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Quartet celebrates Verdi's birthday with panache

Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Andrew Sachs in Quartet
Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Andrew Sachs in Quartet
© 2012 - Momentum Pictures

Quartet 2012



Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, of the film Quartet which premiered at the London Film Festival is a story of a home for retired opera singers, where an annual concert set in the English countryside is given to celebrate Verdi's birthday. Classical music lovers will relish Ronald Harwood's script, adapted from his own play. There are performances of arias from Rigoletto to The Mikado. Harwood's screenplays include Australia is a 2008 and The Pianist, for which he won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The British comedy-drama cast includes outstanding performances by: Dame Margaret Natalie Smith DBE, better known as Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Michael Byrne, Ronnie Fox and Patricia Loveland. Director Hoffman also employed many actually musicians to play themselves in the film.

As a youth, Hoffman got to know some opera singers through a roommate and he referred to them as "a different breed of artist."

"So many of these people have been forgotten by the culture, they are extraordinary people. They don't achieve a maturity in their work until 40 and there is only a short time until they can't hit the high notes. They are like athletes. I have such respect for them," Hoffman explained.

The end credits are especially affecting, with their photographs of all the actors in their youth, including the background players. Quartet is a touching hall of fame for vanishing artists. Quartet opens in theatres worldwide December 28 release from The Weinstein Company, which is to be herald for distributing this film.

The Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) screened Quartet in October. For upcoming films in the spring festival visit their website See you at the movies!