As the colder weather sneaks up on us, it’s an ideal time to take yourselves off to Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank, the ‘arthouse’ movie theatre. Until next Sunday 15th May there are showings of 11 foreign films as part of the European Film Festival. All, except for the award winning British movie Amy (about the life of Amy Winehouse), are subtitled. There are only 2 showings of each movie so check the programme and the film descriptions http://www.eurofilmfest.co.za/schedule-venues/? There are documentary and feature films many of which have been selected for awards in their home countries so there’s a wide choice of quality productions.
Also showing is Donizetti’s Robert Devereux, the third in the composer’s trilogy of Tudor Queen operas. I had to check who the other Tudor Queens were and, as always, Google came to the rescue:
Donizetti never thought of his three operas about Tudor queens as a trilogy and scarcely anyone else did either until the soprano Beverly Sills sang them at the New York City Opera in the 1970s. Each with a libretto by a different author, they were premiered over a seven-year period (1830-1837) in different Italian theaters, with different singers as the royal protagonists: Giuditta Pasta (“Anna Bolena”), Maria Malibran (“Maria Stuarda” and Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis (Elizabeth I in “Roberto Devereux”). The stories, familiar from both history and literary fabrications, are far apart chronologically. Yet each culminates in an execution — Anne Boleyn’s in 1536 at the behest of her husband, Henry VIII, for, among other things, alleged infidelity; Mary Stuart’s in 1587 because of the threat she posed to Elizabeth I’s rule; and Robert Devereux’s in 1601, for treason. At the heart of each plot are one or more love triangles, whether rooted in reality or invented. [ Loomis, 17 Sept 2013 New York Times]
Sondra Radvanovsky is the first person to repeat Sills’ 1970s challenge of singing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queens in the course of a single season. I recently saw Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly and apart from the extraordinary voices and achingly beautiful sets, the acting was sublime. It’s one of the extraordinary privileges of seeing a film screening of an opera – one can see facial expressions and body language in minute and close-up detail. (What an extra challenge for the performers.) The preview of Robert Devereux gives a taste of Ravanovksy’s extraordinary performance as the ageing Queen: poignant, powerful and tragic. Polenzani, the amazing Elīna Garanča and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien all give superb performances. The last screening is on 19th May so don’t miss it.