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G P Padillo "paolo" (Portland, ME United States)
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Adams - Doctor Atomic (Netherlands Po) [DVD] [2010]
Adams - Doctor Atomic (Netherlands Po) [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Gerald Finley
Price: £29.99

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Adams Creates a 21st Century Masterpiece, 10 Oct 2008
I've held off writing about Dr. Atomic. I've now watched it for the third time and haven't changed my mind. It's a masterpiece. There's no denying some of the power of the score, but it is in the many more introspective moments that I find its most arresting beauty and power.

Gerald Finley - a singer I went nuts for as Papageno nearly 20 years ago, still has a marvelously appealing boyish handsomeness that suits this role to a tee. This could be the role of his career so far. The voice is in absolutely peak condition, one of the most beautiful baritones singing today (in my opinion) with a winning combination of brightness, mellowness, one of the most even-sounding vibratos of any singer today and a light rich quality that simply gleams. His body was made for the stage, moving with a relaxed athleticism, and knows how to strike a pose that hits you like a spotlight. In many regards, his intensity reminds me of another favorite singer of mine, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in that his gestures - while highly theatrical, seem germane, perfectly suited to the character - as though they could not be performed any other way. This is star quality that elevates a performance to greatness.

The most powerful moment for me remains the ending of the first act, Oppenheimer's brilliant prayer/aria "Batter my heart, three person'd God." I cannot watch this without tears pouring from first to last. The music itself is remarkable, but combined with Finley's voice, and passionate interpretation, the heightened sense of movement by Peter Sellars and the staging itself, it becomes nearly unbearable in its intensity and beauty. With the bomb behind a curtain, like some templed sacred object behind a veil, Oppenheimer slowly approaches the veil, then turns and falls, and repeats the a series of gestures, each time with increasing intensity rising, falling, beating his heart with fist, hands to his head, then again approaches the veil. Following the final verse, he enters the veiled room, left in silhouhette, his hand raised towards the object itself. It is one of the most beautifully powerful stagings of an aria I've experienced.

Richard Paul Fink is another of my favorite singers and his beautiful bass sound, remarkable diction and fine dramatic instincts make his portrayal of Teller as important as the central role of Oppenheimer, particularly in the first half. Jessica Rivera is simply amazing as Kitty Oppenheimer, her first aria "Am I in your light," as the couple is in bed, her husband trying to study, offers a stunning contrast to all of the music before it. Oppenheim gives up his reading, and responds to her, climbing over and gently caressing her with stanza from Baudelaire. It is a quiet, intimate and beautiful moment.

Eric Ownes offers a richly detailed, entirely believable performance as General Groves, expressing his frustrations, concerns, detailing his weight issues (complete with calorie counts!) in that gorgeous, sonorous baritone of his.

The remainder of the cast, James Maddalena, Thomas Glenn, Jay Hunter Morris, and particularly the oddly moving performance of Ellen Rabiner as Pasqualita, are all up to the same level as the central roles.

I have some issues with the staging, and could have easily been happier if Lucinda Childs' incessant choreography had but cut - by at least half. Some of it is highly effective, such as the angular, ritualistic movement out in the desert, but much of it appeared as though a rehearsal for the Jets and Sharks were taking place at the rear of the stage while an opera was going on.

The chorus of De Nederlandse Opera sings English about as well as any English speaking chorus, and the musical direction of Lawrence Renes with the Netherlands Philharmonic rises to the level of Adams' remarkable score.

If I've any gripe (outside of the unnecessary choreography) it would be one I've made of many live performance videos: no curtain calls or opportunity to see - and share in - the audience's reaction. This is a bad move in my opinion. I understand by the end of viewing this how emotionally drained a viewer can be - I was exhausted - but there were several thousand people cheering this and, apparently, an enormous ovation for the performers. I find it a bit rude as well not to allow these people who'd offered these intense, blazing performances for three hours of a difficult score, the opportunity to take a bow in our respective living rooms.

