Christian Chaudet’s film of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol started life as a 1999 studio sound recording of the piece conducted by James Conlon. Chaudet became somewhat obsessed with the recording and decided to turn it into a film, recruiting the original singers as part of the project. It’s an ambitious film which mixes live action, animation and a series of special effects to create something really rather weird and wonderful. It frames the Hans Christian Anderson tale in a modern setting involving a mobile phone, a weird internet cafe and a reality talent show. He throws in some Gilliamesque animation and a live nightingale for good measure.
The first time I tried to watch Willy Decker’s 2004 production of Verdi’s Don Carlo at De Nederlandse Opera I failed to get past Rolando Villazón in doublet and hose. To anyone familiar with British TV comedy of a certain era the resemblance is just too close and I couldn’t get beyond the idea of Stephen Fry as Felipe II and Miranda Richardson as Elisabetta. This time around I watched the highly illuminating video introduction and read Wily Decker’s useful essay on his production concept before tackling the piece proper. I’m glad I did that and I’m glad I came back to this recording because it is very fine and it was very useful to have Decker and Chailly’s perspectives on the dramaturgy and the music.