Modern Culture19 Nov 2008 12:07 pm
Philip Glass is best known for his innovative “Minimalist” compositions, though he prefers to be thought of as a classical composer or, more specifically, a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” He’s one of the most listened-to modern classical composers in the world, though many members of his audience don’t necessarily know that they’re listening to him. That’s because Glass has also made a name for himself as a composer of movie scores; his most famous score &mdash for The Hours — earned him an Oscar nomination. More intriguingly, Glass has written music, entire operas in fact, for films made long before his musical career began. The three operas composed between 1991 and 1996 were based on three films by the French poet, novelist, painter and film-maker Jean Cocteau – Orphée (Orpheus, 1949), La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast, 1946), and Les Enfants Terribles (1950). Live performances of these works are rare events these days, but the opera of La Belle et la Bête is available to anyone with a DVD player.
The new Modern Culture edition of the Intellectual Devotional includes an entire section on the great Films of the twentieth century. Many of those films are available in wonderful editions from the Criterion Collection, filled with commentaries and special features. One of the films available in the collection is Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, and it contains one of the most interesting special features we’ve ever seen on a DVD: you can switch the audio between the original soundtrack and Glass’ opera, carefully synced to the actors’ movements. Glass wanted his operas to be performed with the film being projected, and with this DVD, you can experience his vision without having to wait for a revival performance, not to mention being able to stick with sweats rather than fancy opera furs.
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