Thursday 2 March 2006

Watch my Lips

We finally caught up last night with Stephen Poliakoff's latest offering on BBC1 Gideon's Daughter. Nothing much of note musically except for one scene. Gideon (Bill Nighy) and Stella (Miranda Richardson) are watching a rehearsal of a choir in an otherwise empty church. The choristers are all very ordinary and chatter amongst themselves, eat food messily etc. and then they start singing, gloriously. In fact they start somewhere in the middle of Tallis's Spem in Alium. I think that Poliakoff's point is something about the transforming nature of music, but the point was blunted (if not wasted) because the choristers hardly looked as if they were singing at all and certainly were not working hard enough to produce sounds as ravishing as came out of the speakers of our TV.

This is a point that directors frequently neglect; singing is hard work and if an actor is to look successful miming then they must be working hard. Glenn Close took singing lessons before recording her film in which she played an opera singer; I've not seen it so I can't comment about how successful she was. In an Inspector Morse episode, Frances Barber played an opera singer and made a complete hash of trying to pretend she was singing an aria (from Tosca I think). Whereas in the TV adaption of one of Jilly Cooper's novels, they employed Rosalind Plowright to play an opera singer with spectacularly successful results (the series also had Alison Moyet playing a pop diva).

I know this seems a small point, but each time I see someone on Film or TV purportedly singing, but actually completely failing, I get annoyed; given the amounts of money these things cost, surely they can get a little thing like singing right.

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