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From the Feuilletons


04/08/2006 

Der Tagesspiegel, 04.08.2006

The paper is running alternating articles by Lebanese author Abbas Beydoun and Israeli writer Moshe Zimmermann about the current conflict. On Wednesday, Beydoun questioned whether Hizbullah fighters were really hiding among the civilian population. "Does anyone really believe a father would keep his kids with him in a house from which Katyusha rockets were being fired? A fighter hiding behind the bodies of his own children?" Today, Moshe Zimmermann asks him: "From where are the thousands of rockets being fired into northern Israel, killing people - from nowhere? How believable is the conclusion that there was no trace of Hizbullah in Kafr Kana and the surrounding area? Was it not true that Hizbullah abused civilians as a protective shield? Isn't all Lebanon in fact a hostage of Hizbullah? And most important of all: What have we intellectuals done to prevent a war that has led to this kind of barbarity?"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 04.08.2006


Gottfried Knapp found the Bayreuth performances of "Tristan and Isolde" and "Parsifal", which premiered Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, absolutely wonderful, in the musical sense. But the stage production of Christoph Marthaler and Christoph Schlingensief got on his nerves. In "Parsifal," Schlingensief used "three revolving stages and totally useless, Jonathan Meese-style, documenta-ready installations strewn with trash. Against this postmodern mess Schlingensief constantly projects intrusive puzzle images that eventually become a physical turn-off. Of course, film images could correspond congenially with Wagner's ever-flowing melody. But this desert wasteland of images suffocates all thought... If not for that fabulous orchestra under the direction of Adam Fischer, which offered a musically wonderful, crystal-clear 'Parsifal' free of bombast, nothing much of this convulsively provocative evening - with its baffling shower of images that even penetrated the ear - would linger in the memory aside from the tornado of boos for the directorial team, which Schlingensief accepted with visible pleasure."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 04.08.2006

Soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf died last week at the age of 90. Gerhard R. Koch praises the "fair sister of dark Passionaria" Maria Callas: "It's no accident that her preferred roles were not great sufferers, but the upper crust, even the mythical nobility. Mozart's Countess, Elvira and Fiordiligi, Strauss' Ariadne, the Marschallin in 'Der Rosenkavalier' (also in the movie), the Countess in 'Capriccio', as well as Alice in Verdi's 'Fallstaff'. Those were the thoroughgoing, prototypical Schwarzkopf roles, whose charm lies in their delicate balance between a soulful voice and a synthetic, artefact-like quality. In his later, reflective operas, Richard Strauss turns the loves and lives of women into a competition between word and sound. In the same way, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf always saw her art as an tension, a scission, ultimately even a picture puzzle composed of both sound and language. Saucy, spontaneous outbursts of song were not her thing at all. She preferred moments of artistic stylisation."

Josef Oehrlein has accompanied composer Mauricio Kagel on his travels back to Argentina, his country of origin, which he hasn't visited for decades. "Why has Kagel returned only once to the banks of the Rio de la Plata since 1957? Even that was just a short guest appearance in the early 1970s, organised by the Goethe Institute. And he's never been back since. 'Nobody asked me,' he says succinctly. Kagel makes no attempt to explain his long absence in ideological terms or as a result of animosities. He simply has far better working conditions in Europe, he says."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 04.08.2006

Georges Waser wonders: "Will Monica Ali become another 'Rushdie case' with 'Brick Lane'?" The filming of the novel in Banglatown in London's East End had to be stopped due to protests from local residents. Waser agrees with the commentary of Pola Uddin, "the only person of Bangladeshi origin in the House of Lords. Monica Ali's book is 'fiction', says Uddin, and should be seen as such; anyone who wants to fight should take on true injustices. The demonstrators in Brick Lane should take these words to heart. Many admitted they had not read Ali's novel. Were they egged on by a minority that was seeking attention? If you consider how much the filming of 'Notting Hill' helped the restaurants and shops in the eponymous section of London, you have to conclude that the demonstrators did more damage to 'Banglatown' than Monica Ali's novel."


Die Welt, 04.08.2006

Director Pedro Almodovar confessed in an interview that he padded the behind of his lead actress Penelope Cruz in "Volver": "I permitted myself this addition because those strong women who are so close to Mother Nature simply have more curves. I wanted her to look like the Italian actresses of the 1950s, a la Sophia Loren. Penelope has lovely breasts, but her rear-end needed a rounder form. Because she started out as a model, she has an elegant, cultivated appearance, and because she took ballet lessons, she is light on her feet. But I wanted to bring her down to earth, so I had to give the lower part of her body more weight. A curvacious butt moves differently than a flat one."
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