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date: 23 February 2020


  • Richard Evidon


Opera has been presented in film form throughout the 20th century. The present article considers the history of filming of opera for presentation primarily in the cinema. (For a discussion of filming techniques, see Filming, videotaping ; see also Television and Video (opera) ).

The filming of opera began early in the 20th century and quickly flourished. In 1903 Georges Méliès, the first true cinéaste, adapted Berlioz’s Faust for Pathé (under the title Faust aux enfers); its success led to a ‘sequel’ the following year, a film of Gounod’s opera (in 20 scenes, with a running time of 13 minutes) called La damnation du Docteur Faust, in which Méliès also took the part of Méphistophélès. Among Méliès’s many other films of that year was an adaptation of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. Between 1905 and 1910 opera films proliferated. In 1908 a large number of scenes were filmed as illustration for gramophone records: their patrons probably enjoyed better sound reproduction (assuming the good quality and condition of the records and needles used in the cinema) than that of early sound films. According to the German periodical ...

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