A leading director of stage opera in the late 20th century, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle is also important as a director of opera film for television. Unlike full-length opera films that stress ideology (for example those of Losey, Rosi, or Syberberg), Ponnelle's opera films are striking in their emphasis on subjectivity. Examples from Ponnelle's most cinematic opera films——Madama Butterfly (1974), Le nozze di Figaro (1976), and Rigoletto (1982)——demonstrate key elements of his subjective emphasis: camera work that highlights the individual, including point-ofview technique, zoom shots, and low-angled shots; doubling, where mirrored or duplicated elements tell us more about a character; interior singing, where the viewer hears the soundtrack but sees no moving lips on screen; and manipulations of time, especially structural flashback, circularity, and quick flashes of past and future. Although Ponnelle's devices are cinematic, we see how his approach is more suited to television than to cinema. His emphasis on music and subjectivity would seem to preclude the term auteur, which usually describes a highly individual approach that minimizes handed-down elements. Yet the marriage of innovation and tradition witnessed in his work suggests that he may indeed be considered a major auteur of screen opera.
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