Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Adams - Death of Klinghoffer / Randle Sylvan Howard Maltman Boutros Melrose Bickley LSO|
Actors: Sanford Sylvan, Christopher Maltman, Yvonne Howard, Tom Randle, Kamel Boutros
Director: Penny Woolcock
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
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Hard Hitting, Wrenching Musical Drama
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 01/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just finished watching Penny Woolcock's film of John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" and am trying to find energy and calm while writing this and wiping away two hours of tears. The hype surrounding the film was not false, this is a piece which is nothing less than devastating. Although I'm somewhat familiar with the original recording of the opera, this is my first experience "seeing" it - understanding that this is different than any stage version could possibly be. It is indeed difficult to watch and I watched the majority of it through tears and shaking my head. The balancing is clear and it is not difficult to have genuine feelings of sadness for the plight of the Palestinians while at the same time recoiling in horror at the actions they choose.
Sanford Sylvan is staggeringly good, creating a character of likeable sensitivity, warmth and strength even an hour before he sings a note. And that smile Marilyn sings about really could light up a room. Sylvan's portrayal is so "there" he made me wish I'd known this man. An example of this occurs (while still silent) in the first moments of the hijacking, Leon cradles and tries to protect and comfort his wife but the tears in his eyes she cannot see give off a myriad of emotions - helpless impotence to control the situation, fear and what else I can only imagine. The scene of his brutal, incomprehensible murder is chilling more than words can describe. At least my words. His "floating" aria provides a calming effect that is at once eerily beautiful yet disturbing to watch. (Woolcott stated the underwater cameramen were amazed at Sylvan's remarkable breath control allowing him to stay underwater for minutes at a time, eyes wide open).
Yvonne Howard's Marilyn simply breaks the heart, her final aria nearly unbearable in its poignancy. I can't understand the criticisms levelled at the scene before her husband's death where she's prattling on about pain, and idle chatter. She doesn't believe her husband is in any grave danger and she's doing what many of we humans typically do . . . chatter about things not terribly important - anything to take our minds off the horror of the situation at hand. How does one not get that? Very high marks to Ms. Howard.
One of the passengers on board sums up the unbelievability of such situations "Horrible . . . horrible, to see one's fellow men become like beasts" In an all too human moment, one of her next lines expresses her embarrassment as she thinks "At least we're not Jews."
Like Mr. Sylvan, Christopher Maltman as the Captain exhibits a natural ease in front of the camera, even in his gut wrenching role worried about the fate of his passengers. Another extraordinary performance.
I know this opera continues to be controversial sparking harsh criticism and intolerance, which I find ironic since the heart of the work is about intolerance and the inhumanity we perpetuate upon one other as a result. I've discussed with many chosing to separate themselves from the terrorists but I cannot help but feel that even these most horrible of men are our brothers, we are from the same planet, the same family of man. We humans do terrible things to each other, even to those we purport to love, burying our heads in the sand does nothing to assist in helping resolve that which seems unresolvable. I know I sound hopelessly naive, but I've always had a faith that we won't blow ourselves up, despite what I see around us every day. Adam's opera and Woolcock's film is but a microcosm of that which is far greater than what we see and hear on screen.
Technically, the film is unique, the singers actually singing live on location not lipsynching. This gives a unique, credible quality to the film (and lets you stop worrying about synchronization for once in an opera film). The only non-live singing performance is that of Omar, sung by mezzo, Susan Bickley rather than using a countertenor. His great aria of longing to depart the earth still gives me chills.
This thing will stay with me for a while. I can't recommend highly enough viewing this unique, disturbingly powerful work. Many who have not experienced Klinghoffer, have complained about its being pro-Palestinian. This is something I never feel. The contempt I felt for these terrorists especially Rambo who was not the one to shoot Klinghoffer, is palpable from the way the characters are drawn. Others have stated the work is an insult to the Klinghoffer family - something I don't believe anyone who knows the work can state honestly painting, as it does a picture of a strong, deeply likeable man who's death is nothing less than an atrocity.
