Updated on March 16, 2010, 1:33 AM - Written by Tim Buttner
First let me comment on how beautiful the Metropolitan Opera is, and how amazed I was by the architecture of the Lincoln Center. Truly a mesmerizing location to travel to for the opera, and then to witness the opera from balcony seats that I paid $70 per seat for was absolutely astounding. The set design was grandiose beyond anything that the Philadelphia Opera Company could present, and I had seen La Boheme, Rigoletto, and L'Italiana in Algeri there. I don't have anything against the oldest opera house in the country, nor the presentation of the music, but there is simply something about the decadence of New York City and the amount of money they are able to sink into their opera. Giacomo Puccini's final opera is one of my favorites and it was a great pleasure to see and hear it live as it will live with me for all of my life.
The room erupted with applause as the conductor stepped out into the orchestra pit and took a bow, and applause rose again when the curtain rose to reveal the people of Peking as the music began. It began with a short overture that set the mood and introduced the Chinese sounds that Puccini had worked into the composition. Puccini works in the chorus of the crowd who meet an announcement from the mandarin. Instantly I'm aware that the music is homophonic, and the instrumental works as the incident music to the action that takes place on stage and as a compliment to the voices of the people of Peking and our main characters.
When we are introduced to Timur, the disposed Tarter king, and his faithful servant Liù it is obvious that the singer playing her will steal the show. Indeed she got a standing ovation at the end of the show because she gave an absolutely devastating and beautiful performance. We met Calaf, and are given the exposition in wonderfully sung recitative. Puccini certainly knew best how to incorporate the voices of crowds into his operas, giving soul to the setting. The change in dynamics and ti...
Updated on March 2, 2010, 11:59 AM - Written by Tim Buttner
The White Ribbon is a wonderful movie made by German writer, director Michael Haneke about a north German village in the year prior to World War I. Although they shot the film on color stock (Kodak Vision3 5207 and Vision3 5219) it was digitally converted to black and white. They also used digital technology to sharpen the images and facial expressions, and as well to remove modern details from the images, which allowed for the place setting to be the more real. All in all this allowed for stunning black and white cinematography.
The beginning of the movie is set during the late summer going into fall and harvest. From the opening shot, which involves a slow fade in to the country side and a single horse rider coming from the distance to the foreground and suddenly tripping on a hidden wire, to the last shot of all the villagers in the church the audience views stunning shots of the village and the countryside surrounding it. The shots inside the homes of the villagers is full of natural light during the days, and candle light at night and it feels as though the filmmakers used little to no artificial lighting in a style similar to Terrence Malick. Overall the movie feels very influenced by Malick with its voice-over and philosophical view of a historic mindset. The moralistic questions raised about the origins of evil are elevated by the ambiguous black and white cinematography, almost bringing back themes of film noir. Indeed the deep focus used throughout the movie is reminiscent entirely of that that was used in the 1940's by film noir directors. Also similar to that style is the stark contrast of lights and darks; where there are many frames where absolute black and absolute white are present, and all the shades of grey in between. The characters that inhabit this world are not necessarily black and white, but instead the ambiguous shades of grey.
Unlike the Hollywood movies that storm the cinemas around the world day i...