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Films of Operas

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We are often asked what would be a good film for children to watch. Here are a few of our suggestions:

The Magic Flute

A 2006 film by Kenneth Branagh, made to for the 250th anniversary celebration of Mozart's birthday - a co-production that involved the Peter Moores Foundation. The story, which has been updated to a World War I setting, follows the structure of the original opera libretto very closely while stripping away all the Freemasonry references, and all of Mozart's music for the opera is retained in the film. Tamino is still sent by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina after Sarastro has apparently kidnapped her, as in the original. His sidekick is still the comical Papageno, a birdcatcher in the original opera, but a man who uses underground pigeons to check for poison gas in the Branagh film. Sarastro in this version is a man in charge of a field hospital, not a high priest, and his ultimate wish is world peace, not simply the triumph of good over evil. The "water trial" that Tamino must endure occurs when the trench that he and Pamina are in becomes flooded, and the trial of fire is a walk through a battlefield in which bombs are constantly exploding.

Have a look in the children’s section of this website to access the amazing website that was created to support the film. Not only does it have an interactive, bar-by-bar recording (in Stephen Fry’s translation) but it also has some good games.

You can see highlights here:

 

Amadeus

Directed by Milos Forman (1984). Adapted from the stage play of the same name by Peter Shaffer. Amadeus’ main protagonist is in fact Antonio Salieri, one of the most respected composers of his age, here placed in competition with Mozart. In the film it is he alone, of all his contemporaries, who appreciates but envies Mozart’s almost perfect music. Frustrated by Mozart’s seemingly divine talent for composing, he stands for all of us (like Salieri) whose talents fall short of our desires. Amadeus was never intended to be a documentary biography of the composer but it is full of great Magic Flute footage. It is an introduction to Mozart which all children enjoy although it does contain one scene of nudity and a couple of lewd moments. Have a look at the clip of the Don Giovanni scene.

 

Trollflojten

Directed by Ingmar Bergman (1975). A Swedish take on The Magic Flute. The relationship between The Queen of The Night and Sarastro is depicted and played out in a theatre to an audience of children. We’ve put a clip here for you to have a look at. They are singing in Swedish – but you’ll get the idea – if you buy the DVD there will be subtitles!

 

Don Giovanni

Screen adaptation of Mozart's greatest opera. Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore, (whom Giovanni killed) makes his appearance. He offers Giovanni one last chance to repent for his badness. He will not change his ways, So, he is sucked down into hell by evil spirits. High drama, hysterical comedy, magnificent music! See a trailer of images from the film set the overture.

 

Carmen

A very scenic film of the opera starring director; a film of the opera starring Julia Migenes and Plácido Domingo. See some of it on this clip. They are singing in French – but you’ll get the idea – if you buy the DVD there will be subtitles!