chapter  24
8 Pages

An upsurge of interest in musical cinema. Ways of solving the problem of 'cinema and opera'. Katerina Izmailova by Shostakovich and Shapiro.

At first sight, the unaccountable interest of directors in the most un-cinematographic genre of musical cinema, the film-concert, may cause surprise, and arouse suspicion of there being material advantage in it. In fact, generous financing by the state of this sort of production stimulated the appearance of a whole series of uniform film concerts, which served as advertisements, aimed at demonstrating the concert programs of opera and variety singers and of the leading professional and amateur groups. Sometimes, these had simple comic or melodramatic plots which helped overcome their fragmentary character and unite the uncoordinated concert items, and, to some extent, facilitated understanding of the film by spectators. However, in criticizing the artificial and un-cinematic character of the film concert, it is necessary to bear in mind one important but little known fact: intensive use was made of film concerts as a special training ground for mastering the techniques of stereophonic music recording and stereoscopic filming. The starting point was the film concert of the director Nemolyaev, An Evening in Moscow (1962). Two years later the Armenian director Grigori Melik-Avakyan shot the film Goar Gasparyan Is Singing, which proved to be a turning-point in musical cinema. In it, he made an attempt to reveal the meaning of popular arias from the repertoire of Goar Gasparyan, a soloist of the Erevan Opera and Ballet House, by means of staging and performance devices. It is interesting that for this purpose the director used different combinations of documentary film and episodes shot

on location, with a carefully chosen cast; the main point is that he gave each novelette item its own colour range.