Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chaliapin Don Quixote Pabst movie download

Feodor Chaliapin, the great Russian bass, starring in a comedy made by G W Pabst ? Yes! In 1933, even the biggest names in opera had no hang-ups about crossing genres. In this film, Chaliapin hams with great gusto. The voice that sings immortal Gudonovs, Mefistofeles and Volga Boatmen sings "I, Don Quixote". He did sing Massenet's Don Quixote, but this is different.

The song is utter tosh, but Chaliapin revels in the corny text, camping up the flourishes, striking exaggerated operatic poses, his arms akimbo. Later, he sings "This castle mine", delighting in the mock Spanishisms in the music. His accent is atrocious, so you can't hear most of the words, but it hardly matters. Chaliapin "is" Don Quixote par excellence, capturing the craziness in the role. Look how his beard sticks out horizontally ! Even his tall, gangly frame lends itself to strange angles which Pabst films with great style.  Cervantes meets Expressionism!

Sancho Panza is played by George Robey, a British music hall entertainer, who is a perfect foil for Chaliapin's Don Quixote. Robey sings Sancho Panza's songs with an accent as Cockney as Chaliapin's is Russian. Pabst plays with body form throughout the film, employing a large number of dwarves, and using costumes designed to suggest geometric shapes. Dulcinéé appears in the film as love interest. She's movie star pretty but wears a skirt that looks like a barrel. Spoken dialogue is also delivered with histrionic exaggeration. The scene where Don Quixote charges at the windmill is delightfully shot - crazy diagonals and spinning circles. Chaliapin was too precious to risk falling from the sails of the windmill. They must have used a stuntman. Listen out for the very final song, "Sancho, my friend". Chaliapin strings out the words, and his vibrato wobbles madly off the  scale. His voice switches from rumbling bass to a sudden bizarre high note you'd hardly believe he had, then he reverts to a growl which becomes a howl. He is an artist, but one who can send himself up.

Three of the songs were written by Maurice Ravel and the incidental music is by Jacques Ibert. There's a fanfare where mock medieval trumpets blare wilfully out of tune.  Apparently, Ravel, de Falla, Delannoy and Darius Milhaud were also commissioned to write scores, but I don't know what happened to their music. Lots more on Weimar era film, more on Pabst and more downloads. Please search this site, there's plenty here.HERE is a link to "Forbidden Music", another rare film with Richard Tauber and Jimmy Durante, of all people. It's kitsch, but with darker undercurrents.

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