the film seemed to be more about showing off the gorgeous countryside (it was filmed on location at a castle in the Czech Republic) and much less about the plot.  The music is gorgeous (with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu, it's bound to be, even if they do look too old), but for me at least it wasn't an effective film.  And by "wasn't effective" I mean "I sat there fuming at the screen for three quarters of the movie."


In other news, I have a few new things in the shop tonight!  

Two sets of hand-quilted coasters, one stitched with silver-grey perle cotton and one with a dusky blue.

And a scarf, the colours inspired by Hogwarts' Gryffindor House, but of course you can wear red and gold even if you're not a Harry Potter fan!


  1. I like your definition of 'not effective.' It works for me!


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