Friday, September 07, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti... 1935 to 2007


Thank you for your music.


Pavarotti's world-famous rendition of the "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot, alongside Carreras and Domingo, as part of the Three Tenors performance during the World Cup finals in Italy in 1990. He was the man behind the idea of bringing three world-class tenors together. This recording of their performance in Rome subsequently became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time, for which the three tenors received no royalty as the performance was given on a flat fee basis. A series of Three Tenors concerts around the world followed, which brought classical and operatic music to a global audience. Pavarotti was instrumental in increasing the accessibility of classical music to the general public, performing in outdoor concerts (most notable of which is the one in London's Hyde Park, with Princess Diana in the front row, who took the lead to get rid of her umbrella in spite of the pouring rain, and the entire crowd followed suit, so that the whole audience got to enjoy the performance without viewing obstruction), and doing cross-over work with pop and rock groups such as U2 and the Spice Girls, dismissing criticisms by classical purists by saying "I don't want purists to go to the Three Tenors". In spite of his "poperatic" work, Pavarotti remained a giant in classical opera, garnering life-time achievement awards and continuing to help nurture young talents in classical opera (according to Harvey Goldsmith, the producer of his Farewell Concert Tour, in an interview with More4 news yesterday, he was still meeting with his students two weeks ago). He has also performed in many charity concerts, including raising funds for the War Child campaign during the Bosnian conflict in the 90's. He was in the middle of his Farewell concert tour when he suddenly and finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer, and passed away surrounded by his family in a hospital in his home town of Modena, Italy, yesterday (6th September, 2007).

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12 Comments:

At Thu Sep 13, 07:19:00 p.m. IST, Anonymous Tourist said...

sighed...

felt the same when I heard of the news of death of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.

 
At Sat Sep 29, 03:18:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

I've to admit I don't know much about the work of either Bergman or Antonioni, although I've always wanted to see Ingmar in The Little Woman as I've read the book of the same name (about the Japanese occupation of China in WW2 and Bergman played the lead role of the British missionary - the book is based on the missionary's true story of how she led hundreds of orphaned Chinese children to escape the Japanese).

Are there any particular films you'd recommend for novices to begin with to appreciate these two giants?

 
At Sun Sep 30, 10:48:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Ooops, apologies for my misreading Ingmar Bergman as Ingrid Bergman! How embarrassing indeed! I know even less about Ingmar Bergman's work, though I have read elsewhere that Fanny and Alexander is a very moving film... Am promising myself that I will get that film come Christmas :)

 
At Tue Oct 02, 07:51:00 p.m. IST, Anonymous Tourist said...

Never mind. I mistook Ingrid Bergman for Ingmar Bergman as well, since their names are so similar and both of them are of Sweden origin.

Ingmar Bergman perceptively observes the subtleties of human psychology. He uses close-ups, silences as well as the talk to reveals complexities of character and relationships with riveting accuracy.
Michelangelo Antonioni uses his films to explore human ennui which cannot be healed by the pursuit of material wealth or the gratification of pleasure. Characters suffer some kind of loneliness and lack of purpose in many of his works.

As for any recommended films to begin with to appreciate these two masters, it depends on your target, if you want to familiarize yourself with their most famous works, for Ingmar Bergman's films, I'd recommend The Seventh Seal (1957), Persona (1966), Wild Strawberries (1957), Cries and Whispers (1972), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1962),...... (bear in mind that some of above-mentioned films are quite hard to understand), if you just want to have some fun watching their works, then I'd recommend Summer Interlude (1951), Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Magic Flute (1975),..... as these films are quite simple, and yet entertaining to watch, last but not the least, I'd strongly recommend The Virgin Spring (1960) and Autumn Sonata (1978), no matter what your purpose is, Ingrid Bergman played a leading role in Autumn Sonata too.

btw, the film where Ingrid Bergman played the lead role of the British missionary is called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958).

and for Michelangelo Antonioni's works, L'Avventura (1960), L'Eclisse (1962), La Notte (1961), Blowup (1966).... are must-see for acquainting oneself with his auteurs. Le Amiche (1955), Zabriskie Point (1970) for both its exploring and entertaining value, The Red Desert (1964) and Story of a Love Affair (1950) are also recommended.

