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It comes as a kind of composition in itself, and this I find very intriguing, in, let’s say, this combination of gestures. It’s going into flow. How to sync bodies with affect? This, I think, is a cinematic innovation, one that he takes from experimental film — from avant-garde film. La Malibran redirects here. SZENDY: I don’t really have an answer, just a thought. That is extremely important here, because it’s not just, let’s say, a chain of quotes, of operatic gestures, or silent film gestures, but a way to incorporate these gestures into a cinematic body. With these two things in mind, I decided that I would not close my eyes. So I was thinking of the eye and mouth and what happens. . There is photography, perhaps, or painting, but film is at least two images. Musical, Drama, Comedy. Puccini, for example, does not belong there . As I was watching the film this evening, some of the elements of the film seemed to come together. SUZANNE STEWART-STEINBERG: Alex, when you were talking about the repetition compulsion that leads, in your opinion, to a kind of “abstraction” or “idealization” — these are the terms — but then you say, to “opera.” So, If I’m understanding correctly, you’re not saying it’s the abstraction that is the essence of opera, but that opera is that kind of abstraction. All these forms were at this moment in an experimental state. What is this more operatic, more performative engagement with emotion doing in relationship to that larger history? These are very, very carefully chosen pieces of music. One is this Christian notion of passion as suffering; and then you have the idea of passion as a drive that can be enacted through the body, through the flesh, so to say. This is the reason he says that passion is communication — not communication in the sense of communicating something, but more like a contagion, something that has no direction. Today, Maria remains one of the legendary names in the history of opera, with countless scholars and fans dreaming of recording equipment and a time machine to transport it; depicted several times during her life by noted painters and sculptors, Maria's story has made it to the silver screen at least three times, the last in 1971 when Candy Darling portrayed her in "The Death of Maria Malibran". That even though there is radical proximity, it’s also as if they’re not aware of one another. That’s also when the body freezes into a pose or a posture, as it were. What came to my mind is that the eyelid, you say paupière in French, palpebra in Italian — it has to do with the lips, in a way. It’s a sound-image. . How to sync sound with image, or not? Bringing film towards a pure cinematic — in fact, a sound-cinematic — image. In the seventies, the first retrospectives of early film were shown. That is part of the strange images we see: where the bodies themselves are sometimes, you know, “deformed,” but still very vibrant. Because it’s not just sound bites. The genres are rather more discrete and there is a conversation between them. "Cecilia Bartoli leads a tribute to the extraordinary life of Maria Malibran, the first female superstar in music history. It relates to the Foucault quotation. But what is Schroeter doing with it? This is why I like this film so much — and also other films by Schroeter; they reinvent cinema, especially with the combination with sound. GERTRUD KOCH: He’s both. DÜTTMANN: Perhaps because it’s not really the mouths that touch. In a way, cutting or carving out the eye or graphically cutting out the mouth. A touchstone for subsequent (and better known) postmodern biographical portraits like Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, which recasts Bob Dylan as six widely disparate characters, Schroeter’s film is perhaps best understood as an opera aficionado’s self-conscious attempt to recreate the opera form in a fundamentally different medium. It leads to something that gives us no longer empirical facts in an orderly fashion, but something like an essence or the quintessence of something. How old is Maria Malibran: 28 years Female Birthday: March 24, 1808 Sun sign: Aries Nationality: Paris, France Death date: September 23, 1836. So, I’m going to start with a quotation from the film. That opera, in all its artificiality and its exaggeration — what opera gives us is the quintessence of affect, feeling, emotion, passion. You can say a singer incorporates music, but an actor is incorporating a role. There is a repetition and this repetition of vision comes with an alteration. Maria Malibran (24 March 1808 – 23 September 1836) was a Spanish mezzo-soprano who commonly sang both contralto and soprano parts, and was one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th century. Two mouths can touch in a way, but if two voices were able to touch that would be the real accomplishment of both opera or singing and love, as it were. That is what opera is all about. You know, where suddenly something like a minimal plot comes in, after we have no plot at all for most of the film. One of them was that I was looking for details about Maria Malibran’s life, which was not a very good idea. Surrounded by scandal and mystique, she was muse to the most important opera composers of the era. This is also silence. Avaliações e Críticas. DÜTTMANN: Communication without transparency. So there is repetition built into film itself; the film visualizes itself all the time. Not in general, but by means of two impossible gestures. The film is very funny in many ways. When you close your eye, closing the lids, there is something that is akin to the opening and closing of a mouth. You no longer do one thing after the other, as you normally would do, your satisfaction, your happiness, does not lie in that. When that happens, and the continuity of the course of events is interrupted, you are stuck; all you can do is repeat again and again and again the same thing. Maybe this is where the queerness might come in. So I saw this film as a constant circling around these two impossibilities. All of this is different from love. If I remember correctly, what is said is that ultimately the abnormal fact is not that something exceptional may happen within the next half an hour that interrupts the normal course of