Across the past fortnight Royal Opera House director of opera Kasper Holten has been posting a video diary of his rehearsals towards a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni which opens on 1 February. (The image above is a detail from the playbill of the opera’s Vienna premiere in 1788.) Holten has taped three episodes to date and they make a fascinating contrast with the production diaries created by Royal Shakespeare Company for Richard II. Holten’s pieces are shorter, far simpler – to date, just him filming himself speaking to camera – and strongly authored, as this first one demonstrates. I have embedded the other two across the jump, along with a clutch of additional links for this last weekend of 2013. Thanks for Twitter tips to @StephensSimon, @pkerwood, @KeyframeDaily, @lukemckernan, @manovich and @melissaterras.
• Don Giovanni – Kasper Holten’s video diary no 2:
• Don Giovanni – Kasper Holten’s video diary no 3:
• American Psycho, Almeida: Andrew Haydon at Postcards from the Gods is really very good on the Rupert Goold-directed musical currently wowing Islington and beyond.
• Blue Christmas 1913: a brilliant post by Eve Anderson for the Sound and vision blog at The British Library about what was on offer as recorded music a century ago – with wonderful audio files.
• The overexposed museum: Eric Gibson wrings his hands in The New Criterion about the prevalence of smartphones and tablets in museums: ‘They disconnect the visitor from the art on display and imperil the museum in other, very real, ways. For this reason, if the museum experience is to continue to mean anything, these devices, like flash photography, need to be banned…’
• Mona Lisa selfies: … while Rob Walker at Observatory celebrates those who take their pic with the world’s most famous painting: ‘taking a Mona Lisa selfie makes more sense to me than taking a straight photograph of one of the most widely documented and reproduced visual works in the world.’
• Selfies of 2013 – the best, worst and most revealing: … and while we’re on the subject, have we all seen Stuart Heritage’s round-up of the phenomenon?
• Many are Called: in contrast to the above, a wonderful Metropolitan Museum slideshow of images from Walker Evans’ three-year photographic study of New York City subway passengers.
• The American who gave his life to Chairman Mao: a truly remarkable interview for The Atlantic by Matt Schiavenza with 92-year-old Sidney Rittenberg who is described as a ‘Chinese linguist and Communist sympathizer [who] served as a friend, confidante, translator, and journalist for the Communist Party [in China] leadership after first encountering them at their Yan’an base in 1946.’
• Re-mise en scène: a rich response by the late Serge Daney to Michaelangelo Antonioni’s China documentary Chung Kuo (1972, available on DVD here), originally published in Cahiers du cinéma in July 1976 and newly translated by Stoffel Debuysere for diagonal thoughts.
• As new services track habits, the e-books are reading you: a fascinating New York Times pieces by David Streitfeld about the likely impact on writing of detailed reading data.
• Distracted? How hyperstimulation is making you smarter: for Wired, Tom Cheshire – ‘Although the evidence is scattered and only just emerging, a number of researchers around the world might be showing the exact opposite [to what we intuitively believe]: that technology is making children more sociable, more expressive and more creative.
• Where will we live?: a compelling and profoundly worrying long essay on the housing crisis by James Meek for the London Review of Books.
• A dog’s theory: Brad Stevens for Sight & Sound reflects on a 5-minute digital fragment of his dog shot by veteran director Monte Hellman, which I embed below. Spoiler: nothing of any consequence happens in the video. But Stevens’ comments are smart:
Given the fragmentation of the cinematic experience – whereby a film is just as likely to be viewed on a mobile phone as in a cinema – it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the distinction between fully achieved works and rough sketches.