This Thursday, October 10, marks Verdi’s 200th anniversary. Bella Figlia Dell’amore is the quartet sung in Verdi’s Rigoletto (certainly you-tube it, and watch the reigning darling soprano Anne Netrebko version). Knowing opera and the world it operates in will help you understand some of the references made in this film, but I doubt the audience will need much introduction; I expect most people watching will be a certain age, anyway.
A retirement home for the operatically and instrumentally gifted. Not as glamorous as Downton, but evenly, a fair-size Victorian country house covering acres of land. The residents certainly have earned their applauses and a comfortable living to be placed there. The intangible comfort is that they are among people who they may already knew, from past performances. Of course, it’s about opera, so there are divas, and difficult tenors. People age, but behaviour carries until it is buried six feet under. Nonetheless, I am sure all of them wish for one thing, that is their legend lives on…forever.
And such is the story to be told.
Groups are in the midst of preparing for their annual Gala fundraiser to keep the home operational. The main characters are Reginald Paget(Tom Courtenay), with a flair of Guiseppe di Stefano, Wilf Bond(Billy Connolly), bit of a philanderer, in past and in present, Cissy Robson(Pauline Collins) has mild dementia, and showing her grand entrance is once diva, Jean Horton(Maggie Smith), with bits of Maria Callas’s imprint, perhaps?
Less talked about, but just as dramatic, are the opera’s royalty marriages and divorces. Does Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu ring a bell?!
Here we have the grudges between Jean and Reginald, who never forgets and forgives that Jean cheated on him shortly after they were married. Such classic portrayal, If they are trained to remember difficult lyrics (lip-sync, I doubt, was and is ever an option!!!), I bet they will remember who and when someone wronged them, and for divas, also who stole their curtain call.
To break up the monotony, a group of young students attend a class held by Reginald, and the debate is between opera and hip-hop.
Since this is another drama, love and friendships have to be served, cold or warm, you decide!
WATCH…I have to say you need to know opera to catch the nuances, so not for anyone younger than 40 4sure, unless you studied, or are studying Classical Music.