Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Operamania 101: A Room With A View

The romantic power of opera was probably best used in the 1986 Merchant/Ivory movie, A Room With A View based on the E.M. Forster book. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture starred Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis and Maggie Smith.

The movie takes place in England and Italy at the turn of the century. The soaring aria by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini perfectly complemented the free-spiritedness and romance of Edwardian-era Italy. For it is here that Lucy Honeychurch fell in love with the impetuous George Emerson.

Forward to 3:35 to see George, in a fit of passion, kiss Lucy in a barley field to the song of Chi il bel sogno di Doretta by Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kawana. The song is from Act 1 of the opera, La Rondine.

After realizing that Lucy is in love with George, she elopes with him to Florence and honeymoons at the pensione where they first met. The closing music is another romantic masterpiece from Puccini called O mio babbino caro from his opera, Gianni Schicchi.

Puccini, whose great works include Turandot, Tosca, La boheme and Madama Butterfly, is one of the world's most beloved operatic composers. His music was the perfect choice for a movie that sweeps you away in the throes of love.

So should you be inclined to visit romantic Florence Italy with your significant other, stay at the Hotel Degli Orafi (where the movie was filmed) with its magnificent terrace and splendid views of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio. Just don't forget the Puccini.

Ah, amore

~ Ling Chan

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