Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Renee's 2003 Houston Traviata

La Cieca took great pleasure in embedding one of my videos, and I take great pleasure embedding one of hers: Renee Fleming's stunning performance of "Sempre libera" from her role debut as Violetta. I was lucky to attend a performance of this run. Until the LA Opera DVD, this is all we have. Still, it'll always be the first. May it live on youtube forever.

UPDATE: That "forever" didn't last very long.

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's a good thing the Oscars don't matter

Of course not. No one--except for those with the trophies, their mothers, and Oscar obsessives--remembers who won. Who won Best Picture three years ago? Um, I hardly think anyone can remember who won last year.

Crash, in my view, is a manipulative, forced, obnoxious issue film that almost made me walk out of the cinema when I saw it last summer. Brokeback Mountain, the most lauded movie in years, is as subtle as Crash is anything but. It's a quiet, strong, brilliant masterpiece that, yes, will enter the pantheon of the great films. Crash? Probably not. It didn't have the "controversy" of Brokeback, and yet no one saw it (except, of course, the 120,000 (or more) who received screeners).

And what can I say for Dolly Parton? "9 to 5" was an enormous hit and has become a classic, and will have a comeback when Dolly's 9 to 5 musical hits Broadway next year. But the song lost the Oscar to . . ."Fame." And this year? Her brilliant, specific-yet-universal (yes, that's the genius of Brokeback as well) "Travelin' Thru" lost to . . . Three 6 Mafia. Travesty.

But, like I said, no one remembers who wins the Oscar. Great films are great films, and great songs are great songs. Oh, I am happy that Gustavo Santaolalla won for his wrenching, spare, and beautiful score of Brokeback. What is it about this music that so uncannily connects with the story? Every pitch, every overtone, every interval seems perfectly matched to the core of the drama. The piece that's called "The Wings" on the soundtrack breaks my heart. As only music can, it carries all the sadness, the loneliness, the longing . . .

And now, here's Dolly . . .