It’s Oscar Sunday this weekend and while it may seem irrelevant to the world of opera, the art form has been present numerous times at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In celebration of the Academy Awards, OperaWire takes a look at times when opera stars or films were nominated at the Academy Awards.
Last awards season Sumi Jo was nominated for her “Simple Song” composed by David Lang. The song was in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” which was hailed by critics and which went on to win the European Film Awards. However, Jo was outraged by the fact that she could not perform at the ceremony. The decision was made without explanation but Lang stated on the red carpet that he felt it was due to the unpopularity of opera in the film world.
Franco Zeffirelli’s “Otello” was not quite as popular as his version of “La Traviata” but it still managed to garner a Costume Design nomination from the Academy. The film lost the award but it won the Best Foreign Language Film at the National Board of Review. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs.
Carlo Saura’s “Carmen” was nominated for Best Foreign Film and while the film is not a straight adaptation of the opera, Saura still used passages from Bizet’s work and adapted them using dance. Richard Eyre would then be influenced by the film for the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of the work.
Franco Zeffirelli adapted many operas into films. All of them were critically acclaimed but the most popular was without a doubt “La Traviata.” The film was not only a critical and box office success but it was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction at the Oscars. It ultimately lost but the movie did garner other awards. It won both Costume Design and Art Direction at the BAFTA and the Golden Globes nominated the film for Best Foreign Language film. It also scored a Top Ten spot on the National Board of Review’s Best Foreign Films.
Ingmar Bergman was known for directing philosophical dramas that were eye catching and visually stunning. His version of “The Magic Flute” to this day is a classic and one that most view as one office greatest achievements. After receiving praise the film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Costume Design. The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language film and also won a BAFTA award.