In films we have two kinds of stars: one we shall just call them “film stars”, the other “great actors”. For example, on screen Marcello Mastroianni is always a handsome and sexy intellectual who is permanently depressed and often impotent. He is a star. But Gian Maria Volonté, Mastroianni’s contemporary, could be anybody he was asked to become: In The Working Class Goes to Heaven, he is a hairy and simple-minded factory worker who is taken advantages by others. In Todo Modo, however, he becomes a lean, clean-shaven, and effeminate Aldo Moro, an intellectual-politician. He is a great actor.

The same difference occurs in the performance of music, most obviously in vocal music. Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley, who performed early this month with the pianist Julius Drake in the Koener Hall, seems to belong to the latter category. His program includes lieder and songs by Schumann, Ravel, and two American composers, Samuel Barber and Charles Ives. These songs are vastly different in dramatic temperament which was entertainingly brought out by Finley. However, Finley didn’t attempt to lump his personality and his craftsmanship together. In fact, during a short speech given before the encore, we could clearly hear that he was extending his vocal skills to daily speech.

Some bring life to art. Some bring art to life.

Volonté as a model worker in The Working Class Goes to Heaven:

Volonté as a neurotic Aldo Moro in Todo Moro with Mastroianni:

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