Orchestra Rehearsal (1979) | Bluray release

January 28th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Federico Fellini; Cast: Baldwin Baas, Elisabeth Labi; Italy/West Germany | 70′.

Fellini’s little known TV vignette is a rather anarchic undertaking which suffers from its episodic form offering moments of brilliance, but even longer stretches of opaqueness.

Seen as Fellini’s only contemporary effort – his other films always reaching out to the past – Orchestra still has some hallmarks of his classics, with the film crew always present, this time we can hear Fellini as the director of a documentary crew filming the rehearsal. Everything gets off to bad start after members of the union squabble about musicians’ payment, and when the conductor (Baas) arrives, things get even worse. He is an arrogant German (perhaps a caricature of Herbert von Karajan), and behaves like a dictator, alienating everyone before he is  ‘sidestepped’ by demolition workers who arrive and tear the place apart. The harpist (Labi) is the victim of falling walls, and after the mayhem stops, the musicians, like frightened children, suddenly obey the conductor.
This was sadly the last music every composed by Nino Rota – a Fellini regular. DoP Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard), also collaborated on Fellini classics such as Roma, and he excels here in the limited space allotted to him. But overall the director seems oddly tired and not at home in this contemporary setting. AS


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