What better genre to feature the theme of "sacrifice" than opera? A central trope in many tragic operas is, as Joshua Kosman points out in the SF Chronicle, "sopranos giving up their lives and chances of happiness so that tenors may thrive ..." We've watched women dive off of church rooftops (Tosca), throw themselves in the pyre (Gotterdammerung from The Ring cycle), collapse into fatal paroxysms of madness (Lucia di Lammermoor) and throw themselves into the sea (The Flying Dutchman).
Violetta gives up her true love before dying of tuberculosis so his family will not be disgraced (La Traviata) and, perhaps most famous and moving of all, Madama Butterfly gives up her child and kills herself so he can have a better life with the callow, faithless American who abandoned her. Although it's annoying that opera demands so much of women for the sake of a man, the music is beautiful and we can't help crying at the end.
More recently we have "Breaking the Waves" by Missy Mazzoli, based on the movie by Lars von Trier in which the saintly wife degrades herself sexually so her husband can be healed from his injury. Lars von Trier sacrifices another saintly woman played by Bjork in Dancer in the Dark. The songs from the movie are on the album Selmasongs. Why am I not surprised that this too was made into the opera "Selma Jezkova", by Poul Ruders?
However there is one contemporary opera based on the true story of a man's sacrifice: the heroism of Rick Rescorla, the
security officer who brought thousands to safety from the towers on 9/11 and died going up to the 10th floor to bring more people out. The opera "Heart of a Soldier" by Christopher Theofanidis, premiered in San Francisco.
A new release of the latest film by Terrence Malick is A Hidden Life, a docudrama which details the ultimate sacrifice by an Austrian farmer who is executed for his refusal to support the Nazis, while everyone in his village goes along, and despite the fact that he knows it won't make a difference.
New year, new you? It's a time when we are thinking to journey towards our best selves, to start over, to set a new goal, to try harder, to be better, to set new priorities, and hit refresh. So with that in mind here are some movies for inspo to find your stick-to-itness!
Resolving to improve often requires sacrifice and so the two often go together.
This blockbuster Best Picture Oscar winner about a no account boxer getting a chance at a boxing title is all about the sacrifice and resolution that a person makes to pull themselves up to something higher. Besides Rocky himself the film is full of people trying to make themselves better from his trainer, Mickey to his girlfriend Adrian to her brother Paulie. These are people full of the will and the drive to do better.
In a similar vein of the will to improve and sacrifice, this 1970's classic is also about people stuck just outside of the prosperity epitomized by Manhattan and dreaming big to get out their working class neighborhood. Tony's dance partner Stephanie particular epitomizes this kind of drive and sacrifice (and some of the pitfalls of that drive). The movie remains a vital slice of life from a very specific time in New York culture.
In this story of a rat with resolve, Remy (our rat hero) is willing to sacrifice everything in his quest to become a great chef. It is as improbable as it sounds and yet this film manages to make this unlikely story work.
As a young Indian boy, Saroo becomes separated from his family permanently and is eventually adopted by a kindly Australian couple and raised as their son. Despite, the kindness of his adopted family, Saroo remains resolute to find and reunite with his biological parents. This film is based on the non-fiction novel, A Long Way Home.
The great Pulitzer winning musical is all about the sacrifice, the desire and the resolution to become a great Broadway dancer/star. No song in the score crystallizes this more than the anthemic "What I did for Love" which is all about what is sacrificed for the love of dancing. Check out this mesmerizing score.
This inspiring and sad Tony winning musical about Don Quixote who fights the unwinnable fights with all the sacrifice and resoluteness that demands. The inspiring song, "The Impossible Dream" comes from this show but all of it is about the nature of resoluteness against all the odds. The new Broadway cast album with Brian Stokes Mitchell is also wonderful.
During the New Year, you may find yourself questioning your Bad Habits, and looking for ways to change them. While evaluating your life choices, this may lead you to making New Rules for yourself and your relationships with others. One popular resolution around this time of year is to get Sober. It might be difficult to keep up with your new behaviors and healthier choices, and you might even fail sometimes, but Don't Worry! Just remind yourself (and others),"This Is Me Trying". Sooner or later, if you stick with it, you'll feel like you're Walking on Sunshine!
1. Ed Sheeran: Bad Habits, Equals
2. Dua Lipa: New Rules, Dua Lipa
3. Pink: Sober, Fun House
4. Leon Bridges: Don't Worry, Gold-Diggers Sound
5. Taylor Swift: This is Me Trying, Folklore
6. Katrina and the Waves: Walking on Sunshine, More Pure 80's [18 of the Greatest Hits From the Decade of Excess]
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
The New Year's Eve-set cult comedy film 200 Cigarettes (1999) featured a large ensemble cast, including this rocker who makes a cameo as themself.
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Angels With Filthy Souls