things — that diverts the expectation of doing this or that within the next half an hour; the abnormal fact is that we think there is such a thing as a continuity, that we can expect, as it were, to do this or that within half an hour, and that as long as we can do that, we seem to be quite happy and satisfied. It is that what would normally be seen as an exception is no longer exceptional, it becomes the rule. Not to forget that in opera itself and in modern avant-garde music theater, you began to have already this merging with installation art, having screens on stage, having music with accompanied films. The interminability of dying, as it were: that is, being incapable of one’s own distress. . Trailer. Because here the eyes are restored in this kind of miracle that happens in the end to the girl who loses her eyes to that evil sorcerer or whatever he is. A series of tableaux illustrating the life and death of a celebrated 19th century German opera singer. This legendary 2.5" heeled maryjane was inspired by Maria Malibran, one of the most famous opera singers of the 19th century, who was known for her extraordinary flexibility, range, and power. I was really interested in what Alex said: this quintessence of passion, this sort of quintessence of impossibility. In modern music theater, and also in the more modern styles of directing operas, the singers also became actors. I also ask myself: why is there this fairy tale in the middle of the film? BEWES: I want to ask one more question and then we’ll open it up. But I think there is something else involved here that has more to do with what Alex referred to in his statement: the time and timing of passions. It is indeed a liberation from film music, from any inner diegetic need. There is another moment in the film when — it must be a quote from somewhere — it’s said in English: “as if she were incapable of her own distress.” I don’t remember the context exactly, but it doesn’t matter. The image incorporates the sound. [long pause] [laughter]. We are touched by this film, perhaps. Film-Thinking: The Death of Maria Malibran. The reason is very simple. It has to do with the question of love and passion. . Yes. A wide variety of her possessions have been preserved at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels in the Maria Malibran fund. It’s about the anxiety of life, it seems to me, which is much more predominant than the pulsating beauty that you see there. Some are completely, of course, out of her time. As long as there is only one image, there is no such thing as film. It’s because I’m giving a paper on opera tomorrow, and I thought it would be nice to see a film tonight that would have something to do with opera. So no. It’s just there, but at the same time, it’s an impossible eye or an impossible mouth. STEWART-STEINBERG:  Is it Stravinsky at some point? One sense of it leads to the quintessence of something. This was my idea: to say, on some level, you don’t have any more sources. So there is both repetition and a sort of stillness; both body and voice that are there but not necessarily synched; both sound and image, which may come together or never come together, because — as in melodrama — things never quite match up. Actually, I had two insisting images. Until her death, because at that moment . I mean, you could say the whole film is a reference to that, but there’s one point where it’s made explicit, and it’s surprising. DÜTTMANN: In the film, towards the end, there’s a reference to what you’re just saying. If cinema is also about a second vision, then everything you hear, the music, you have to listen to as if it were snatches of old tunes and not something simply, immediately, present and given. There is some kind of communication happening. Touch is the most unbelievable thing of all. [Watching a film] is a second vision, as it were. I’m going to ask a follow-up question and then I’ll pass the mic to the others. As long as there is only one image, there is no such thing as film. Here, perhaps, it is the essence of passion, or passion as an essence. They keep dying, but they can’t really die. STEWART-STEINBERG: Curated! The main rupture is with this paradigm, so to speak — to take the film as a living image. Each tableau has a different motif, and each comes across with a decadent romanticism. Because of — the German word is — “Entsetzen,” which is translated in the subtitles by “horror.” There is that anxiety; so we would have to integrate this dimension in the argument or arguments we are trying to develop here. Maria Malibran a la façana del Teatre Principal de Barcelona.jpg 939 × 893; 230 KB Maria Malibran by William Sharp after John Hayter.jpg 344 × 366; 61 KB Maria Malibran voor harp À la Malibran (titel op object), RP-P-1931-1206.jpg 4,282 × 7,752; 4.99 MB What the film brings out very well is, let’s say, this drivenness, in the body, towards these gestures as a kind of membrane between a coded world of signs and meaning and the material basis of a body as a kind of vibrating and feeling substance. It’s just there. We don’t know where it will lead us. Now. May 19, 2020 April 17, 2020 by Damien Mahiet. So my first suggestion was something much more accessible perhaps, Alexander Kluge’s The Power of Feelings (Die Macht der Gefühle). April 15, 2020. Because I think it’s much more that. So it’s always something that will be tomorrow, but tomorrow will never happen, because people will die before. The love of opera would be that: two voices really touching. Foucault says several things in this little interview. What would be the equivalent impossible situation in the language or medium of opera? Touch is something so, so incredible. It goes back to this problem of voice recording, sound recording, music that was before the image as in the orchestra for silent films. Lynne [Joyrich] said to me, it’s an example of queer cinema. We don’t listen to it as something which is simply there. DÜTTMANN: Maybe that’s also — this is not something I normally do, but why not? I’m using these words as synonyms, but maybe later we can introduce distinctions. Both lovely and taxing, it’s an unorthodox biopic that as its first point of order changes its subject’s cause of death to suicide by singing. 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