Aria is a 1987 British anthology film produced by Don Boyd that consists of ten short films by ten different directors, each showing the director's choice of visual accompaniment to one or more operatic arias. There is little or no dialogue from the actors, with most words coming from the libretto of the operas in Italian, French, or German.
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Don Boyd|
|Edited by||Neil Abrahamson|
Stephen P. Dunn
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
The film was entered into the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.
A fictionalised account of the visit by King Zog I of Albania to Vienna in 1931, to see a lover, when opponents tried to assassinate him on the steps of the opera house (in fact after leaving a performance of Pagliacci) but by shooting back he survived.
- Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi
- Extracts: Prelude, "Re dell' abisso", "Di che fulgor che musiche", "La rivedra nell'estasi", "Ebben si t'amo", "Mezza notte", "O giustizia del fato"
- Sung by Leontyne Price, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Shirley Verrett, Reri Grist; conducted by Erich Leinsdorf
- Directed by Nicolas Roeg
- Starring Theresa Russell, Stephanie Lane
- Running time: 14 minutes
"La vergine degli angeli" from La forza del destino
Three children in London, devoted to a statue of the Virgin Mary, steal and set on fire a luxury car, which they later watch on the TV news.
In a gym, two young women working as cleaners are entranced by the muscles of the male bodybuilders, who maintain their concentration even when the women strip.
- Music composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully
- Extracts: "Ah! Si la liberté me doit être ravie", "Enfin, il est en ma puissance", "Venez,venez, Haine implacable"
- Libretto by Philippe Quinault
- Performed by Rachel Yakar, Zeger Vandersteene, Danielle Borst; conducted by Philippe Herreweghe
- Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
- Starring Valérie Allain, Marion Peterson
- Running time: 11 minutes
A bedroom farce set in the Madonna Inn at San Luis Obispo, in which a movie producer cheats on his wife with a pneumatic German starlet while unaware that his spouse is also there in the inn with a clandestine hunk of her own. The finale is a dance routine to La donna è mobile sung by an Elvis impersonator.
- Music by Giuseppe Verdi
- Extracts: "Questa o quella", "Gualtier Maldè... caro nome", "La donna è mobile", "Addio, addio"
- Sung by Robert Merrill, Anna Moffo, Alfredo Kraus; conducted by Georg Solti
- Directed by Julien Temple
- Written by Charlie Coffey
- Starring Buck Henry, Beverly D'Angelo Garry Kasper, Anita Morris
- Running time: 14 minutes
In the seemingly dead city of Bruges in winter, footage of empty buildings in deserted streets is intercut with a duet of two lovers in an ornate bed chamber.
In the Théâtre Le Ranelagh in Paris in 1734, a preview of the opera is given to an audience of inmates from a mental asylum.
- Music composed by Jean-Philippe Rameau
- Libretto by Louis de Cahusac
- Extracts:Entr'acte – "Suite des vents", "Nuit redoutable! ... Lieu désolé", "Jouissons, jouissons! Jouissons de nos beaux ans"
- Performed by Jean-Philippe Lafont, Philip Langridge, John Aler; conducted by John Eliot Gardiner
- Directed by Robert Altman
- Starring Julie Hagerty, Geneviève Page, Sandrine Dumas, Chris Campion
- Running time: 7 minutes
"Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde
"Nessun dorma" from Turandot
Unconscious after a car crash, a lovely young girl imagines her body is being adorned with diamonds and rubies in a tribal ritual, when in fact it is the preparations for surgery. After nearly dying on the operating table, she regains consciousness.
"Depuis le jour" from Louise
A veteran opera singer gives her final performance, intercut by home movies of her on holiday when young and in love.
"Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci
In an ornate opera house, empty except for a possibly imaginary young woman, an aging virtuoso mimes his aria to an old cylinder recording and dies.
- Music composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo
- Sung by Enrico Caruso
- Directed by Bill Bryden
- Written by Bill Bryden and Don Boyd
- Starring John Hurt, Sophie Ward
- Running time: 4 minutes
The American writer Leonard Maltin did not seem to appreciate the work: "Godawful collection of short films, each one supposedly inspired by an operatic aria. Precious few make sense, or even seem to match the music; some are downright embarrassing. Roddam's bittersweet Las Vegas fable (set to Tristan und Isolde), Beresford's sweet and simple rendering of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt are among the better segments—relatively speaking. A pitiful waste of talent."
Giving it three stars, Roger Ebert wrote: "I am not sure that any indispensable statement about opera has been made here, and purists will no doubt recoil at the irreverence of some of the images. But the film is fun almost as a satire of itself, as a project in which the tension between the directors and their material allows them to poke a little fun at their own styles and obsessions. You could almost call Aria the first MTV version of opera."