Favorites: Orchestra Rehearsal

Orchestra Rehearsal (1978)
Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Federico Fellini, Brunello Rondi
Produced by Michael Fengler, Renzo Rossellini
Starring Balduin Baas, Umberto Zuanelli, Sibyl Mostert, Ferdinando Villella, Elizabeth Labi, Andy Miller, Clara Colosimo, Claudio Ciocca, Luigi Uzzo, David Maunsell, Franco Javarone, Cesare Martignon, Franco Mazzieri, Daniele Pagani, Angelica Hansen, Paolo Fiorino, Adelaide Aste, Ronaldo Bonacchi, Franco Iavarone, Francesco Aluigi, Heinz Kreuger
He was always fond of sampling sociopolitical phenomena through a microcosmic lens, and never more so than in Fellini’s facetia of an orchestra’s eventual insurrection against its carping, autocratic conductor (Baas). Though a rehearsal hall’s vitreous fourth wall, the ensemble’s spry amanuensis and factotum (Zuanelli) at the threshold of his retirement is first to bespeak the audience with a history of the hall now deconsecrated from its former glory as a church and auditorium, before the musicians follow suit ere their rehearsal and during a breather following one of their musical director’s diatribes. In gregarity, societal variety’s personified and contrasted, and idiosyncrasies evinced in interviews with an unseen television crew: a burly yet gentle bass tubist (Javarone) depicts the selection of his instrument as a commitment predicated as much on ruth as affinity; talkative percussionists avouch their exceptional frolic; neuroses and transports are ascribed alike by trumpeters (Mazzieri, et al.) to their artistic discharge; the flute is conferred by its lanky blower (Mostert) of gawky and exuberant charm a singular mysticism; wistful yet waggish trombonists (Pagani, Fiorino) introspect; a cheery, fetching pianist (Labi) declares sociality her sine qua non of performance; solitary spirituality, authority and antiquity are accredited to the oboe by its practitioner (Miller); lonely and chubby, a harp’s plucker (Colosimo) clings to her subsistence; one conceited cellist (Villella) professes the primacy of his instrument and the violin (which he subsequently derides); a clarinetist’s (Martignon) anecdote elucidates the clarity of the woodwind; their union delegate (Ciocca) commends labor reforms that heightened the professional musician’s dignity and salary; the Teutonic maestro in his suite bemoans a disenchantment with his symphonic society’s impudence and indiscipline, reminiscing of the felicity affected by his mentor’s mastery, and the age of his early appointments, when he commanded subordination of a finical standard. Throughout, recurrent tremors forebode a tumult to which the unruffled musical director repairs: a protest in which mutinous instrumentalists degenerated into a doggery vandalize the hall with graffiti and rhythmic cacophony first divides the orchestra into their conductor’s silent supporters and chanting dissidents; the schismatic broken consort’s rebels again predictably split into proponents of absolute meter purposing to supplant the maestro with a massive metronome, countered by wilder apostles of individualistic naturalism. Armageddon’s by demolition typed at this riot’s climax before order’s restored for the sake of survival, affirming the harmonious necessity of tradition, unity and authority. Less dynamic than his masterpieces, Fellini’s brief feature’s composed primarily of expositive static shots and elegant pans in swift time with Nino Rota’s lilting passages or slow scans of speculative significance. It’s nearly more abrupt than its substance can afford, but Rehearsal‘s scale and parabolic profundity exceeds the usual proportion of a duration shy of 70 minutes.