3 Iconic Film Directors Interpret Classic Operas
What arias have to do with Cousin It, cinematic pathos and eccentric Germans.
By Maria Popova
To celebrate six years of collaboration between Sky Arts and the English National Opera, Sky Arts commissioned an unlikely trio to produce Sky Arts Opera Shorts — three opera short films by three of today’s most celebrated film directors: Dougal Wilson, Sam Taylor-Wood and Werner Herzog. The films are set to a popular aria of ENO’s 2008/2009 season, capturing each director’s distinct visual style. And, as big proponents of the cross-pollination of the arts and the creative intersections of past and present, we’re loving them.
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville may be among the world’s best-known, most widely loved operas, but when Dougal Wilson (we’re longtime fans) reenvisions it in his characteristically mischievous fashion, it’s a different kind of treat entirely. Hovering between classic silent film, hipster music video — that is, after all, Wilson’s specialty — and Adams Family reunion, the film is equal parts quirky and delightful.
I’m used to working with artists such as Goldfrapp and Will Young, so working with ENO presented me with a really fresh challenge. Directing an opera short allowed me to apply modern artistic disciplines to a traditional source to hopefully create a really engaging piece of work.” ~ Dougal Wilson
British filmmaker and conceptual aritst Sam Taylor-Wood never ceases to amaze. Last year, we were head-over-heels with Nowhere Boy, her poetic chronicle of John Lennon’s little-known early life. Here, she brings that same cinematic pathos to a simple yet powerful interpretation of Pagliacci’s Vesti la Giubba (On with the Greasepaint).
I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera’s most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria.” ~ Sam Taylor-Wood
Our long-running love for Werner Herzog continues unabated as the eccentric German director brings his signature this-is-looking-very-bizarre-and-I’m-not-quite-getting-it-but-can’t-stop-looking touch to O Soave Fanciulla (Oh you vision of beauty) from Puccini’s iconic La Bohème.
I’ve no doubt that the film shorts will generate interest from a whole new generation of music lovers — the results are fantastic. Filming in High Definition in Africa allowed us to juxtapose the traditions of opera with a real innovative setting, the uniqueness of which is hopefully reflected in the final film.” ~ Werner Herzog
Published March 22, 2011