Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Amahl redux?

While penetrating myself through the first hour of NBC's The Sound of Music Live with Carrie Underwood in the lead role (I had to be in bed early because of another hard 6 AM workout), I read many criticisms of it compared to the 1965 movie, and much of the problem with the live event was the majority of viewers do not understand the difference between live theatre and a motion picture that is filmed and edited.

The biggest observations of the performance were twofold; one, the use of pre-recorded soundtracks, which Arturo Toscanini would have never approved. Mr. Toscanini was the conductor of NBC's orchestra until the 1950's. This is a problem we are seeing everywhere today, even in churches, which forced me to leave our church choir. The second observation was that it had roughly been fifty years since NBC had commissioned live musical theatre for television. Now Fox had commissioned a live Roc and NBC had live ER episodes, but they were just episodes for certain occasions.

For a generation that hasn't seen a live musical theatre event, and do not understand the importance of NBC's annual (1951-63) performances of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, including myself, that we have discussed on the blog, the live staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein's big musical was a throwback to that era. I can understand the criticism of the lead role being former Pop Idol Carrie Underwood, but other than that, the larger issue is something I hope will return to television annually, and that is live theatre. Is this the modern-day Amahl? Might we have a return to live theatre on television the way it was, with live orchestras too?   

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