An opera as a cinema film with a mix of song, dance and acting: Axel Ranisch gives the Orpheus myth a cinematic update.
“Music is the unspeakable” was a saying in the Romantic era. And when call center employee Nele (Miriam Mesak) is bullied by her nasty boss (Christina Große) for no reason, she doesn’t get up and argue. Instead, she begins to sing – and dreams of far away on the wings of her crystal-clear soprano voice (and with the help of the call center choir that tunes into her imagination).
With her frustrating, song-free reality, it’s no wonder – Nele, who works as a cloakroom attendant at the opera in addition to her precarious telephone job, suffers from loneliness. Their flat share consists of giggling young women who don’t understand Nele’s euphonious communication. That’s why she looks longingly from the back row in the evening when opera star Adina (Ursina Lardi) belts out arias on stage.
Only when she meets the charming street dancer and pickpocket Kolya (Guido Badalamento) does Nele break the rut: there are violent sparks between the woman, who prefers to sing than to speak, and the man, who prefers to dance than to speak (his first and only word falls in the 77th minute). Dance, one experiences there, can apparently also express the unspeakable.
The dilemma of a classic (opera) drama quickly arises around the cautiously growing relationship between them. Because the diva Adina, spoiled by success, loses her voice, Kolya has a serious accident – and Adina’s shady manager, a man with the speaking name “Höllbach” (Heiko Pinkowski), offers Nele an exchange: Nele’s voice for the life of her beloved Kolya…
Do you prefer to sing or love?
Axel Ranisch is a film and opera director and a big aficionado of both. With “Orphea in Love”, his attempt to bring opera out of its classicist aloofness onto the asphalt and make it accessible on all levels revolves around the question of what is better: no longer able to sing, but to be able to love happily? Or having the most beautiful voice in the world but a broken heart?
In his “Orpheus” variant, Ranisch plays skilfully and with the help of the know-how of members of the Bavarian State Opera with the cornerstones and symbols of the Orpheus legend from Greek mythology and adapted in many operas: Nele is Orphea – shy, introverted, but very worldly .
The underworld she enters to rescue the nymph Eurydice, aka Kolya, is suspiciously reminiscent of a graffiti-covered underpass. Ranisch’s production with the professionals from the State Opera, the Estonian soprano Mesak and the professional dancer Badalamenti, composes archetypal figures (hero:in, nymph, devil) into a brilliant, theatrical and excitingly filmed mix of song, dance and acting.
Ranisch puts film actors and singers together in the dramatic image and thus underlines the worldliness of the art form. Because while Nele is singing her arias, Kolya’s mother and fellow thief Lilo (Ursula Werner) is having fun with her lover (Rummelsnuff). Nele also has a concrete and not so romantic past: In the middle of her sweetheart with Kolya, a man (Tim Oliver Schultz) appears to her, who once broke her heart in Estonia – and who died in a mysterious accident.
Ranisch gives the opera and its concept, which may seem artificial to non-opera fans, what it should contain anyway: Like hardly any other art form, it stands for a connection between the various arts. “Orphea in Love” celebrates the big (and small) gesture, the sensual pathos of classical opera singing, the opulence of the scenery and street dancing. Above all, however, the film places love (for music and for a person) above reason.
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