Friday, February 13, 2009

Opera and Film

I'm going to my first professional live opera next week. So a free illustrated talk last Thursday was very timely. Good thing I'm on the mailing list for this place.

Gresham College was founded in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas Greville, the son of a London Mayor . Barnard's Inn, was the model Inn of Chancery for Dickens when he wrote 'Great Expectations'. It's certainly a lovely space, and the right size to feel comfortable, with an unusual ceiling that reminded me of the medieval banqueting hall at Eltham Palace, although not so vast. The audience filled about 100 seats. The 'folded linen ' oak panelling I've also seen in some National Trust properties.

The talk was one of the best I've heard. Gresham topics tend to be scientific, although Divinity is included, so I don't go very often. With subjects like 'Film and Music' and 'Psychology of Theatrical performance' on this year's programme I've made a few entries in my diary. There's also a series of talks on American Presidents by a visiting American Professor.

I'm glad this talk was prompted by the fact that so many people now watch opera on DVD, but others in the series cover different kinds of film music. I'm looking forward to 'Brief Encounter'.

Professor Roger Parker really knows how to entertain a (mainly elderly) audience His illustrations of filmed opera, from early silents where the singers just acted to an accompaniment, to the latest DVD versions, were a revelation. Imagine Sophia Loren blacked up and lip-synching 'Aida', or Placido Domingo obscured by a dust cloud in Francesco Rosi's 'Der Rosenkavalier'.

The information about how film interacts with opera music performance will add to my enjoyment of the opera recordings I own - mainly taped from TV. My only concern now is that 'La Boheme' next week will be a bit of an anticlimax. The Coloseum will have to be good to beat Barnard's Inn.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Thanks for reminding me about Gresham College. It's somewhere I've been meaning to go for a long time. Somewhere in my piles of London leaflets I do have a programme of their lectures but much better to be on email mailing list which I am now subscribed to.