Shadow Stars William S Jones

Runtime: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Director: Allie Light, Irving Saraf

IMDB: 6.6
Genres: Documentary
Studio: Light Saraf Films
MPAA rating: NR (Not Rated)
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Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this film is a hilarious and affectionate look at the path to stardom inside the competitive world of opera.

Well-edited, beautifully filmed —

As an aspiring opera singer myself and somewhat familiar with San FranciscoOpera, I was interested to see how this documentary would play. I wasamazed at how well edited this film is. The stories of the singers "blend"nicely, interweaving in such a way that you never lose track of who’s who.You actually start to care about these people. It is truly the story ofthe**chorus**, and as such, no credits are given to the individual singerswhose stories were told so beautifully.

This is a film I watch again and again, especially when I need a "boost."The scenes from the actual performances are wonderful (although I found atleast one error in the identification of one of the scenes). This is amust-see for anyone with an affinity for the world of opera.

The "Shadow" Shines

I caught this finely crafted and insightful documentary on cable today.

Though the title "In The Shadow of The Stars" is appropriately wordedand after the viewing has a wonderful depth to it’s meaning, you wouldnever expect such access and candidness in the final content of thefilm. When you think of opera – at least when I do – there seems to bea mystery behind all the productions. And most might call it a vaincuriosity. Who are these singers? How do the stage companies manageelaborate productions? And to be honest, although I appreciate andrecognize the talent and dedication involved, I couldn’t exactly callmyself a devoted follower of that particular form of entertainment. Infact, I was even hesitant about viewing a documentary on the subject.But after watching this amazingly put together – and deservedly AcademyAward winning documentary – I’m almost sure to reevaluate all that Ienjoyed (or not enjoyed) about the opera initially and look deeper andmore thoroughly at this theatrical form of entertainment.

You have making of docs for movies, and of course reality television isrife with behind the scene programs that let you into the workings of amultitude of everyday businesses and corporations. But this film allowsyou to almost feel a part of a that operatic world without havingexperiencing it first hand.

It’s humorous the types of folks – from all walks of life – who are(secretly?) opera singers. It’s as though you found out your highschool principal was moonlighting as a stripper. Not that I’m comparingthese two forms of performing, but the eye opening reveal of who is apart of these productions, is still there. An example of someone youwould most likely never suspect of being an opera singer who’s profiledin this film: a truck driver!

If you enjoyed "Every Little Step" – the documentary on the recentBroadway production of A Chorus Line, then you’ll be delighted,enthralled and emotional about this raw and fantastic film. "In TheShadow of The Stars" brings humanity and excitement to a world that israrely revealed.

not just for music lovers

This fascinating backstage documentary shines a spotlight on the unsung(pun intended) heroes of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, a collectionof otherwise faceless voices now finally given the attention they sorarely receive. The title of the film spells out their predicamentclearly enough, and although many don’t hesitate to share theirantipathy toward the stars (lead tenors, in particular, are calledneurotic and vain) the candid interviews disprove the notion thatinside every chorus member is a soloist trying to get out. The dreamsthey share and the compromises they make aren’t particular to the operastage, but where art imitates life the opposite can be true as well,and their stories are often more dramatic than any opera libretto. Onelands a coveted soloist gig in Europe, only to see the Opera House burndown before signing her contract. Another relives his childhood in aBronx hellhole, telling of his nervous breakdown at age 18. Ironiesabound, including the choice moment when a collection of preening,overdressed society snobs are compared to the more casually (in somecases slovenly) attired singers preparing for another night’s hardwork. All in all it’s a long overdue tribute, with generous musicalhighlights.

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