Daniel Barenboim and Harry Kupfer followed their acclaimed “Ring” cycle (discussed in last week’s column) with Richard Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal, which, if anything, was even more successful. Alas, the film of this version has been long unavailable.
Comparing their geometric, sparse Parsifal to that of Neues Kino director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s controversial 1982 multi-layered collage film would be a pointless task. Syberberg’s famous film is a case of a director with so much to say, that it literally becomes a truly rare kitchen sink moment in which repeated viewings reap priceless rewards.
Syberberg’s Jungian references abound with fascist symbolism, Nietzsche, Christian mythology, Post World War II Euro culture in a narcotic texture unlike anything before or since. Entire books could be written about this one of a kind film.
In 1993, long before Titus, Frida, or her most recent (and amazing) work, Across the Universe, Julie Taymor was known to modern opera buffs as the director of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. Taymor filtered Stravinsky’s opera through her own undeniably powerful, highly individualistic voice.
Undoubtedly, Stravinsky (who, like Picasso, went through numerous phases, from neo-classicism to post Webern serialism and yet made everything he touched sound like his own) would have approved of Taymor’s kindred aesthetic spirit.
When Taymor’s production first became available on the video market, word spread quickly, with many proclaiming it to be one of the very best, if not the best, opera yet filmed.
The sets (by George Tsypin), masks, sculptures, puppets, costumes ( Ei Wade), make-up (Reiko Kruk), Japanese dance and narration (the libretto by Jean Cocteau, originally in Latin, allowed for translation to the native language), Ozawa’s incisive conducting, add up to one of the most extraordinarily stylized and emotionally draining operatic Continue reading AVANT OPERA ON FILM, PART TWO