Documentary overstates its case for dance

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I Hope You Dance

Very recently, Virgil Films put out a DVD titled "Tap World" in which several people told the sad stories of their youth and how tap dancing saved their souls. Now we have "I Hope You Dance," subtitled "The Power and Spirit of Song," in which the same format is used. If "Tap" began to grow a bit tedious and predictable at 63 minutes, I find "Dance" to be even more so at 96 minutes.

First of all, the subtitle is somewhat inaccurate, since dance, not song, is the supposed way to happiness. Then the background tales become longer and longer as the film goes on. Not that any one of them is not heartfelt. It is just there are too many of them and the later ones take too long to get to the point, which we know is coming anyway because of the film's format.

Among the guest narrators are Joel Osteen, Graham Nash, Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Brian Wilson, and (the only name I recognized) Maya Angelou. The latter, alas, just utters what I suppose are profound comments on the human condition, while the others at least have personal experience with dance as a healing activity.

As are most videos, this is a matter of personal taste, and many might enjoy it very much. For reasons given, I found it less than riveting.

Marston Records

Ardent collectors of opera on CD should visit the website of Marston Records. Ward Marston is considered the top person in the art of transferring very old recordings onto modern discs and his catalogue is filled with fascinating first—and often only—recorded versions of popular and less known operas.

For example, the very first "Carmen" (1908) stars Emmy Destinn and is in German, as is the "Faust" (1908). Both also appear as the first recordings in French, both from 1911. And there is the only recording of the French version of "Il Trovatore" (1912). The sound is ancient but made as good as possible by Marston, while the singing is in the style of that period. And it is so good to hear French singers performing in French operas.

Then there are collections of famous singers such as Conchita Supervia, Feodor Chaliapin, Lotte Lehmann, and Rosa Ponselle. There are also discs such as "Three Tenors of the Opera Comique," which offer even more variety.

There are plenty of non-operatic artists, but my specialty is opera and for me the Marston catalogue is a treasure trove of rare and even rarer recordings.

Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts and Entertainment section. Visit franklinbehrens.com for past reviews.


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