Verdi & Pavarotti

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Updated 23 February 2013
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Verdi & Pavarotti

After talking about the “highest poet” Dante and the “greatest genius” Leonardo, this time we shall glance at a totally different feature of the multi-faceted Italian culture. We will in fact briefly talk about another of its sides — a modern, musical one: “opera”. An opera is a theatrical presentation in which a dramatic performance is set to music. It incorporates many elements of spoken theater (acting, scenery, costumes). The solo and choir singing is accompanied by an orchestra.
We shall start with a highly fecund composer, whom we owe some of the most famous operas ever written. Some readers may probably think about Gioacchino Rossini, who composed the well-known “Barber Of Seville” (Figaro). Although Rossini is certainly part of the fertile Italian nineteenth century musical generation, Giuseppe Verdi is the one who gave us immortal masterpieces such as “Aida”, “Il Trovatore”, “Traviata”. You may be familiar with the aria “Su libiamo” (Let’s drink to a toast), from “Traviata.” Even if you do not recognize the words, you would certainly recognize the melody. Do you care to check it out? You won’t regret it. It’s beautiful.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was an Italian romantic composer who lived during the troubled historical times of the Wars of Independence that Italy fought around the middle of the century. His music is considered among the greatest operatic work of all time, and he used it as a means to encourage his fellow countrymen to fight in order to regain the long-lost freedom from foreign occupation. Verdi led a long, prolific life and, unlike other contemporary composers, he enjoyed a vast public success during his lifetime. I find it particularly interesting that he composed one of his most appreciated operas, “Falstaff” when he was 80 years old.
Along with a great composer, we cannot avoid mentioning a great singer that everybody knows — the late Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007). He started his career as an operatic tenor in the early ‘60s and later crossed over into popular music. This is what made him famous all over the world, and incredibly successful from a commercial point of view as well. Along with two other well-known colleagues, Spanish Placido Domingo and Jose’ Carreras, he formed the group “The Three Tenors” (“Pavarotti & Friends”), which performed in TV concerts and numberless media appearances, mainly to raise money for humanitarian causes. With the same aim, Pavarotti also sang with several international mega-stars such as Celine Dion, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Bono, John Bon Jovi, Andrea Bocelli etc. In 2006, on the occasion of Turin Winter Olympics opening ceremony, Big Luciano (as he had affectionately been nicknamed by his fans) sang for the last time his signature aria “Nessun dorma”, from Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot”. A sad final note: After his death, his large estate was the cause of bitter legal battles among his heirs (ex wife, widow and children).

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Deadpool 2 ends Avengers: Infinity War’s box-office reign

Updated 21 May 2018
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Deadpool 2 ends Avengers: Infinity War’s box-office reign

LOS ANGELES: Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers.
Fox’s “Deadpool 2” brought in $125 million this weekend, giving it the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie and ending the three-week reign of Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War” at the top of the North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday.
“Deadpool 2,” with Ryan Reynolds returning as the title character and co-writing this time, fell somewhat short of the $130 million the studio predicted and the $132.4 million that its predecessor earned two years ago.
Analysts and the studio said the difference can be attributed to the first film opening on a holiday weekend, and could easily be made up with Memorial Day coming, despite the looming competition from “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
“I think with a holiday on our second weekend we’ll catch ‘Deadpool’ if not exceed it,” said Chris Aronson, distribution chief for 20th Century Fox.
The film grossed $176.3 million internationally and opened better overseas than the first, especially finding audiences in Latin America.
The Avengers are hardly hurting. Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” brought in an estimated $29 million in North America for a four-week take of $595 million domestically and $1.2 billion overseas. It’s now the fifth highest grossing film of all time worldwide.
In a whole different corner of the cinematic universe, “Book Club” was third with a $12.5 million weekend that exceeded expectations.
It was a successful piece of counter-programming for Paramount, which used the modestly budgeted comedy starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen to find older audiences and women while “Deadpool 2” dwelled overwhelmingly on young men.
“There are definitely audiences out there for whom superhero movies are not their cup of tea,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore.
“Deadpool 2” follows the proudly foul formula of the first, mixing the usual superhero set pieces with gore, gross-out jokes, 80s power ballads and frequent fourth-wall violations.
The box office of the second film suggests that formula can become a long-term franchise, and builds its possibilities with the addition of antihero teammates from Marvel Comics for the title character, including Josh Brolin’s Cable and Zazie Beetz’s Domino.
“The source material is so vast and rich that I don’t think there’s any question that it just opens the door for more,” Aronson said.
Along with the earnings and acclaim for last year’s R-rated “Logan,” Fox has made itself the early leader in the burgeoning subgenre.
“The R-rating may be restrictive in terms of the audience make-up, but it’s certainly not restrictive in the creative freedom it offers, so when movies like these hit, they can hit big,” Dergarabedian said. “There is a place for the R rating. In the superhero genre it offers endless and really cool possibilities.”
“Deadpool 2” next faces off with “Solo,” but the two films along with the still-earning “Avengers” ought to make for a major Memorial Day for the industry.
“This marketplace is big enough for all these films,” Dergarabedian said.