BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Pavarotti’s power unleashed


A new show has been created to celebrate the voice from opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.

His widow Nicoletta Mantovani and daughter Alice – who was just four when her father died 14 years ago – teamed up with Michael Gracey, who directed The Greatest Showman, and songwriter Jacob Collier to pay tribute to ‘one of the greatest voices of all time’.

The untitled production has cost millions to develop and is slated to open in the West End in the fall of 2023.

“Luciano was a pioneer in adopting new fashions and genres. . . he wanted to bring his music to everyone, ”commented Nicoletta, while indirectly referring to how Collier, a 27-year-old, four times Grammy north winner London, will approach the show: using technical magic to give the impression that Pavarotti is singing on stage.

His widow Nicoletta Mantovani and daughter Alice – who was just four when her father died 14 years ago – teamed up with Michael Gracey, who directed The Greatest Showman, and songwriter Jacob Collier to pay tribute to ‘one of the greatest voices of all time’.

Working with sound engineering genius Ben Bloomberg at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Collier has developed new software designed to isolate Pavarotti’s voice from recordings of his performances, leaving only the world’s most famous tenor singing a song. variety of aria, without instrumental accompaniment. .

“Bringing his singing to life in a new way, this show will capture that emotional spirit that has defined everything Luciano has done,” said Nicoletta.

She and her daughter presented a private workshop in Shoreditch where revolutionary art was unveiled.

On Wednesday, Alice – who said her father’s voice “was touched by God” – explained that the series will feature a character called Sofia, “a kind of fictional version of me,” who will bring her father to life. thanks to the correspondence he received from ordinary people who were avid fans. Each letter will inspire a tune or song associated with it.

Collier, who has nearly five million Twitter and YouTube subscribers, won his awards for arrangements of his own compositions, as well as other tracks such as the musical theme of The Flintstones. “How do you honor the greatest voice that has ever graced the face of the planet?” ” He asked. “And do it in a way you’ve never heard of before?” “

Good memories: Alice with her mother Nicoletta

His response was to “chop the orchestra”. “Let’s replace that familiar sound with the sound of many voices accompanying the voice of the great man, live on stage,” Collier told me. He explained that the singers would use their voices to create a new type of accompaniment: representing brass, woodwinds and strings. Only a handful of real instruments, including the harp, will be included.

OK, I admit I was a little stunned too; until I saw how the process was set up at the workshop. Pavarotti’s vocals were created using a super powerful digital keyboard, with live singers adding harmonies, where a full orchestra once stood.

“We make music in the room, in real time, with the big man! Necklace enthusiastic.

He described Pavarotti’s voice as “the perfect instrument”, with the emotional power to pull audiences to the edge of their seats.

Producers John Berry and Anthony Lilley, of production company Scenario Two, have secured the stage rights to the Pavarotti estate, as well as permission to use fan mail sent to the tenor.

They’ve partnered up with Universal Music, which will release a recording of the show’s music ahead of its opening.

Many of Pavarotti’s most famous arias will be included. Would Nessun Dorma appear, I wondered? “It would be strange if it didn’t,” Berry joked.

It’s a perilous situation for the West End right now, with many shows canceling performances due to Covid fears among cast and backstage members. The number of unvaccinated actors is little discussed, some simply refusing to be bitten.

I was surprised that so many actors selfishly affect the health and livelihoods of their castmates. Unlike Broadway, the producers here can’t demand that all the cast and crew be vaccinated. Producers are re-mortgaging their homes to make sure the shows continue to air and give people jobs. But I am told that we must respect the anti-vaccines. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t.

Cumberbabies come first, says proud daddy Benedict

Even with three big movies on the boil, the family still comes first to Benedict Cumberbatch.

The actor, who currently dominates our big screens with roles in The Power Of The Dog, Spider-Man: No Way Home and the upcoming The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain, insists during the location shoot that his wife Sophie Hunter and their three young sons also come.

While promoting Avengers: Endgame in Los Angeles, Oscar-winning director Jane Campion called to discuss a project – The Power Of The Dog – and was charmed by the sight of the Cumberbatches with family in their home. rented.

“Just watching him be a father told me who he was in an instant,” Campion recalled later, as we chatted at a Netflix reception at the Venice Film Festival.

