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"THE NIGHTINGALE" premiered on December 21, 2005 on PBS (check local listings).

Igor Stravinsky's adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Nightingale" has been produced for television in an extraordinary animated interpretation by filmmaker Christian Chaudet. Stravinsky's score, inspired by Andersen's tale of a Chinese emperor enraptured with the beautiful singing of his treasured nightingale, comes to life as never before in a vibrant explosion of live performance and computer animation. With the orchestra and choir of the Opéra National de Paris under the direction of James Conlon, the production features performances by Natalie Dessay and Laurent Naouri seamlessly interwoven with Chaudet's dazzling visual effects.

Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale was first published in 1843. Composer Igor Stravinsky began his adaptation in 1908, but set it aside for a few years and only finished the opera in 1914. The piece had its world premiere on May 26 of the same year in Paris, with a libretto by the composer and Stepan Mitusov. Several years following its debut, the tale was reincarnated as a ballet for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with Stravinsky once again providing the score. "Song of the Nightingale," the resulting 20-minute symphonic poem drawn from the opera, was completed in 1917, and the ballet premiered in 1920, with sets by Henri Matisse and choreography by Léonide Massine.

Four years in the making, the film version of "The Nightingale" required the expertise of multiple animators to produce the three-dimensional computer images and seamlessly meld them with the live action. Discover how the film came about and details behind the making of it from Dominique Barneaud, the producer, in Dialogue. Learn about the development of Stravinsky's opera, which originally began as a one-act, stand-alone piece and only later expanded into three acts, in the essay by writer Tim Smith. Brush up on the story, sung in the original Russian with English subtitles, in the synopsis, which also has links to video excerpts from the film, and on the different voices in opera through the Multimedia Presentation.

Top banner photos: The Child (Hugo Simcic) spies The Fisherman on the vase; The Cook (Marie McLaughlin) prepares for the Emperor's fete; The Nightingale (Natalie Dessay) (left and center photos: Agat Films & Cie -- 2005).

The Emperor's courtiers

The Emperor's courtiers.

Baritone Albert Schagidullin as The Emperor.

Russian baritone Albert Schagidullin as The Emperor.

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