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, December 28, 2012


Tonight I watched an American opera company's production of a German opera based on a play written in French by an Irishman who then translated it into English. It was Richard Strauss's Salome, of course, a production of the San Francisco Opera that I recorded several months ago and just now got around to watching. The title role was played by Nadja Michael, a German soprano who's a better actress and dancer than singer -- she stirred up some real intensity playing around with Jokanaan (Greer Grimsley) both alive and decapitated. It was certainly a more, uh, vivid performance than the only live Salome I've seen, a Dallas Opera performance with Roberta Knie, a rather large young woman but a much better singer than Michael. It must have been in the mid-1970s, because Knie made her American debut in Tristan and Isolde in Dallas in 1975; the Tristan was Jon Vickers.

Here's the final scene from the 1974 film of the opera with Teresa Stratas as Salome, Hans Beirer as Herod, and the great Astrid Varnay as Herodias. The conductor is Karl Böhm.