Christian Chaudet’s film of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol started life as a 1999 studio sound recording of the piece conducted by James Conlon. Chaudet became somewhat obsessed with the recording and decided to turn it into a film, recruiting the original singers as part of the project. It’s an ambitious film which mixes live action, animation and a series of special effects to create something really rather weird and wonderful. It frames the Hans Christian Anderson tale in a modern setting involving a mobile phone, a weird internet cafe and a reality talent show. He throws in some Gilliamesque animation and a live nightingale for good measure.
Chaudet is fortunate that the singers are also, for the most part, really good actors. There’s Natalie Dessay as the Nightingale singing beautifully and, as always, completely becoming the character she is portraying. Great work too from Laurent Naouri as the Chamberlain, Marie McLaughlin as the Cook and Maxime Mikhailov as the Bonze. There’s a very sad and dignified portrayal of the Emperor from Albert Schagidullin and a strongly sung Fisherman from from Vsevolod Grivnov. Violeta Urmana also has a brief cameo as Death. The Child is played quite brilliantly by Hugo Simcic.
The video and sound quality are very good. One even has the option to have just the music play or both music and sound effects. The work is quite short at 50 minutes but the disk is packed with extras including footage on the filming, the sound recording and the post production magic. There are English, French, German, Spanish and Italian subtitles for the film with English and French for the extras.