A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I'm Listening To

Benjamin Britten, Peter Grimes. Jon Vickers (Peter Grimes); Heather Harper (Ellen Orford); Jonathan Summers (Balstrode); Elizabeth Bainbridge (Auntie); Forbes Robinson (Swallow); Patricia Payne (Mrs. Sedley). Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducted by Colin Davis.

I can't help thinking of this as Britten's greatest opera, though really what I'm thinking of is the breathtaking power of Jon Vickers' singing and acting. I've never heard the recording with Peter Pears, for whom the role was written, though I'm told that there are those who prefer Pears's interpretation, including the composer, who is said to have walked out on Vickers's performance. But no tenor that I know of had a greater control of dynamics than Vickers, who could sing with both hushed intensity and clarion brilliance. For me, he's the definitive Tristan and Siegmund and Florestan -- and Grimes. This recording, incidentally, has no libretto, but that's no real handicap -- you can find one online here.

No comments: