CH 1984 90'
Schmid's preoccupations with opera, theatricality, romanticism, and decay receive perhaps their loveliest, most poignant treatment in this remarkable documentary. The setting is Casa Verdi, a home for retired opera singers and musicians founded by Giuseppe Verdi. Schmid achieves an extraordinary rapport with his subjects, who relive (and often resing) their glorious pasts with a mixture of bittersweet nostalgia and good-natured hamminess. The title refers to the fatal dagger in Puccirii's opera, but the sting of encroaching mortality is counterpointed by the eternal youthfulness of memory and art. Walter Goodman in the New York Times called the film "tauching and exhilarating," and J. Hoberman (Village Voice), wrote, "This funny, moving film is a voluptuous memento mori ... Schmid has made a film about old age and dying which is neither sentimental nor grotesque but cumulatively startling."
"This is one of the most insightful, life-affirming, and just plain entertaining movies ever made on the subjects of old age, music, and the capacity of art to uplift and sustain the human spirit." The Christian Science Monitor