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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Oscar for Best Actress21 Aug. 2008
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If ever a film of an opera is considered for an Oscar, this electrifying production of "Julie", a chamber opera by Philippe Boesmans staged by Luc Bondy at the Festival Aix-en-Provence, should walk off with at least five statuettes: best actress, best actor, best supporting actress, best script adaptation, and of course best original musical score. Based on the classic play 'Miss Julie' by August Strindberg, Boesmans' libretto is a spare adaption of the original drama of class conflict played out in the sexual bodies of the daughter and the valet of a Swedish Count who never appears on stage. Wisely, the drama is NOT staged in modern times but rather in its proper 19th C ambience, yet the music and the theatricality are ultra "present." The whole story takes place in the kitchen of the Count's estate, with only three characters: Julie, the valet Jean, and the sweet-innocent cook Kristin. The production is movie length, a mere 74 minutes, scarcely a Wagnerian endurance event.
It's hard to imagine this drama without Swedish soprano Malena Ernman in the title role. Ernman not only delivers the most impressive singing but she inhabits the role of Miss Julie so convincingly, even in close-ups, that I'm sure she could have a first-rank Hollywood career if she so chose. Garry Magee is equally effective as the lady-killer valet, the character least able to escape his class consciousness; he both sings and looks his part. Kerstin Avemo sings some of the most powerful music in her role as the betrayed fiancee/cook; she also nails her role visually.
This is a wrenching tragedy, not a romp in the gardens of aristocratic nostalgia. Though it is a period piece in very way, it is also a contemporary psychological drama, reminiscent of Eugene O'Neil or Tennessee Williams at their best. Not a line or a scene is wasted; seldom has an opera succeeded so well as a play.
With such potent emotionalism on stage, one might hardly focus on Boesmans' music. It certainly fulfills the aspirations of the earliest opera composers like Claudio Monteverdi, who hoped to put their musical art at the service of their emotive language. Like the most brilliant film score, Boesman's music exists as the sustaining nutrient medium of the drama, always nourishing the most affective expressions of words and gestures.
I bought this DVD merely out of admiration for the singing of Malena Ernman. I got way more than I paid for. I look forward enthusiastically to hearing and seeing more from composer Philippe Boesmans!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mmm...17 April 2011
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Disappointed. I expected much more. I read the story, it is amazing, I like the writer. I don't bother the lack of tones, i am a dodecaphonic music lover, but this is extreme. It is not worth. I am getting old fashion...maybe? Martin