Magic Flute: recorded in the dark?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dennis Nicholls, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Dennis
    I see that Zimmer has another opera disk review for us:
    http://www.digitallyobsessed.com/sho...w.php3?ID=4069 .
    This is really bothering me. It seems that the producers are so enamoured with the concept of "live performance" that they film a live performance which of course is presented IN THE DARK. When you film this either on film or on video, all you get is dark grainy images, and poor contrast.
    I've got a copy of La Boheme on Pioneer Classics that appears to be a better effort than the Magic Flute that Zimmer discusses. But it still is marginal.
    Why the heck don't they film THE DRESS REHERSAL IN FULL LIGHT? Why do I want to hear over-miked applause and audience noise?
    And another problem. They use directional boom mikes for the soloists. But when they move about on stage, and especially when they turn about, their voices' volume goes up and down. You don't notice this in the theater so much because when they have their back to the audience the sound is reflected by the stage. But this reflected sound is lost due to the directional mike.
    Why don't they put wireless mikes on the soloists? These are getting better all the time.
    Heck I prefer the movieization of operas, where the singing is dubbed in in post-production. See and hear for example the copy of Carmen on Columbia Tri Star DVD. It's a 1984 film version shot on location in Spain by Francesco Rossi. I wonder what Mark would say about this. Is there room on Zimmer's schedule? (a pun across two languages)
     
  2. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Dennis,

    That's not true. The stage is well lit during any performance. The problem comes when a videographer doesn't know how to properly shoot in low light. It is true that video has a harder time capturing low-light images and that a great number of filmed stage performances use brighter lighting than what would normally be used. I'm not sure what went wrong here. I do know that Opera singers are known to be a little tempermental about anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps one of the performers objected to different lighting. Who knows?
     
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Thanks, Dennis. I am coming to appreciate movieizations of operas more and more myself as these substandard live performances come to disc. In their defense, many like this one were shot on video in the 1980s and no one conceived of them being on DVD. But still, someone should have done some processing to reduce the thumping racket that's heard on this disc...it's an embarrassment.
    Oh, and thanks for the pun. When I went to London nearly 20 years ago, I had reserved a room in a bed & breakfast run by an elderly Pakistani gentleman. I arrived one rainy morning, knocked on the door and said, Hi, I'm Mark Zimmer. All he apparently heard was the last part, and mistaking me for a German tourist, said, "No, no Zimmer" and shut the door in my face! I had to knock again and say 'no, my NAME is Zimmer'. He was very apologetic but it's one of my favorite puns to this day. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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    I don't know why you would bother with a lousy video of the Magic Flute when you can get the Criterion DVD of Ingmar Bergman's brilliant film (which simply captures a live performance), and is IMHO still unrivaled when it comes to filmed opera.
    Another very well done recent opera film is Benoit Jacqot's Tosca it is out on DVD in R2 France with a DTS soundtrack, I'm not sure about R1.
    Ted
     
  5. PatrickL

    PatrickL Second Unit

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  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    The Criterion disc is sung in Swedish, for starters....but I'll agree that visually it has it all over this one.
     
  7. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The discussion on The Magic Flute is exactly why selecting opera on DVD is so hard. What to do? Go for the best staging? Or the best singing? Or a host of other variables.

    For another example, I have several versions of Tosca, but when I want to hear the best, I always pull out copy with Tito Gobbi, Maria Callas and Giuseppe de Stefano. This is so old that its in mono. But still the benchmark. I still looking for a version on DVD.

    I really go for looks more than the best music on DVD. For example, I find the DVD of the performance of Turandot in the Forbidden City to be just grand.

    And I’d second all the comments on Bergman. I find from the beginning of the little girl in the audience to the end, that this is a just magical presentation. I’m normally an original language bigot, but in this case I don’t care that its in Swedish.
     
  9. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

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    The discussion on The Magic Flute is exactly why selecting opera on DVD is so hard. What to do? Go for the best staging? Or the best singing? Or a host of other variables.

    I go for a combination of best performance and best casting. While staging would obviously seem to hold the most weight since DVD is a visual format (vs CD), no matter how good the staging is, I'm not going to want to sit through a recording if the performance is poor. For instance, my video Figaro of choice is Gardiner's on DG/Archiv. While it's a minimalist staging to the extreme, the singing and orchestral playing doesn't get much better. What makes this recording special (both audio and video) is that it's superbly casted, both for voice and looks. Instead of trying to put together a dream team of singers, Gardiner picked singers would looked right for their parts, and could play them. No one is too old, too overweight, etc. Because of this, the sexual tension in the story between characters comes through remarkably well. Also, it's one of the best acted operas I've ever seen.

    So, the video recording was able to capture something you could only see/experience at a live performance - something which staging would have had little to on effect upon.

    (It's also a recording of a live performance which is definitely for the better. The presence of an audience makes such a difference in everyone's performance.)

    Gardiner's video recording of The Magic Flute should be on DVD next year, just wait for that.
     
  10. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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