cultural elite sure can get randy. Some
of England’s greatest opera stars have come to perform in a high paying vanity
production of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, but
the real action happens after rehearsals in Christopher Menaul’s 1st Night (trailer here), which opens
today in New York.
fabulously wealthy Adam plans to show his shallow social circle he can truly
sing opera with a special command performance at his country estate. Secretly though, he really intends to use the
production as a means of wooing Celia, a conductor he has long carried a torch
for. Naturally, through a contrived
misunderstanding, he concludes she is not as available as he hoped. In a sour mood, he makes a caddish bet with
the social climbing tenor Tom regarding the soprano, Nicoletta. Of course, when
the leads start falling for each other, the bet hangs over their romance like
fellow diva Tamsin is having dysfunctional issues with her husband, the
director, while Debbie, a budding star, goes all D.H. Lawrence, toying with the
earnest young groundskeeper’s affections.
There will be assignations in the forest and all kinds comedy of errors,
but don’t worry, the show will go on.
Luciano Pavarotti’s notorious Yes,
Giorgio, it took almost thirty years for someone to cast another opera singer
in a musical comedy. Some purists might
say Sarah is too crossover-pop, but it seems strange regardless to watch her in
a largely non-singing part. Still, she
is reasonably spirited scolding and flirting with Richard E. Grant’s Adam.
Grant basically falls back on his standard British Fraser Crane tool kit, but
there is a reason that persona has worked so well for him.
Emma Williams endures numerous embarrassments as Tamsin, while Oliver Dimsdale
fares little better as her predictably problematic husband. For their part, Mia Maestro and Julien
Ovenden look distinctly uncomfortable trying to pull off Nicoletta and Tom’s Moonlighting style courtship. At least, Susannah Fielding adds some
decorative value as Debbie and Nigel Lindsay exudes likability as the gay
featured tenor Martin, which is frankly what 1st Night most aspires to.
Night (formerly First Night) is not terribly ambitious,
largely content to parade some lovely scenery and an attractive cast past
viewers. Of course, the music is great
too, even if the singing is conspicuously dubbed. In a way, it is a lot like Quartet, except its characters are all
hale and hearty (which precludes any cheap heart-string tugging). A distracting trifle, 1st Night opens today (5/3) in New York at the Quad
Cinema and is also available of VOD platforms.
Labels: British Cinema, Richard E Grant, Sarah Brightman