There was no hearing or screen test. All Campion wanted was to “meet my Phil”. It’s Phil Burbank: The deeply complex cattle rancher in his powerful adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 noir novel, set in 1920s Montana.

Director Will Sharpe’s exquisite electric life of Louis Wain will open here on New Years Day, with Cumberbatch movingly portraying the artist who won audiences for his whimsical images of anthropomorphic cats

Campion chose to shoot the film on location in his native New Zealand, with the South Island’s grassy plains and rugged mountains filling the scenic views of the US state.

But thanks to the lockdown, Cumberbatch found himself stranded in the southern hemisphere for eight months. ‘I wouldn’t have done the job without being able to take them [Sophie and the boys] first, ”he told me. ‘Too far; too long.

Likewise, while he is full of admiration for his friend Jessie Buckley (who was his wife in the thriller The Courier), currently playing the role of Sally Bowles, opposite Eddie Redmayne, in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (c is the Playhouse Theater in London for you and me), he won’t be back on stage anytime soon. Even if he admits that he has “really” to come back on the boards.

‘I have three grandchildren [aged six and under]. It’s too much right now, ”he said. “I’ll wait until they’re a little older. “

Cumberbatch is preparing to face the cameras again in January, working with another “great director” (although he declined to divulge further details).

Meanwhile, The Power Of The Dog, hailed as one of the best movies of the year, is going through the onslaught awards season – garnering a series of precursor honors for the Netflix image, for Campion, for the co-stars Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons and Cumberbatch himself.

He’s on track for a second Oscar nomination for Best Actor to add to one he received six years ago for his portrayal of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.

Director Will Sharpe’s exquisite electric life of Louis Wain will open here on New Years Day, with Cumberbatch movingly portraying the artist who has won audiences for his whimsical images of anthropomorphic cats.

Wednesday saw the launch of Spider-Man: No Way Home, in which his character, Doctor Strange, plays with Time, to try and help Spider-man out of a web of trouble. There are more Marvel Universe adventures coming in May, with the release of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.

Cumberbatch even has his own production company, SunnyMarch, which has developed several of his films – Louis Wain, Le Courrier, Le Mauritanien – and allowed him to balance work and family. But that doesn’t mean he’s taking shortcuts. To play Phil, in The Power Of The Dog, he went to “City Slickers” school in Montana, where he lived on a ranch to get into “that circadian rhythm” of rising with the sun and to sleep with the sunset; and learned skills ranging from herding cattle to playing the banjo.

“It’s probably the most distant stretch I’ve ever had, of what I was born into and what I went through growing up,” he said of the role.

To dig deeper into Phil’s mind, he and Campion hired Kim Gillingham, a Jungian analyst, to do “subconscious work” with them at his studio in Hampstead.

Cumberbatch kept a journal of his dreams. “I told him about what I could remember – if I could remember – of my dreams; and it was remarkable. The questions are sort of private, obviously; but they relate to Phil and aspects of him that look like me or don’t look like me. It really helped me focus on who he was.

“She is a deeply troubled soul who continually looks to the past and is left behind by the present and the future.”

The shoot looked like it had lasted forever; but there were also rewards. Cumberbatch rode Cricket, his horse, accompanied by dogs, to round up the cattle; and marvel at “the harmony of the different species”. . . man, horse, dog, cattle, doing their thing ”.

Louis Wain was one world away, literally and metaphorically, from Phil Burbank. Cumberbatch was aware of Wain’s work; but until he starts on The Electrical Life. . . he knew nothing of the artist and illustrator’s “quietly heroic” existence in Victorian and Edwardian London, where he struggled to support his mother and sisters. “He was overworked and slightly stretched,” he said. “He had sisters scrambling for money. He was mentally fragile. Yet he managed to produce so much work.

The beauty of the Will Sharpe movie is that Wain, and his eccentricities, is presented in such a factual way. The moments that moved me the most were those with his wife, Emily Richardson, played by Claire Foy. “It’s a love story that lasts a lifetime,” Cumberbatch said of their on-screen marriage.

This is actually the second time he’s been attached to Foy. They played the husband and wife in the movie Wreckers ten years ago.

This was before the two became mega-stars: her playing the queen in The Crown; it thanks to Sherlock and a series of increasingly important films.

“We both looked at each other and walked away, ‘Yeah!’” He said.


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