East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

What's opera, Doc?

We are happy to add to our list of A Plus Movies Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. When we saw this two years ago at the Castro we were impressed by Demy's grown-up view of youthful romance, but were afraid overanalysis might reveal the construction as insubstantial. What struck us upon a second viewing at the PFA last night (on a magnificent double bill with Jacquot) was the music. We already knew Michel Legrand's score ranked up there with Delerue's for Jules & Jim (though we don't really care for film scores). But we hadn't noticed how conversational the libretto was. This is a musical that's all recitative -- even the memorable Geneviève/Guy duets have the same diction as the rest of the singing -- and yet doesn't feel forced: the words are arranged around the melody without contortion. One of our betters claimed this was possible because French speech is formal. We can't verify this, but note that in English this degree of ease is only accessible to megatalents of the order of Sinatra and Jay-Z; in Umbrellas, it's achieved by most of the near-anonymous singers who dub the stars. This doesn't negate the achievement of Demy and Legrand: the attempt of a friend of Bizet's to add recitative to Carmen is regarded as a train wreck. Demy and Legrand, on their part, reveal there's art in everyday speech and everyday love -- in France, anyway.


The failure to attract comments is perhaps less galling than attracting lame comments would have been. But it's a failure nonetheless.


Orhan Pamuk interview.


David Mitchell
writes linear novel shocker!


Are the editors at the Times on strike or something? "You are living in a world created by Elizabeth Bishop" -- does this guy think he's blogging?

ADDENDUM: Now this is how you do overstatement. Personally I can't decide between Dylan and Godard, but hope it's the former.


  • At 11:48 PM, Blogger The Fed Ex of Funk said…

    I have no idea what you're talking about here. But I like the lifetime reading list you found.


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