Love's Debris

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary, Opera

Ecstasy awaits serious opera fans in this beautifully photographed, loosely structured documentary about opera singers. The material is rich, and the question around which it's structured -- how do singers evoke a world of intense and complex emotions through their voices? -- is one that could easily engage a wide range of viewers. Director Werner Schroeter's...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Ecstasy awaits serious opera fans in this beautifully photographed, loosely structured documentary about opera singers. The material is rich, and the question around which it's structured -- how do singers evoke a world of intense and complex emotions

through their voices? -- is one that could easily engage a wide range of viewers. Director Werner Schroeter's casual interviews with a series of European singers are often moving, especially when he speaks to three older divas who helped inspire his own love of opera -- Italian Anita Cerquetti,

German Martha Modl and Belgian Rita Gorr -- about the ways singing shaped their lives, and how their lives seeped into their voices. So it's a pity that Schroeter seems determined to shut out the less knowledgeable among us. Just a few small adjustments would make the film so much more

accessible: Identifying the singers onscreen, for example, and subtitling the arias they perform against the sumptuous backdrop of a 13th-century abbey. How does what they're singing relate to what they've just said about love or betrayal or ambition or self-image, if at all? Sure, the music

itself is supposed to carry a powerful emotional punch, but if words didn't count there wouldn't be any. And the random images with which Schroeter punctuates the interviews and arias -- handsome, naked youths riding horses or rolling in front of churches in oversized wheels, for example -- add

only a grating touch of pretentious Eurotrashiness.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Ecstasy awaits serious opera fans in this beautifully photographed, loosely structured documentary about opera singers. The material is rich, and the question around which it's structured -- how do singers evoke a world of intense and complex emotions thr… (more)

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