Later this month there is an Ingrid Bergman retrospective at TIFF Cinematheque to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth. There is one (vaguely) opera related film in the offering; Gaslight, a 1944 thriller directed by George Cukor about the niece of a murdered opera singer, Alice Alquist. The girl aspires to an operatic career too and we do see Bergman practicing an aria from Lucia di Lammermoor. However the main plot turns on the Bergman character (Paula) marrying and returning to her aunt’s house in London where she is subjected to attempts by her husband to drive her mad to get possession of the house where he hopes to find the jewels he murdered Paula’s aunt for in the first place. The denouement is precipitated by a young Scotland Yard operative who, as a small boy, was given a glove worn by Alice as Juliette and signed by Gounod. Continue reading
Despite having seen many Magic Flutes and pretty much every Bergman movie it’s only now that I’ve got around to watching his famous film of the Mozart opera, or rather Bergman’s version of the opera, because it differs in important ways from Shikaneder’s libretto. The basic concept is that Pamina is Sarastro’s daughter, who he has removed from the evil influence of her mother. He intends Pamina to inherit his kingdom and leadership of the Brotherhood but only after he’s found a suitable chap to keep her out of trouble which is, of course, where Tamino comes in. So whatever else has changed, the misogyny is intact. There are other changes too. Monostatos is almost written out of the script and a good deal of dialogue is changed or omitted, as are some musical numbers. The whole thing comes in at 135 minutes so maybe 30 minutes of material have been cut. None of this seems very radical today but must have raised a few eyebrows in 1975.