Friday, 16 October 2009

Ravel L'heure Espagnole in German full movie

Today, before the official opening night of the Royal Opera House double bill (Gianni Schicchi and L'heure Espagnole) there's a special matinee for schoolkids. A wonderful idea, because getting kids interested builds the audience for the future. Even though kids as young as 2 or 3 can mouth things adults tell them, in general kids have open minds, so the wonder of opera will open ears and eyes. These two operas are ideal because they're fun and immediate so language is no barrier.

So here's Ravel's L'heure Espagnole auf Deutsch from the 1960's though the black and white filming and style makes it look much older. But that's OK, for the plot could happen as easily in pre modern Germany. Ravel's Spain is a Spain of the mind. OCD fetishists like Torquemada exist in all places, all times, as do women like Concepcion. Indeed, it's surprisng how "modern" she is, a woman who turns the tables on her situation and uses men as objects just as her husband prefers objects to people. Hopefully this will not be lost on the kids. Drama is universal whatever the props.

Mimi Coertse is South African, she's still around and well, though the film makes her look like she was born in 1832 not 1932. In fact these days she does lots of youth work, so she'd probably be delighted about the ROH youth matinee. Although I've only uploaded part one of the opera, follow the rest of it by clicking on the pictures at the end. German changes some of the syntax, but it makes the opera feel like part of a wider tradition of comic opera and operetta. Up til around the 1920's it wasn't so uncommon to hear singers singing in whatever language they felt best, so you'd hear operas in several different languages - anathema today but accepted then. Should that tradition be reimposed ?

Interesting too, how Ravel's obsessively rhythmic style picks up on the clocks and Torquemada's personality, rigidity versus release. Last night on BBC Radio 3 they broadcast Wozzeck right after the feature on L'heure Espagnole, so hearing Ravel in German makes the parallels even closer.

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