Home Entertainment Extravaganza Opinions of Professional Conductors on Bradley Cooper in “Maestro” and Cate Blanchett in “Tár” by Monomaxos

Opinions of Professional Conductors on Bradley Cooper in “Maestro” and Cate Blanchett in “Tár” by Monomaxos

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Opinions of Professional Conductors on Bradley Cooper in “Maestro” and Cate Blanchett in “Tár” by Monomaxos

For those immersed in the world of conducting, the past couple of years have brought a surge of excitement. Reflecting on this, Andrew Resnick, known for directing productions like The Cher Show and Parade on Broadway, mentions, “Rarely is this facet of my profession showcased to a broader audience.” With the releases of Tár last year and Maestro this year, the limelight has shifted towards the art of conducting.

This shift inevitably sparked discussions about the performances of the main actors in these films. Both Cate Blanchett as the titular character Lydia Tár and Bradley Cooper portraying the maestro Leonard Bernstein, intricately portrayed conductors with complex personal lives. Serving as the focal point, both actors commanded attention while standing before orchestras, conducting live performances. Do actual conductors believe they delivered authentic portrayals?

Mostly, yes. Resnick acknowledges, “I commend both for placing themselves in such a vulnerable position and truly embodying the roles.”

The notable distinction lies in Blanchett crafting a character from scratch – a confident, influential lesbian spiraling towards downfall – while Cooper aimed to channel the essence of the widely documented Bernstein. Both actors received guidance from industry professionals: Natalie Murray Beale whereas Cooper consulted with music director of the Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, for his role in Maestro. Cooper divulged spending years preparing for a specific sequence for six years where Bernstein conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 at Ely Cathedral in the UK.

David Bloom, renowned for teaching conducting at NYU and performing at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, commended Blanchett’s effort. “I was genuinely surprised by Cate Blanchett’s conducting skills,” he remarks, “Her technique appears precise and effective.”

Bloom observed how Blanchett infused her character Lydia’s bold and confident persona into her conducting style. “I find her conducting slightly pretentious, possibly a reflection of how she interprets and embodies the character,” he adds.

A scene from Tar.

A scene from Tár.© Focus Features/Everett Collection.

Resnick expressed a more reserved opinion on Blanchett’s technique. He notes, “If Lydia Tár truly possesses the excellence attributed to her, I anticipated a higher level of proficiency in her conducting.” He likened her style to that of someone who might have conducted for a few years or had intensive training during a summer program or undergraduate studies. “It lacked the authority expected from someone of her standing. Nevertheless, given the timeframe for her training, she did an admirable job,” he comments.

In contrast, both conductors agreed that Cooper captured Bernstein’s fervor and vigor. Bernstein’s performance of Mahler remains popular among conducting enthusiasts. “I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve revisited that footage — countless times,” Resnick reveals. Cooper’s portrayal aligns closely with the original. “His commitment and passion were palpable. He managed to encapsulate the essence of that footage in an incredibly authentic manner.” Resnick shares minor critiques, “While a few instances showcased added flair, overall, he nailed the essence. Replicating such authenticity is quite challenging but he succeeded in making it seem real and genuine.”

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