I enjoy reading your post, and most of the times, impressed by your extraordinary usage of English. May I ask if you grew up in Hong Kong and worked in Ireland later or just born in Ireland? 'cause your English is so good that there is nearly no differnece between your writing and those of native speakers'.

You must have gotten a pretty high score in any English tests you took. Any suggestions to improve one's English listening?

 
At Sun Oct 07, 11:39:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thank you so much Tourist for your kind comments on my blog, I really appreciate your patience in explaining to me the subtleties of both masters' works (and for overlooking my rather embarrassing mistake of mixing up Ingrid and Ingmar!).

"Ingmar Bergman perceptively observes the subtleties of human psychology. He uses close-ups, silences as well as the talk to reveals complexities of character and relationships with riveting accuracy."

Ooooh that sounds rather like Wong Kar-Wai to me, whose work I absolutely adore! I'm so excited to learn that there was a European master whose works are in a similar vein, and who probably invented the whole tradition in the first place. Thank you so much for your film recommendations(especially the one with Ingrid Bergman in it!), I'll definitely follow them up.

"Michelangelo Antonioni uses his films to explore human ennui which cannot be healed by the pursuit of material wealth or the gratification of pleasure. Characters suffer some kind of loneliness and lack of purpose in many of his works."

That sounds like the cinematic equivalent of Haruki Murakami. And in fact also sounds like Wong Kar-Wai's works as well... Again I'm really thrilled to learn about the true master in this genre, and am really looking forward to exploring their works following your kind recommendations :)

"btw, the film where Ingrid Bergman played the lead role of the British missionary is called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)."

Yes I dug out that book the other day and found that the film name was indeed "The Inn of Sixth Happiness" and actually the book title is "The Small Woman" rather than "The Little Woman". The book has a picture of Ingrid Bergman with the children in the film on the back cover. It's an old paper-back, and my copy is rather tattered as I got it from a second-hand book store, but I remember thinking to myself that I didn't realise they had movie tie-in books already in those days!

"I enjoy reading your post, and most of the times, impressed by your extraordinary usage of English. May I ask if you grew up in Hong Kong and worked in Ireland later or just born in Ireland? 'cause your English is so good that there is nearly no differnece between your writing and those of native speakers'."

Thank you so much for your really kind compliments, though I don't think my level of English deserves such praise... I guess you could say that I half grew up in Hong Kong, as I left with my family to come to Ireland at quite a young age. However, my favourite (and best) subject in school was Chinese actually, although I didn't do too badly in English either (in fact, I remember one of my English compositions got published in the school magazine, but I was very angry that it wasn't one of my Chinese compositions that got published!).

I guess the fact that when I first came here, I was the only "foreigner" in the whole entire school, was what forced me to learn English fast. I really regret not being able to keep up my Chinese though - in fact my old school pals used to write to me (this was the time way before e-mail, when letter-writing on cute Hello Kitty stationery was still the norm for school girls) and say that it was such a waste that I went overseas because they could see how much I missed writing Chinese with my over-elaborate use of 4-word Chinese proverbs in describing the rather mundane things in my teenage life!

Though, by the time I was deciding on what university course to take, I have already established my love of English literature. Unfortunately (?) I listened to my parents and pursued much more practical subjects (which I ended up enjoying, phew!).

"Any suggestions to improve one's English listening?"

I would recommend watching loads of foreign movies (which you're already doing of course! I can't believe you have seen ALL of the top 500 IMDB films, how long did that take you? And where did you manage to source all those movies?). I'll also recommend watching contemporary American or English sitcoms and reality shows with subtitles if you can get them, as they are great for learning about slangs as well as conversational etiquette in the West. Also, watching 24 hour news channels is great - when I was young I watched Sky News all the time, because I found that it was actually easier for me to listen to, and learn from, properly-pronounced but difficult English, rather than to follow Australian-accented conversational English (the Australian long-running soap "Home and Away" was all the rage back then). Whatever you do, it's more important not to be a perfectionist about catching every single word, as that could be really demoralising (and rather misleading as a goal for inter-personal communications), but rather aim for understanding the gist of what was being said. You would relax and learn a lot more that way.

