Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|LSU Opera Presents Carlisle Floyd's Willie Stark|
Actor: Dennis Jesse
Directors: Carlisle Floyd, John Keene, Dugg McDonough
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
Power, passion, and politics collide in Carlisle Floyd's dynamic setting of All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren's classic story of ambition, betrayal, and violent tragedy. In Floyd's immediately engaging and beautifully... more »
Article from the Baton Rouge Advocate By MICHAEL FARRAR
Lawrence J. Kraman | Newport, RI USA | 05/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By MICHAEL FARRAR
Special to 2theadvocate.com
Published: May 15, 2008
"Willie Stark" is an Earth-scorching opera that grabs your ears and eyes as it connects to Huey Long's mysterious and lasting legacy in a high-definition DVD format.
Gov. Long's life was indeed packed with political and personal drama that included battling giant companies in court cases, career-making power grabs, alleged kickbacks, blistering speeches and outright threats of almost anyone who dared to tangle with the Kingfish.
Such a tale of power brokering has obvious operatic themes that also translates to hard-hitting drama as seen on cop shows, said director Larry Kraman, who borrowed some TV production techniques to put the opera on DVD.
"I wanted to bring a little bit of `Law & Order' immediacy and handheld camera work to this piece to make it more interesting for people who watch these things on TV and in the theaters," Kraman said. "It makes you feel like you are in the action."
When LSU Opera first put "Willie Stark" on their schedule, they were only considering making an audio recording for CD.
"Then we had conversations and meetings with Larry Kraman of Newport Classics who urged us to go in the direction of DVD instead of CD," McDonough, artistic director of LSU Opera, explained.
While McDonough worked out the live production (performers, costumes, sets, lighting, etc.), Kraman ran a high definition camera crew for the DVD project.
Kraman was very impressed with the LSU Opera's stage presentation.
"When I went down to LSU and actually started to see the production, I was blown away by the quality of the work, by the expertness of the direction of Dugg McDonough, which was just, I think, extraordinary. He directed it like it was a movie, so filming it became really easy."
However, long before, the LSU Opera mounted "Willie Stark," there were several entertaining tales of Gov. Long, a man who made it big with some questionable methods.
Long's razor-sharp charisma made him a hero to working folks as he attacked political rivals and big business. This fascinating mix inspired former LSU professor Robert Penn Warren to write the fictional book, "All the King's Men," which quickly became a best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize.
Long's spirited legend as interpreted by the book was brought to the movie screens twice. The first film version of the novel won an Academy Award for picture of the year in 1949. Then, in 2006, cameras rolled again as movie stars Sean Penn and Jude Law arrived in Baton Rouge for a second film version of "All the King's Men."
With that said, not every adaptation of the novel was well-received. Composer Carlisle Floyd, ruffled quite a few operatic feathers when "Willie Stark" first opened at the Houston Grand Opera in 1981.
Hal Prince, a Broadway theater legend, was tapped to direct this world premier opera. Hard core opera lovers openly criticized the show's musical and staging elements. which seemed to be borrowed from Broadway.
However, since that 1981 controversy, Broadway and film directors have succeeded in directing operas. This trend includes Julie Taymor, who directed the Metropolitan Opera's "The Magic Flute" and "Grendel" for Los Angeles Opera. Taymor had directed Broadway shows including "The Lion King", as well as directing the films "Frida" and "Across the Universe."
McDonough knew the direct link "Willie Stark" has to Huey Long's legend would make it a hot ticket that would reach a new audience.
"I personally think it's a terrific opera for people to see who are not regular opera-goers, because it has such a strong dramatic story," McDonough said.
The 2008 DVD of "Willie Stark" was produced in high definition video so the visual resolution and sound quality is in the higher 21st century digital realm. The DVD will be released on May 20, however, Louisiana Public Television is scheduled to broadcast it on June 4 at 8 p.m."