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November 2013
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No Iffy Lip Synching

Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti

What do you think of this video? It’s a marvelous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti; he’s strutting around Sparafucile’s shop singing one of the most famous arias of all time. The set feels old world—and it is; director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle shot on location in Northern Italy.

What’s curious is that Pavarotti looks like he’s still acting (or not acting) for the guys in the back row of a 2,000 seat opera house; make no mistake, that big voice would have all but knocked them over, which doesn’t play to the intimacy of film. And then there’s the issue of lip synching: he doesn’t look like he was really singing in the film.

It’s funny how going to such extremes in the name of authenticity can look so…well…inauthentic.

These films have their place. Probably—hopefully—they introduced people to opera who had not had access before. But compared to what’s being done in the opera house with Met HD, these earlier attempts can seem the slightest bit goofy.

The good news is, lip synching never happens in radio. On the next Tuesday Night Opera, Peter van de Graaff presents Verdi’s greatest hits. Pavarotti will be in his element from a 3-CD collection of Verdi favorites. Peter will also sample from Andy Karzas’s Verdi series, a collection which contains music from each of Verdi’s 26 operas.

The Tuesday Night Opera starts at 8:00 PM. Don’t miss it.

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