Actually, these days I'm trying to better my French listening skills by watching the French channel TV5 now and again :)

 
At Sat Oct 13, 01:38:00 p.m. IST, Anonymous Tourist said...

Thank you for your invaluable opinions on how to improve one's English listening.

"how long did that take you? And where did you manage to source all those movies?"

I managed to watch those films by buying/renting DVD, borrowing from library, and going to repertory shows, and sometimes when you are lucky, you can buy the whole boxset of some cinema master's oeuvre at a pretty low price at some video store. For example, I got Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) for only $10. An unbelievable price indeed since the video store owner is a philistine.
If you live in U.S, that's a lot easier to watch those films, you can rent them from video rental stores, and to your surprise, most of the classic films on IMDb top 500 list could be seen on TCM channel too.
People who couldn't finish viewing all the movies on the list means they don't have time or lack perseverance, but not the means to do so.
It took me nearly 5 years to see all those movies on IMDb top 500 list, I did not plan to watch all those films on IMDb top 500 list in the begining, just tried to watch as many great films as possible, I started with AFI top 100 list, TiME top 100 list, Winners of Oscar best pictures, best foreign language pictures..... and other films I consider them great ones, and the oeuvre of many cinema masters, and so I started my movie watching journey, over the past 5 years, I watched movies nearly everyday, a film a day, sometimes 4 or 5 films in a row on Saturdays or Sundays. By the end of 2006, I already watched tons of great films, and it happened that most of them were on the IMDb top 500 list, after my counting, there were only 20 plus more to finish the top 500 list, so I looked around to find those unseen films on the list and in the past May, seen all of them. However, IMDb top 500 list is based on users' rating, so it is constantly changing, not stationary, by the time I saw all those previously unseen films, there were several new films, which just entered the top 500 list, so I kept looking around again to find a chance to see those films, and luckily I accomplished watching all those newly-entered-list movies in past July.
To watch ALL the movies on the IMDb top 500 list is not that hard as you think, it requires some patience and discipline though, and you must forgo some sociable gatherings, after all, to earn something, you must give up something else at the same time, c'est la vie.


"by the time I was deciding on what university course to take, I have already established my love of English literature. Unfortunately (?) I listened to my parents and pursued much more practical subjects (which I ended up enjoying, phew!)."

Mind if I ask which university course you took rather than English Literature.
If that made you end up enjoying, must be some interesting course.


"I half grew up in Hong Kong, as I left with my family to come to Ireland at quite a young age. However, my favourite (and best) subject in school was Chinese actually, although I didn't do too badly in English either (in fact, I remember one of my English compositions got published in the school magazine, but I was very angry that it wasn't one of my Chinese compositions that got published!)."

The same as you, I also excelled at Chinese in school, I got Subject Award in Chinese in school, which means ranked #1 among 6 classes, 240 students in total, other Subject Awards I got includes Chinese History and Mathematics, I also got countless Chinese Calligraphy Awards both in school and district competitions, I also got 1st runner-up and Excellence Award respectively in HK joint-school Creative Writing Competitions held by Education Department, and got my Chinese compositions published in their books. I'm not very tall in height, but I can jump pretty high, that's why I was a member of my school basketball team, and I also stood out in other sports events too, I was champion in 400-meter, 800-meter, 1500-meter respectively for 4 consecutive years. I also got a Good Conduct Award for my outstanding kind heart in school, I've lots of photos of me being awarded, if you were interested, drop me an email at 1tourist1@gmail.com, I'll send you some. If possible, leave your email address here in your comment, that way I can verify the email is really from you, not some mischievous visitor.


"Actually, these days I'm trying to better my French listening skills by watching the French channel TV5 now and again :)"

Wow, such a studious person, and fond of books, I believe your diligent study will pay off generously one day.

