Friday, 4 December 2009

Opera and Catholic priests? masterclass in imagery

"Beauty isn't prettiness. It isn't even attractiveness on the surface. If something is truly beautiful, it will attract, out of the viewer, a response, a response of admiration, of generosity, of self giving. If something's merely attractive, it will evoke in a viewer the desire to possess it "Oh I like that, I'll have that"...."This is the true beauty of love, given in its extreme of faithfulness given to the end,...and it has the power to evoke in us the response that I too, will be generous and will give of myself in my life".

Responses that elevate the soul as opposed to responses that merely engage consumer greed. Understanding visual images is an art in itself, and an art that's much misunderstood. Opera is a fundamentally visual experience, even though we've pretty much lost the art of interpreting visual images because most of us learned opera from recordings. Visual images are even trickier to interpret sometimes than musical images because they connect to so many things in ordinary life. So here is a masterclass in the art of visual intelligence. Watch full screen for max effect.

The Sacred Made Real from Catholic Westminster on Vimeo.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols is speaking at the opening of an exhibition at the National Gallery, "The Sacred made Real: Spanish painting and Sculpture 1600-1700) It's a small exhibition, but a case of "less is more". So intense is its impact that it would be counter productive to spread the show too far. In his talk, the Archbishop concentrates on three key pieces. He then "reads" their meaning. Watch the video and listen to how he brings out layers of meaning that might not catch most people. These statues are gruesome, and their extreme hyper-reality makes them hard to take. But there are reasons for that, which the video doesn't go into (it's just a clip) But listen to how he explains how he looks and how he feels.

It's such an unusual subject (especially for reserved English Protestants) that it has inspired some very good writing The Guardian The Times, The Telegraph

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