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Old 06-22-2020, 03:31 PM   #8
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Finrod: The Rock Opera

Another piece of Russian Tolkienism to add to this thread: Finrod-Zong, aka Finrod: The Rock Opera. I was recently introduced to it and was absolutely blown away, it was so well done. I would watch it again and again, it is absolutely worth it. I highly recommend taking a look if you have just a tiny bit of time on your hands. It has an option for English subtitles, so you'd be able to follow along. And enjoy!

The opera follows the events of Beren and Luthien saga that involve Finrod, with reference to many other points in the Silmarillion and even some ideas from LOTR (delivered via Galadriel). As a teaser, some of the events they cover are the Oath of Feanor and Finrod's relationship with Amarie. However, the character who absolutely steals the show is - you'll never guess - Sauron! In general, the opera is pretty faithful to the source material as it is meant to be, filling in the gaps of the dry Sil text with more elaborate expressions very nicely. Finrod gets a lot of moral conflict and philosophy, Beren is well presented, Sauron - don't get me started on that! - and Melian and Galadriel hint at the doom to come, even though the opera does not go that far. The only character who got shafted a bit is Luthien, because all her arguments and power come down to love, which I find shallow; yes, love gives her the extra strength and courage, but she's a pretty powerful being in her own right, and I think the script didn't do her justice. The script takes some artistic liberties (*cough*Thingol*cough*) but you get the sense that the people who made this really know and love what they are talking about.

I saw two different versions, both about an hour and a half long. Version 1 has a slightly more homemade feel to it, with the singing sometimes a bit off tune etc. However, to compensate for it, most actors/singers were absolutely perfect. Sauron is absolutely brilliant; the acting, the singing, the music, the appearance - I would not change one thing. I never had a good image in my head of what he looked like back when he could choose his shape, and I feel that this "fallen angel" image will stick with me. His acting is filled with a powerful arrogance, disdain, a confidence that crushes everything around him, and the music is very suitable for that as well. Finrod, of course, is another brilliant actor. Beren played very well too. I always struggled to relate to Beren after he meets Luthien, but this actor makes is believable and true and worth rooting for. I believe in this Beren. On the other hand, Luthien is a bit disappointing; it seems that the male cast got the longer end of the stick. This version also makes use of several visuals that they superimpose on the stage view; I particularly liked the farewell with Amarie. The main shortcoming of this version, in my opinion, is that the subtitles are mediocre and often lose the poignancy of the text. So watch it for the earnest adaptation and excellent acting. This is overall my favourite version.

Version 2 you can tell is made more professionally. It has the better singing voices, hands down, except maybe for Sauron (I am too in love with the Version 1 villain). However, it has a very odd aesthetic. Beren looks thuggish, and I don't think the actor really gets Beren. Finrod looks like he got teleported from some decade since before I was born. Thingol looks like a Christmas elf in a military uniform from the 1800s (but that might have been intentional ). Funnily, I initially mistook Galadriel for Luthien; they should have switched costumes (btw, does Luthien really wear blue in The Sil or do fan artists just always draw her that way?). This version also features some songs that are not present in Version 1; I didn't personally liked Amarie's songs, but I loved the extra dialogue between Beren and Finrod, and the expanded Feanorians' scene. Most importantly for non-Russian watchers, the captions on this version actually translate the text very very well. So watch it for the music and the better text.

If you don't feel like watching the whole thing, please please please just watch this part, which equates to He chanted a song of wizardry etc. I swear you will not regret it. I also love the scene right before it, featuring Sauron in his tower - as you know, I am in raptures about that guy (34:35 in Version 1). ++recommend. It is the single most impressive Tolkien adaptation I have seen in years.

Edit: I found a Version 3, which is partly made up of the cast of Version 1. I will watch it tomorrow.
Edit 2: I watched Version 3. It's an open-air production, which is meant to be a trial run of a new development on Version 1, where they experiment with "heavier" metal for accompaniment. In the end they also mention they are working on adding some of the scenes that are in Version 2 but not in 2. It's a much more relaxed and informal performance, and the actors goof around a lot (ever seen an air guitar Sauron?), but it's only funny if you've seen Version 1 previously. Also, no subtitles.

An Update for the Aftercomers:
The Barrow-Downs Production Studio Presents:

For those who find this thread later and did not follow along the creative process that happened here, this post will summarize what befalls in the next several pages, and I will be updating it as things evolve. There is now a complete English translation available for the entire musical, created by Huinesoron and yours truly, which can be sung along to the music! Finrod-Zong: The English Libretto can be found here in its most up to date version. The page also has links available to the 2002 (Version 1) and 2014 (Version 2) performances subtitled with the newly translated songs, and links to all the other performances we could find. Sing along, karaoke-style! And if you want to play the music yourself, the chords can be found here, or here or here.

The Translated Zong In Action: artwork and visuals by Huinesoron, music arranged by G55:
1. Galadriel's Lament (instrumental) ... In Quenya: Altariello Nainie
2. The Oath of Feanor (instrumental) (live action)
3. Meeting in Neldoreth (instrumental)
4. Doriath Duet (instrumental)
5. Beren in Nargothrond (instrumental)
6. Ballad to Amarie (instrumental)
7. Renunciation of Nargothrond (instrumental) (live action)
8. Quarrel (instrumental)
9. Melian's Aria (instrumental)
10. Dream (instrumental)
11. Camp (instrumental)
12. Heart (instrumental)
13. Sauron's Minions (instrumental)
14. Duel of Song (instrumental)
15. Sons of Feanor (instrumental)
16. Hate
17. Captivity (instrumental)
18. Prison Duet
19. Wind (instrumental)
20. Truth
21. Showdown
22. Epilogue

Straight runs:
Brethil: #10-12
Act 1: #1-12
You passed from under darkened dome, you enter now the secret land. - Take me to Finrod's fabled home!... ~ Finrod: The Rock Opera

Last edited by Galadriel55; 04-13-2023 at 02:06 PM.
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