There are a bunch of extra features, mini documentaries, and interviews that make this an exceptional DVD purchase for anyone interested in the future of opera. A truly overwhelming operatic experience
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2009 11:23 AM GMT


Maazel - 1984 / Keenlyside, Lepage (Royal Opera House) [DVD] [2008]
Maazel - 1984 / Keenlyside, Lepage (Royal Opera House) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Simon Keenlyside
Price: £14.99

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simon Sez: Watch 1984!, 10 Oct 2008
"Maazel has perpetuated a fraud" . . . "a slick perversion of Orwell by the super rich Maazel who bought his way to [Covent Garden]" . . . "Keenlyside (Smith) and Gustavson (Julia) fail to relate" . . . "Maazel sucks the life and irony out of Orwell" . . . "Why this tripe has been given airtime at Covent Garden . . . is a mystery"

These and more like it were all that I read following the premiere of Maazel's opera. It seemed as though every critic attempted to outdo the next in finding witty words to tell us what a piece of crap this "non-opera" was. Still, with its brilliant cast, the direction of theatrical wizard Robert Lepage, and one of my favorite stories (that I and a friend/fellow student attempted to musicalize at theatre school) I've been waiting - admittedly anxiously - to see what inspired all this venomous writing. To my surprise I found a profoundly moving, if seriously flawed work of musical theatre populated by a cast who seemed to believe in the project and conducted with near abandon, passionately by its creator.

Maazel's score certainly has its low points: an annoying tendency to repeat the final word or syllable of a sentence or phrase wears thin and has little dramatic or musical purpose; a rambling of styles that recall (instantly) Bernstein, Sondheim, Weill, Barber and most of all, Britten (not in and of itself a bad thing); some less-than-inspired music when the words could have been effectively declaimed/spoken (especially since there is spoken dialogue present anyway) and other things that seem obvious or in need of rethinking. Nonetheless, these flaws (at least in my opinion) fall by the wayside when placed alongside what DOES work, and of that there is plenty.

Simon Keenlyside's Winston Smith ranks among the most intense, perfect (and insanely physical) creations of any character I've witnessed created for the stage. The dramatic arc as Winston - beginning as frightened, angry and hopeless drone, to thinker, dreamer, lover - before being utterly destroyed and thus, assimilated properly into Orwell's hell on earth, is as devastating as anything I've witnessed. Musically, this may not be Wozzeck (what possibly could be?) but Keenlyside makes him, perhaps, Wozzeck's brother . . . or worse, his son. Maazel seems to play with this theme and one cannot help (particularly in the third act) feel a strong bond between Berg's and Maazel's antiheroes as they're emotionally stretched beyond the breaking point. Indeed, throughout Keenlyside is nothing short of magnificent and, as difficult to watch as his torture scene in the Examination Room is, it barely prepares us for the horrors yet to follow in Room 101. Simon gives us EVERYTHING in Winston, and by the third act I forgot I was watching an opera - or indeed any sort of theatrical production at all - as he cries, sputters, vomits water, turns his contorted torso at wildly impossible angles during his break down. But
it isn't all just "acrobatic theatrics" - Maazel gives Winston a big aria here, and composer and singer each know how to put this across in a way that had me in chills and tears. (Watching from my sofa, I managed to squeeze a king sized pillow into something nearly asprin sized.)

In similar fashion, Nancy Gustavson gives it her all in a thoroughly believable portrayal of Julia. The change in her character from cold, feelingless drone to the woman who leads Winston to a realm of love and hope, almost made me believe the story could turn another way. Even the filmed image of her dancing in a golden field projected as Winston dreams (following his torture) makes you believe in their despairing hope.

The love scene - interrupted by another chilling scene with Richard Margison's sensational O'Brien - returns and extends finding the couple taking flight to near ecstasy before their true hell begins. Here, Maazel gives them (and us) music that soars passionately - sweeps elegantly and rises away from the din of this oppressive world of Big Brother. It's really rather good music here!

Diana Damrau does double duty (are there enough D's in that phrase?) as a charmless, near robotic Gym Instructor, then returning in the final act as a rotten-toothed drunken hag of a whore who elicits both pity and disgust, as in remarkably clear English she sings at the top of her range, trilling through coloratura flights of fancy that feel remarkably right.

Lawrence Brownlee was a pleasant surprise as Syme, his elegant, gorgeously toned tenor also pushed to the top of his range - but always free and ringing - his voice lighting up the stage. The duplicity of his words in praise of "newspeak" and that sunny voice, one of the true highlights of the first act.

Richard Margison was another surprise. I don't always care for this singer in the big romantic leading roles - he just sounds and looks uncomfortable and unconvincing so often, but here he is lithe, sinister, duplicitous and sings with abandon and elegance all at once. It is a terrific performance.

There are moments like the anthem-like Hymn to Oceania (a hilariously touching sendup of nearly the modern national anthem), the blues numbers, the children's music, the Barbershop-type jazz men's quartet, all were moments the critics said dragged this down to "Broadway Musical" levels, but I felt were not only well crafted, but correct and persuasive in each of the spots where they occur.

I know no one wants to believe in an ovation as an indicator of a work's worth, but the audience goes crazy at the conclusion. Perhaps they were just a bunch of proles, like me, easily entertained and worthy of being summarily dismissed by our wise critics who despised the thing.
Robert Lepage continually amazes me in everything he puts his hands on and this is no exception. He's already well on his way to becoming one of the most original thinking designers/directors in 21st century opera production. Watching his incredibly detailed direction - and these magnificent sets, only continues to whet my appetite for what he will bring to the Met's new Ring Cycle. I can hardly wait!

So, while admittedly "imperfect," Maestro Maazel's opera entertained me, moved me, brought out the tears and chills and made me feel the three hours were worth the investment. I'd call that a success and I look forward to watching this again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2014 7:48 AM GMT


Tosca: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Chailly) [DVD] [2007]
Tosca: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Chailly) [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Nikolaus Lehnhoff
Price: £12.89

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blistering, Scorching Tosca, 14 July 2008
First off, Lehnhoff's production is going to seriously piss some people off but it is singularly one of themost exciting performances of Tosca I can recall seeing in years. Lehnhoffhas taken Puccini's "shabby little shocker" and done what many of us have been eternally waiting for - putting it over the top, right where it belongs. He has stripped the tale of its ornate baroque trappings and set it in what appears to be hell. For those who want read only about the musical performance - jump about half a dozen paragraphs.

Act 1's church is an enormous cavernous, foreboding place. Cavarodossi's Magdalene painting absolutely gargantuan on a highly raised platform that dominates the rear of the stage. Instead of rococo pillar and posts, the stage floor is filled with countless metal and glass columns a mite taller than your average man. These columns provide incredible playing areas turning the enormous stage into a series of more intimate settings that work magnificently. During the Te Deum, Scarpia alone is on stage before a painting of the devil and at each cannon burst during this the tops of the columns erupt into flame - the cameras catching Scarpia's malevolent sneer, the flames leaping up towards him. It is one of the most exciting images I've ever seen. And there were more of these to come.

Scarpia's apartment is of the industrial-strength variety. A massively long two prong staircase dominates the rear stage wall the massive walls go seemingly all the way to the fly space of the opera house. Stage right's wall is dominated by an enormous turbine which, along with the stairs charges the atmosphere with an ominous subterranean feeling. This is not a fun place. At curtain's rise Big Bad Scarpia is on an eight foot long divan, in tight silk lounge pants with a lizard/snakeskin motif and matching sleeveless vest (my Mom had something similar in the 70's . . . Hostess Pants). He is stroking a beautiful yellow tabby. Cool.

When Tosca first appears, all we see are her red high heels coming down the first staircase - shoes she will remove before reclining on the divan for Scarpia to collect his prize. Only after the murder do we realize the massive staircases have disappeared and we feel, along with Tosca completely trapped. There are no other doors - the room converted into an enormous death trap, the only air seemingly coming from the turbine. Tosca goes into a genuine panic during the dumb show - now stripped/relieved of the pseudo- religious crucifix/candelabra business. In her search for the safe passage conduct, Tosca discovers and takes a gun - almost hinting at suicide in her terror. When a panel opens moonlight seems to stream in revealing a hidden exit. With pistol in hand and tea-length fur coat dragging behind . . . It is thrilling business.

The final act is on an enormous stage filling disc, the floor of which is covered by the shadow of light pouring down from the turbine - which is now in the ceiling. The rear of the stage gives the feeling of being at the edge of the world - with the moon and stars reflecting in the night. It's stunning and chilling all at once.

After the execution, the distraught, now fully deranged Tosca holds Scarpia's henchmen at bay waving the gun - and one almost senses she's going to blow her brains out . . . but instead she runs, flings it to the ground and takes a flying leap out the heavens that took my breath away - her hair wildly trailing behind her as Sciarrone and Spoletta hit the ground to safely watch her from above.

