Sunday, January 30, 2011

Notting Hill and Me

In forming the shorthand that an author must create to handle cocktail-party chats, I began to use the film "Notting Hill." "'Operaville' is like an opera version of 'Notting Hill.'" Recently, I realized I hadn't actually seen the film, so I got a DVD from the library and gave it a viewing. It was a fascinating experience. The central conceit - a 'normal' person's life being suddenly invaded by a celebrity - provided the same kind of comic opportunties in the film that I had used in my book. Say, the moment that the protagonist shows up at a party with a date who happens to be a world-famous personality (the hilarious shocked reactions of friends). And the central idea behind the device is this: the celebrity provides the same kind of supernatural presence that many a myth would give to an angel, or a ghost, or a Greek god. The immortal being among the poor working slobs?

I also enjoyed the differences. My own international diva is not the kind of mega-celebrity symbolized by Julia Roberts' character, Anna Scott - but in a way, for the devoted minority who follow opera, the reaction is even more intense, because they care deeply about the qualities and values represented by Maddalena Hart. I'm reminded of my own meeting with Duke Snider, who to any old-time baseball fan is a god, an actual Brooklyn Bum and Hall of Famer. But when I drop his name in my artists' milieu, I get a "Duke who?" (When I introduced an opera singer friend to Frederica von Stade backstage, she nearly passed out.)

In any case, it's a very enjoyable film, so I'm glad I've been using it as a comparison.

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