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Oh man, WWE productions! Ryuhei Kitamura's No One Lives is a pretty fun pseudo-horror film though. Maybe their best title?

SPECIAL COMMENT FROM THE WORLD OF LEGITIMATE THEATER: This past weekend I saw a new chamber opera adaptation of "Breaking the Waves" on its world premiere run. The production was a co-commission of Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, the latter a Brooklyn-based nonprofit dedicated to new musical composition; the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both sent critics to check the thing out (they dug it), so it's a pretty big deal show for the composer, Missy Mazzoli. I'd never heard any of her music, nor seen anything from the librettist, Royce Vavrek (who wore a goofy hat), or the director, James Darrah (some slick-looking LA theater cat, from what I saw in the program; he was not personally in attendance on Saturday).

I studied opera for about 35 seconds in college, and have remained normie casual garbage since then; as a result, I tend to focus on production aspects, which is basically okay if you're getting into repertoire where everyone basically knows the music already, but is wholly inadvisable to the extent I do it with new opera, since analysis bereft of insight into compositional qualities is like reviewing an art comic without ever mentioning the drawing. This, unfortunately, is a specialization that I have not cultivated to any level of expertise.

BUT, for the sake of comparison, FOR THE SAKE OF LARS [VON] TRIER AND NICOLAS WINDING REFN'S DAD, I've gotta say they did a pretty banging job of putting together a *perilously* faithful rendition -- one that preserves pretty much every major bit from the film -- that nonetheless does not feel stifled or crowded. Some of this I attribute to the production, which sees half the stage dominated by a mass of raised floorboards that function as everything from expressionist pews to shipboard tables to hospital beds, with shifts of scenery conveyed (apart from the music) through colored lights and silhouette projections instead of hard scenery changes. There's a dual use here; this half of the stage is literalized, representing physical space, while the unadorned flat bits of the stage represent the psychological space of Bess, von Trier's heroine. Frequently, she wanders this area of the stage in prayer or contemplation; a chorus of church men or sexual partners or rapists or whatever interact with her, literally to an extent, but the emphasis is put on the subjectivity of her religious mindset. Indeed, as the action ramps up toward the end, Jan (her crippled husband) does nothing more but lie on the raised flats on the other side of the stage for dozens of minutes, confined to the physical realities of his broken body, contra the ecstatic submission of Bess.

The New York Times guy said it was a more aloof thing than the film, which is both true and I think inevitable. You can't have a camera wobbling around, obviously, but you also can't capture the particularities of Emily Watson's performance when you're singing everything. As a result, soprano Kiera Duffy seems less mentally disadvantaged a Bess than merely sheltered and very religiously devout, though obviously her history of hospitalization is still in the libretto. This and the staging effectively tightens the work's focus onto theological qualities of von Trier's concept - not to deride religion (which he considers lazy and banal) (plus, he's a Tarkovsky AND Dreyer fanatic, come on), but to evoke conflict among 'good' people.

It is all a very Catholic emphasis on grace through acts and sacrifice; suffering transubstantiated into physical and spiritual fulfillment. That the locus of the fulfillment is on metaphysical necessity of the wife's total submission to the husband is naturally the creative instinct that has made von Trier a universally beloved cherub of an artist - these relative Catholic aesthetics (and I think his Catholicism is largely aesthetic) clashes with the Protestant makeup of Denmark and the Calvinist particularities of the village in the story. Bess' glorious submission is submission beyond scripture, submission beyond social morality, and submission beyond rational analysis: SUBMISSION BEYOND SUBMISSION. What the opera does is qualify the physical and psychological spaces at play, often cleverly; when God speaks through Bess, it is *spoken* rather than sung, suddenly in a regional Scottish accent, with loomy echoes of electric feedback swirling in the air, as if penetrating through the fabric of the various planes. So, the opera also pushes against von Trier's cinema, the mise en scène of which promotes Dogme-informed realism as a counterpoint to the text's mysticism; here, we are both outside and inside of Bess' head, music playing throughout.

Also, people get bare-ass naked on stage, which is a boon to any theatrical endeavor.

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