While I was in San Francisco to see Doctor Atomic, we rented a silent movie of Carmen starring Geraldine Farrar. What an idea. An opera singer stars in a movie playing a character she would also sing at the opera. Kind of reminds you of Callas' Medea movie.
The plot explained a lot about Carmen that has never made sense. In the movie Carmen is part of the smuggler group from the beginning. They need someone on the inside to get their loot past the police, so Carmen is designated to find a nice policeman to seduce. Doesn't that make it all come clear? It's all quite logical.
Geraldine Farrar is not particularly beautiful in this movie. I'm not sure if it doesn't spoil my illusions about her, but she does project enormous vitality and charisma. Her Carmen is not carelessly arrested--everything she does is completely on purpose. I think I like this Carmen more than I did.
In our trend toward journalism we want to point out that around the time of Caruso's death in 1920 Geraldine Farrar was the prima donna assoluta at the Metropolitan, the only person of either gender ever to have her own private dressing room at the Met.
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