I have read some startling bad reviews of this production, and I simply cannot fathom how anyone would not be wowed by it. It is an absolutely chilling performance.

Now to the cast. Malfitano is Tosca to the teeth. Not your average Tosca, this one is neurotic and obsessive from her first appearance. In the final act she is barefoot and costumed like a Martha Graham dancer. Indeed, Malfitano never stops moving - her body, her hair all fluid movement - almost hallucinatory. It's a marvelous performance. The down side is that the voice was never built for Tosca. So much of the musical drama sits at either end of the range - really low lows, and pretty high highs. At both ends Malfitano's instrument simply lacks body and beauty. To her credit she insists on singing every note, but the low "chesty" business that so many singers make thrilling, are here unlovely and growled and at times barely audible. The less said about the inaccurate pitching at the top of the range the better. Still MUCH of Tosca lies in the middle to middle high and here, Malfitano still possesses a voice of bright, unforced lyric beauty. If this is going to bother you, you should skip it, but if you want a performance that is 75% really good singing and 100% committed acting, Malfitano's your gal. I loved her.

In Act II, I kept thinking Theda Bara had been reincarnated - Malfitano HAS to know this and have played on the similarities. She looks terrific (some complain that even 10 years ago she looked too old for Tosca . . . nonsense). Her "Vissi d'arte " is exceptionally powerful - revealing more than a dozen other Tosca's combined. Her Act III performance is pure over-the-top, flitting and dancing and laughing - a mad scene, really and believe it or not, it works perfectly in this context. I always thought Behrens had the best flying leap of any Tosca - but Cathy M. goes her one better - it is and it's captured with breathtaking, horrifying beauty.

Richard Margison. I've never been a big fan of the man, but having read so many negatives about his Cavaradossi I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. He's involved and engaging, and I bought what he brought to the role. Recondita Armonia is beautifully sung if a little inelegantly phrased at times. The central act he rings out passionately. Oddly "E lucevan la stele" is sung accurately, but with an odd tone that sounds more furious than forlorn.When Tosca arrives, Margison's Mario sounds much better, caressing the line and believable in the drama. Yes, he's got a big gut . . . so what? I was surprised at the depth of some of his acting here, and confused by those who accuse him of just walking through the role. Nope.

The night, of course belonged to Terfel in this, his first assumption of Scarpia. Some may not like him, but this is the Scarpia of my dreams in every way. Larger than life, Terfel's voice rings out with a liquidity one seldom hears in this role anymore. There is a "wetness" to his sound that reminds me of Elisabeth Soderstrom (if you know what I mean). Physically, Terfel exudes a creepy sensuality that feels almost x-rated. Everything seems to revolve around sex, evil and cruelty. The ending of the first act with the Te Deum sung so rapturously, flames licking up as this devil holds the stage by himself is a theatrical tour de force. Poured into his lizard lounge pants he amps up the carnality and when he stalks Tosca up the stairs I truly sensed danger as the hair rose on the back of my neck. This Scarpia has everything planned and intricately ordered - seemingly controlling the very universe from his bunker- like world. For a clue to his sense of order in this nightmare watch him polish a glass before he pours that "vin d'espagna."

The Welshman performs this role as though he were born to play it - and I think he was. How exciting it is to see this different approach to one of opera's greatest roles and Terfel rises to the challenges imposed by Puccini and Lehnhoff, looking not just comfortable but entirely natural and believable every sick step of the way.

Riccardo Chailly has no less than the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as the pit band and the score has rarely sounded this lush and symphonic. Chailly brings out details frequently lost in other performances, his pacing is fluid and at times much slower than I am used to hearing in modern performances, but never indulgent. The sound on the DVD is almost more "studio" than live performance and this is enhanced by the silence of the audience until the very end when they go properly mad. So did I.

There is an interesting 17 minute behind the scenes documentary with some cast interviews and Lehnhoff and Chailly offering up their opinions.

I've heard the evil "E" word hurled at this production, and indeed some may find they simply cannot tolerate the changes of settings, but for anyone who can keep an open mind about these sorts of things - hang on tight 'cause you're in for a hair raising ride!

This gets FIVE stars because everything here truly adds up to a spectacular performance of Puccini's ultimate pot boiler
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2010 9:54 AM GMT


Jessye Norman - A Portrait [DVD] [2008]
Jessye Norman - A Portrait [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Andre Heller
Price: £13.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brava, Jessye, Brava!, 9 May 2008
For fans of Jessye Norman this is a must have. While it's a "documentary" - it's not quite the in-depth, probing, revelation or examination of the singer I was hoping for, but rather a series of conversations on topics ranging from childhood, spiritual beliefs, politics, dedication to her art, early career dealing with loneliness, and the like. Little of it plumbs the depth of the woman or of her art, (how could 90 minutes do that?) but once I settled in, I found myself smiling, happy to have this force of nature sitting in my living room and talking casually about a thousand things.

Jessye speaks mostly in English - but since this was a German production, she moves back and forth between German and English - sometimes in the middle of a sentence, or thought.

The film is broken up by a dozen music videos with Norman lip-synching to some of her more remarkable recordings. While I know some shall be put off by this sort of thing, I adored it. Each video is performed as part of an art installation, the singer gowned and jeweled, in headdresses, turbans, wild wigs and haute couture, moving, expressing herself physically to her own recordings. Some will dismiss this as artifice, but - and I mean this as a compliment - few in history (and no one I can think of) does artifice come so naturally to as it does Jessye Norman. She makes me believe every breath, every moment - she creates a world that seems, somehow, better than it is - or maybe, just maybe, it really is as great as she makes it, if even for only the brief moments that she's in it with me, making me forget the rest.

There are touching, moving reminisces of her childhood. One in particular, where as a child, her mother worked for the Democratic party registering voters, and young Jessye assisted her. At certain times, Mrs. Norman would ask her daughter to leave the table they were working at. It wasn't until after college Jessye asked her mother why. It was because certain members of their congregation and community could neither read nor write and had to sign only with an "x" and her mother didn't want her daugther to see or know that about these friends. It was one of those "lump in my throat" moments.

Norman talks about wanting to understand why racisim exists; why governments are more interested in the sexuality of its citizens, than more important matters, why can't we live and let live? "I want to know. It could be that only God can answer such a question."

"A society is responsible for helping people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps - but's let's make sure that they are wearing boots!"

The music, coming as it does from some of her legendary recordings - is breathtaking - sometimes literally! A video ot "Erlkoenig" opens the "recital" portions and it is stunning mini film in and of itself. I can probably list a dozen favorite recordings of this song: Jessye's is at the top of that list.

I can think of few better ways to relax and escape "the real world" for 90 minutes than to bask in the glow of Jessye Norman.

Brava, Jessye!

p.


Landi: Sant' Alessio [DVD] [2008]
Landi: Sant' Alessio [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Philippe Jaroussky
Price: £11.63

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 'n Beautiful, 24 April 2008
Rarely have I waited so anxiously the arrival of any opera on DVD. Through the wonders of technology I watched this performance performance from the Théâtre de Caen live from my home in Portland, Maine.

Beginning with an absolutely gorgeous Sinfonia and flowing through three powerful, entertaining thought provoking and often moving acts, I can't imagine this opera not capturing both the attention and heart of baroque music lovers and opera fans, at least some opera fans!).

I have been a fan of Philippe Jaroussky since his bursting onto the baroque scene a few years ago, yet somehow this was my first opportunity to experience him in a complete role. Sold. We're seeing a differentiation between male treble singers these days: For instance in comparing the sound of David Daniels to Jaroussky, I would think Daniels to be something akin to a "heldencountertenor" - while Jaroussky's is naturally higher lying, with a more feminine and sweeter presence to it. In this very authentic looking stylized era (and Noh) inspired production, young Mr. Jaroussky's movements, facial expressions, and voice all coalesce into a powerful, genuinely moving portrayal of Alessio. I was particularly touched by the big Act I scene "under the stairs" of his father's home. Watching Jaroussky's arm movements one can't help draw the conclusion he'd watched a lot of Kathleen Battle and Maria Callas videos for he has the business down quite effectively. Some may find it artificial but "art" is part of "artificial, and I, for one, loved it.

Musically, one needs hear only a little bit of his music to realize Landi - was a contemporary of Monteverdi. I have to wonder, therefore, was the older composer (Monteverdi) familiar with Landi's "Alessio" as the scene between Ulisse and his son Telemaco bears a strong musical and dramatic parallel to Landi's scene between Alessio and his father, Euphemianus, composed at least ten years before Ulisse.

In the aforementioned scene Alain Buet's as Euphemianus is vocally a tad on the dry side, yet through phrasing and mastery of the style brings a formidable, strong reading and characterization.

The brilliance of Landi's creation (aside from the mouthwateringly beautiful score) is his pacing of dramatic scenes. The aforementioned scene of Alessio's "revelation" - a moving, deep contemplation/epiphany of being earthbound while desirous of heavenly flight, is immediately followed by two vain dandy-ish characters of the commedia del' arte type. They deliver a bawdy, delightful ditty about the joys of sloth-like behaviour moving on to torment the poor, dour Alessio. At one point they even sing nonsense syllables in such a happy refrain that I nearly joined in.

It was fascinating to experience an all male opera that isn't Billy Budd - especially one that has the then traditional gender-bending spectacle of males singing the parts of women. While I've seen this "experiment" in Shakespearean theatre, I've never seen "serious" operatic roles done in this manner, usually falling more into the Arnalta ("Poppea") type of slapstick "I'm a big man playin' a lady" played with a rather broad (pardon the pun) humor. There is an ensemble with the ladies in Alessio's life: wife, mother and nurse that is one of the most beautiful "stand out" moments of the entire opera. I rewound and played that number, again, shaking my head at the sheer beauty,
the depth of emotion with which Landi infused this moment. Additionally, their voices fuse gloriously - with an odd matching up of virbratos which has a power all its own. .

Landi gives the chorus glorious music and Christy's "minstrels" launch into it with a sense of elation and joy. The choral music is unique here in this style of music and at one point reminded me of Peter Grimes, Turandot or Porgy and Bess, so important and integral are they to the goings on. I loved the madrigal-like aspect of some of the writing for them, the raucous circus/carnival act ending dance (beautifully sans voices) as the stage is flooded in a riotous eruption of joyous emotion.

William Christie and his band give a predictably brilliant and buoyant reading of the score, elegant when necessary and "down and dirty" in its bawdier moments. Benjamin Lazar's actual-era inspired physical production matched the musical qualities of the opera note-for-note, right down to having the set lit by candles - a very warming and welcoming touch.

How wonderful to be living in these often depressing times, and witness the rediscovery of brilliant works of art! I am ever grateful for the work Bill Christie is doing to unearth, promote and help revitalize our musical culture.

Bravo to everyone involved in this very special project and I hope it inspires more audiences, more musicians, and more good will - this DVD should prove as good a starting point as any! Bravissimo!


Rufus Wainwright - All I Want [DVD] [2005]
Rufus Wainwright - All I Want [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Rufus Wainwright
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.03

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rufus Unmasked, 20 Sep 2005
Last night when I got home waiting for me was the DVD "All I Want." I intended to catch just a few minutes of it and instead spent the next several hours viewing it.
The disc features a documentary made for British television which really is terrific. It consists mostly of interviews with Rufus, sister Martha, Mom Kate, Elton John, a couple of friends and various producers who've worked on the various Wainwright projects. Rufus and company are very open about his life, childhood, drug abuse, musical inspirations, relationship with his father, etc. It is, of course, punctuated with lots of music, mostly live performances.
There are numerous bonus features, additional interviews not used in the final cut of the documentary, a handful of music videos, extensive concert footage from various shows, recording studio takes, etc. One particularly lovely song features Rufus in a concert in Montreal accompanied by the McGarrigle Sisters - mom, Kate at the piano (who wrote the song) and Aunt Anna singing harmony. It's really something special and sends the Montreal audience into a roar.
A favorite live clip is of a flamboyantly costumed Rufus (as well as the entire band) performing "What a World" which of course opens with tubas and segues into it's main accompaniment, Ravel's Bolero with a boldness and an audicity that is guaranteed to bring a huge smile.
For those of us who love opera AND Rufus - there is one wondrously hilarious video of the song "April Fools," which begins with Rufus waking up in bed (simultaneously) with Carmen, Tosca (a deadly serious Maria Callas clone), Gilda, Cio-Cio San (played by sister Martha), and Mimi who join him at the piano, scores in hand, and sing backup. Together they run through Hollywood each heroine eventually expiring according to her respective libretto. It is, like the boy himself, utterly charming.
I can't recommend this enough - it's priced right, and is a great introduction to anyone wondering what all the fuss is about.


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