New operas can be a crapshoot, but San Francisco Opera has pretty much rolled up a winner with "Two Women" ("La Ciociara"), running through the end of June. Based on the 1958 novel "La Ciociara" by Alberto Moravia (and "informed by" Luca Rossi's screenplay for De Sica's famous 1960 film, "Two Women"), the libretto by Fabio Ceresa and composer Marco Tutino could use a bit of fine-tuning, but the lush neo-romantic score is filled with wonderful stuff.
The story of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who hid in a tiny annex with her family to avoid deportation to the concentration camps during World War II, is well known. Her tragic fate has been told time and again since the discovery of her diary shortly after the war's end. And yet, in an age of history deniers, and in a world where genocide is still a threat, it is important that this story be told again, and again, in the hope that a lesson will be learned and such atrocities will never be repeated.
As often as I've seen the 1942 film "Casablanca," it wasn't until I heard Max Steiner's score performed live with the movie this past Saturday that I fully appreciated how important the music is in establishing the mood of key scenes and in advancing the story.
In French writer/director Christophe Barratier’s “War of the Buttons,” we find ourselves, spring 1944, in a relatively isolated French village. The Nazis have a dominant presence but remain secondary to the turf wars of two groups of boys. Their battles’ spoils consist of buttons and shoelaces, leaving the vanquished with pants falling down and shirts flapping.