Film Opera ‘Le Belle et la Bete’ by Philip Glass


Composer: Philip Glass

Performance: Philip Glass Ensemble

Conductor: Michael Riesman

Venue: LG  Artscenter

Date: March 22-23, 2016




Prologue: Philip Glass

The first time I heard the name, ‘Philip Glass,’ was at some graduate student’s (now a friend of mine) presentation.
Koyaanisqatsi, a sample music at the presentation, sounded like a new type of music to me, since I didn’t expect this kind of music,  which employs limited or minimal musical materials, could be included in contemporary art music.

I had listened this kind of music in the film like <The hours>(Philip Glass) or some parts of <Beautiful mind>(James Horner). I found the pieces of music in theses films were very impressive.  But long after I fascinated these kinds of music, I was aware of the fact that we call it ‘minimalism.’


The aged composer and the young audience

I had scarcely bought the ticket when I knew he had a performance in Korea.
I intuited that this could be a final performance in Korea.
Considering his age, it is respectful he made a long journey to Seoul and a tight schedule for the performance.
Though my future seems to shrouded by mist,
I want to be a lively person like him.
I bought the cheapest tickets due to the lack of money.
The reason why purchasing the tickets was I am a musicologist student who has interested in film music. I did not think this concert was a high-profile concert.
But when I sat down my seat, I was startled.
All the seats were taken. The theater was bustling at the seams.
I have never seen such a multitude of people gathered at music hall to see a modern opera or ‘contemporary’ western art music.
Regarding the fact that he is not a well-known person in Korea though his international fame, it was unpredictable. Furthermore, almost people in casual clothes looked like  20’s or 30’s at best.
A crowd of the young in the concert hall seems to demonstrate there are needs for multimedia or audiovisual media. I guess, they are cinephile rather than music lovers or operagoers.
There are many movie lovers and continuous new movies in Korea.
They seemed to visit the concert for Jean Cocteau, much rather than Philip Glass.
But they should remember the name of this unique opera’s composer.

A new type of genre or ‘Film Opera’ vs. Another film music

This work has given me food for thought on the nature of the music and film through the lens of the opera.
Although Auric had larger forces and was a master of instrumental color, he served the image on the screen. Glass changes the equation, transforming Cocteau’s work just as Belle transforms the beast.
Mark Swed Contact Reporter (Los Angeles Times Music Critic)
Los Angeles Times- May 2, 2014
According to the reporter’s comment, Glass’s music is basically different from Auric‘s. (film music composer of original version)
I was wonder what is ‘change of equation’ and wanted to experience it.
But unfortunately, I could not. Or I might overlook something Glass intended.
As an audience who never watched the original version of ‘Belle,’ this performance looked just the new version of the movie. I could not find the new type of the fusion. In the perspective of the audience, singers’ influence was not significant, despite their passionate performances. (But if I had watched the original version of ‘Belle,’ which was scored by Auric, my feeling might be different.)
This concert reminded me of the old-time performance, <Metropolis> by Fritz Lang(1890-1976),which was played by The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestr about fifteen years ago. This concert rendered the similar experience of watching a silent film. 
Obviously, his idea is ingenious but seems to quixotic to at least some audience who has no prior knowledge of the original version.
To see how it performs, please click the links below:
Premiering in Santa Barbara | April 30, 2014

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