I can only agree with the critic at Jewish Film who with both eyes open wrote:
"... the creators were denounced as unabashedly pro-Palestinian for humanizing the terrorists. In actual fact, the libretto gives voice to heartbreaking sufferings by both Israelis and Palestinians. A decade later, in the wake of unrelenting Middle East conflict, many see the oepra's passionate exploration of terrorism from all viewpoints as more important than ever in stimulating dialogue about an intractable situation . . . no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, The Death of Klinghoffer will elicit heated discussion - - and quite possibly, tears."
I urge others to experience this overwhelming achievement for themselves. I can't see how this opera can fail to move anyone who watches this.
Compelling film of a somewhat prophetic opera...
Mr. Matthew J. Williams | Sydney, NSW Australia | 06/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For my money, Adam's political balance in the opera is just right - as evidenced by the controversy and outrage on both sides represented.The film opens with the two 'overtures' of equal length - the chorus of exiled Palestinians and the chorus of exiled Jews (sung perfectly by the LSO chorus). The former is accompanied by haunting footage of the Palestinians being driven from their homes in 1948 to make room for the incoming ex-European Jews. The latter plays over equally haunting holocaust footage. The stage is set, and numerous visual links are created between that introduction and later parts of the opera.I thought Adams' harmonies were compelling and his music has a sense of direction and fragments of melody that belie the 'minimalist' tag he is often lumped with. Christopher Maltman is worthy of special note as a splendid baritone - I'm sure he makes a wonderful lieder singer.This is cinematic opera - not an opera recording - and as such I think it works very well. I was left with no prejudice against either the Arabs or the Jews - more overwhelming sadness and frustration as it brings home something of the depths of the problem. Everyone has been hurt so badly, and the problems have been etched into history so profoundly, how can justice truly be served from here? Claims abound, but genuinely satisfactory solutions do not.A sobering, prophetic film that takes on so many deeper layers of meaning in the light of September 11, 2001. According to the booklet, a performance of the choruses was scheduled in Boston in late 2001 and were cancelled because of sensitivities arising from 9/11. A real shame - perhaps there could scarcely have been a more appropriate reflection for us in the West at that time.As a generous bonus, the DVD includes a 47 minute documentary on the making of this film. The film itself is 119 minutes long.The Film is in 16:9 format; the documentary in 4:3. Soundtrack is in Stereo only for the documentary; alternatives of stereo and Dolby 5.1 surround for the film. There is a director's commentary available over the film, in stereo only.Subtitles are in English; French; German; Italian and Spanish, the opera is sung in English. The documentary is in English and no subtitles are available for it."
Filming an opera - new art form
J. L. Broekhuis-Nehls | Rotterdam, the Netherlands | 02/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderfully moving and impartial (in spite of what some of the other reviewers have said!) human drama. The film shows how the sorrow of the Palestinians and Israelis flows from generation to generation and always results in personal tragedy. All of the terrorists and hostages are personalized and their fear is made real by superb acting and singing to wonderful music. The artificiality of much opera dissolves in the immediacy of the filming, and the result is very direct and moving.
Very valuable on this CD are the extras: a full rerun of the whole opera with the background comments of the director and lead singers, and a talk with the director and John Adams himself, commenting on this new art form. Superb performances by Maltman and Howard."
Focussed, well-paced, and remarkably moving
Alex Knisely | London, UK | 12/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Penny Woolcock's edition of THE DEATH OF KLINGHOFFER trims away some of the contemplative music of John Adams. But you won't feel the loss. Her cuts, and her camerawork, sharpen the urgency of the story and drive it forward. Her selection of locations and her excellent direction of the actor-singers enfolded me in the drama and elucidated story-lines that I had not fully appreciated on listening to the box-set CD before. (The singing itself is very good indeed, as is the acting.) KLINGHOFFER now, seen through Woolcock's work, beautifully conveys the sorrow of hate -- and how seriously mistaken it is to say to oneself, as the passengers setting out on the Achille Lauro might have done if they gave a thought to the misery of the Middle East, "Nothing to do with me." This DVD makes the tragedy of despair, and of wrongdoing (passed along through generations) by Israelis / Jews and Palestinians against one another, somberly and beautifully clear."