Sky Arts, ENO Court Opera-Goers of Tomorrow
Hoping to win new ears for high culture, the English National Opera and Sky Arts enlisted three well-known directors to jazz up some arias.
Werner Herzog, who immortalized himself in our minds as the Grizzly Man director (he also did a Loch Ness mockumentary we really liked), framed O Soave Fanciulla ("Oh you vision of beauty") from Puccini's La Boheme against provocative snapshots of an African society. We like how everyone looks sharp-hued and defiant.
Sam Taylor-Wood took opera out of its elaborate fixin's, set it on an impoverished improv set and expressed Leoncavallo's Vesti la Giubba ("On with the greasepaint") from the mouth of a clown. We're sure Fellini would've been pleased.
Our favourite was Dougal Wilson's interpretation of Largo al Factotum ("Here at your service to do or die"), from Rossini's Barber of Seville. In this Chaplinesque production, a barber's assistant wages war against clumps of hair he's supposed to be sweeping off the floor.
Very Magician's Apprentice, except more funny than stressful. (We always sort of panic when Mickey Mouse gives life to the first broom.)
Wilson confessed he's "always wanted to try making a music video for a piece of classical music," explaining:
"Classical and opera music don't have the same structure that most pop songs have - it's usually more of a story, with twists and turns, and changing tempo. It invites an idea which is like a story, but also has to work with sound, which I thought would be really fun to try."
The shorts will air on Sky Arts, Sky Arts HD and Sky Anytime through February, under the title Opera Shorts: Behind the Scenes. We look forward to watching. More info at the Sky Arts website.