The Paris Opera

111+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Jean-Stéphane Bron, dist. by Film Movement, www.filmmovement.com. DVD UPC 859686006437. $24.95. Closed-captioned. OPERA/THEATER
Director Bron presents a somewhat disjointed look at mostly backstage and administrative issues and events at the Paris Opera in fall 2015, with emphasis on the opera over the ballet operations. Glimpses of rehearsals and behind-the-scenes activities are interspersed with views into the politics and maneuvering of the opera's organization, including finances, strikes, contract disputes, and the maintenance of a live bull for a performance of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron. At times it's hard to determine if the director is trying to mock the artistic quirks and foibles shown or just portraying what he sees. A side story about a young Russian singer as he begins at the Opera's Academy is left hanging to the disappointment of viewers. Time with renowned singers such as Bryn Terfel is too brief as well. There are some moving moments as Paris plunges into mourning after the Bataclan massacre (see Eagles of Death Metal, above). Despite its faults, this film will be enjoyed by knowledgeable opera and ballet fans as it offers some enlightening background on what it takes to produce and perform such "high art." Bonus extras include an interview with Bron and the short film Les Indes Galantes.
VERDICT Recommended with reservations for most opera and ballet collections where there is interest.
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