 
At Sun Oct 14, 04:14:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Sun Oct 14, 04:24:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks Tourist for your detailed reply, especially in regard to how you managed to source all those movies, as Ireland is not that handy a place for discovering old movies than the States / HK it seems, and I wish there's also a cheap video store here with a philistine owner who doesn't know the value of the old movies he's selling (or practically giving away). I wonder though, if it's not part of your job, why did you feel that you have to finish watching all 500 films in one go, instead of savouring these movies over time?

It's really impressive what you managed to achieve in high school, but unfortunately I'm really not at all interested in having a look at your past photos. More importantly, I'm not comfortable with giving certain details about my personal life on a blog like this (even though it is a personal blog, but I tend to use it as simply an informal outlet for my rants and whines and the occasional reminisce, rather than as a medium for personal introductions, so please forgive me for not answering some of your questions). I'm especially not comfortable with giving out my email address. Hope you'll kindly understand.

 
At Tue Oct 16, 04:01:00 p.m. IST, Anonymous Tourist said...

As I said, I did not plan to watch all those 500 films in the beginning, just wanted to watch as many great films as possible, because I thought movie was a better way to learn about human nature, civilization and scenery in differnet countries. From a certain point of view, watching movies is better than reading books, one will gain a more explicit experience during movie watching, a picture is worth a thousand words indeed. and all those movies on the top list, in a sense, represent part of the gems of human culture. I used them as means to enhance my knowledge of art and human being. By the end of 2006, I already watched tons of marvellous films, and one day by chance, I counted IMDb top 500 list, and discovered most of them were already viewed, only 20 plus more remained unseen, so I thought, why not watch those 20 plus unseen films as well, and became one of several hundred few on this planet who have seen ALL those films on IMDb top list. And I could see it as a personal cultural landmark too.
As for your question: Why did I feel that I have to finish watching all 500 films in one go, instead of savouring these movies over time? Well, as we know, life is full of uncertainties, if you have some target in mind, you have to accomplish them as early and quickly as possible, if you plan to attain your purpose over time (on an undefined date), chances are you will never reach the destination in your life, since people tend to be flânerie and shirking if they don't have a clear aim in mind. That's why I felt the need to finish watching all 500 films in one go.


To have seen all those films on IMDb top list, despite my own efforts and perseverance, I also consider it God's blessing, as I realise, in this world, when you've accomplised something worth mentioning, or boasting of, only your own efforts and persistence are not enough, sometimes it requires opportunities. and I'm honoured to have the chance to view all those films. I truly feel, from the bottom of my heart, blessed.


I respect your privacy, however, I don't think revealing one's university major will put one in danger, giving out one's email address will disclose one's privacy (registering a new email address is pretty easy), as we can see some bloggers already show what their occupations are, even expose their personal photos on their blogs, and still have a happy and wonderful blogger life. I realise different people have their own personalities, some people are quite defensive, maybe they have been hurt in their past, so they don't easily trust people no more. but there is no need to shut all doors to outside world. It's totally unnecessary and overanxious to do that. Just like those debutantes, some of them are quite nervous, afraid of being cheated, and yeah, there is the possibility of being deceived, but also there are chances of making some faithful new friends. Always looking on the dark side of life is going to the extremes, sometimes one has to look on the bright side too.
And what is life, life is an adventure after an adventure, if one stays at home and shuts all the doors to the world, maybe that is pretty safe, and even if one can live that way, that's not life is about (missing the excitement during the adventure and leading a comparatively insipid life). The world is not wholly bad, or wholly good, but to advance, you have to bear some risk.

I don't easily trust people as well, as you can see I don't show my photos and reveal my personal details on my blog. However, judging from your writings, I can see you are a thoughtful and sympathetic person, definitely a truthworthy individual, so I'm willing to disclose some of my personal information and show my photos to you as means of communication.

I'm grateful that I could meet you on the net, I'm happy to chat with some Chinese with an extraordinary level of English, thank you for granting me many wonderful conversatinal moments.

and I'm looking forward to chatting with you in the future, I promise I'll never ask any questions that will arouse your anxiety, and I apologise if I have done that.

 
At Mon Oct 29, 04:44:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Hey Tourist, thanks again for your reply, no worries, I'm glad we're able to understand where we're both coming from. Look forward to seeing you post more and reading your next film review :)

 
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