Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Operamania 101: Bring on Da Heavies

This week's Operamania brings to the ring two Hollywood heavyweights.

Introducing the red corner, hailing from New York City, with a professional record of 2 Academy Awards, he is known for his method acting and long-time collobation with director Martin Scorsese, even taking a stab at comedy with Meet the Fockers, please welcome Robert "You talkin' to me?" De Niroooooo!

His opponent in the blue corner, also hailing from New York and is rated by many as the best pound for pound actor of the last 2 decades. Winner of one Oscar, 2 Golden Globes, one Emmy, 2 Tony awards and 3 Golden Raspberry awards, please welcome Al "Say hello to my little friend!" Pacinooooooo!

*Crowd roars*

These two actor continually go head to head for the bragging rights for the best actor of all time.

It's a surprise that in both actor's lengthy career, their movie paths only crossed 3 times. Pacino and De Niro first starred together as gangsters in the 1974 movie, The Godfather Part II. And it wasn't until 1995's Heat that they met again on screen. This time on opposite sides of the law. It would be more than another decade before teaming up again in 2008's Righteous Kill, in which both actors play cops.

But goes to show even when these powerhouse actors are not making a movie together, there can be something that can link them to each other. And that something is opera.

In the opening credits of De Niro's Raging Bull and the climax of Pacino's Godfather III, there plays an intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, a one act opera by Pietro Mascagni. An intermezzo, for the uninitiated, is an interlude inserted between the acts of an opera.

When the Intermezzo Sinfonico is played during Cavalleria Rusticana, Tirridu has seduced and impregnated Santuzza in retaliation to hearing that his fiancee Lola just upped and married Alfio. Lola who is jealous of Santuzza begins an adulterous affair with Tirridu. Santuzza who has been excommunicated from church because of the whole being with child and not having a husband thing, tells Alfio of his wife's affair.

Yeah, if there's ever a point in this opera for a break, it would be now.

After the intermezzo, Alfio challenges Tirridu for a fight to the death.

Thank goodness there's no real life fight between De Niro and Pacino for acting chops. But let's say there was? Who would you wager your bankroll on?

~ Ling Chan

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