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In the Shadow of the Stars

William S. Jones , Allie Light , Irving Saraf    Unrated   VHS Tape
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The grand spectacle of opera -- the mega-stars, the scenery, the lights, the costumes -- would be much less grand were it not for the incredible talents and contributions of the opera chorus. Winner of a Best Documentary Academy Award (in 1991) "... Shadow ..." highlights several members of the San Francisco Opera chorus -- one of the best in the US -- displaying their talents, their dreams and ambitions, their everyday lives.
From the baritone who married the mezzo to the husband of one of today's superstars (Ruth Ann Swenson), we see exactly what is involved in rehearsal and performance, the long hours, the commitment and versatility required to sing the variety of repertoire required of the members of the chorus. The video includes scenes of rehearsals and performances of "Il Trovatore," "Parsifal," "L'Africaine," "Flying Dutchman," "The Rake's Progress," and "MacBeth" among others.
In keeping with the anonymous nature of a chorister's existence, none of the featured singers is identified in the credits (a few of them do identify themselves during their segments). The editing is incredibly well-done, the photography is wonderful, and the entire film "flows" with a sense of music and rhythm.
A must see for any singer who aspires to sing onstage; or for anyone who desires a greater appreciation of just what goes into opera performance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get a Life, Opera Buffs! July 14 2001
Format:VHS Tape
One of the most painfully hilarious documentaries ever made. This is the real-world progenitor of Christopher Guest's "Waiting for Guffman" and is one of those extraordinarily rare examples of life besting art. If you don't see the gut wrenching poinancy of these poor chorus schleps giving it their all, each with not inconsiderable talent undercut by a tragic flaw--epitomized by the one baritone's comment that God had played a cruel joke on him by making him loud, but unartistic--you just don't get what life's about. A great documentary that works on many levels; GET THIS MOVIE!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Again, Opera is Magic Dec 29 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is so charming and captivating, I was spellbound until the end. You don't have to be an opera lover to be fascinated by the stories of these singers who would love to be in the spotlight, but for the most part are part of the musical background. Each vignette is unique, and the personalities are so varied. But each has the goal of glorious singing, and we can't help but care about their struggles to "make it". See this film!! And spread the news.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your money Dec 13 2002
Format:VHS Tape
My best advice is in my action: I viewed this video over two years ago, and scouted it out so I can purchase my own copy now. It's informative as a documentary, but also captures a personal, touching side of opera chorus members by using the "real-life web-cam on you" genre. I'm looking forward to enjoying this video on numerous evenings and intend to share it with my friends. It's extremely well-done and warrants the awards it received.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Sometimes One Grieves Forever" May 7 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
We received an email from Allie Light at San Francisco Public Library several years ago. This is part of her message: "My late husband, Charles Hilder was an opera singer and music teacher. He dies of cancer at 33. This documentary is about his life and the lives of other singers. The film is a way of saying goodbye. Sometimes one grieves forever."
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