Julianne Moore took the challenge of playing an opera singer in movie Bel Canto very seriously.
The Oscar-winning actress portrays a famous American soprano named Roxane Coss in the Paul Weitz-directed drama, which is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Ann Patchett.
Taking on the part of a singer was a daunting task for Julianne, but she has now explained that she took lessons from professional performers prior to filming.
“I studied with a coach, Gerald Martin Moore, who was so lovely and generous, and really taught me the same way he would teach a singer,” she told Town and Country magazine, adding that she even had to learn new languages for the part. “I don’t speak any of these languages, so I learned by sound – almost by syllable.”
Though Julianne invested a lot of time learning how to sing opera, the voice heard in the film is that of soprano Renee Fleming. Accordingly, filmmaker Paul was delighted with the final result.
“It was a specific decision to ask Renee to do the voice of the character. What I was hoping for was some sort of alchemy,” he explained. “With actors you’re always hoping to get out of their way to help them find their character. I knew that if I got out of the way of Julianne and Renee, that’s what would happen.”
But Bel Canto isn’t just about music, and in the major narrative thread, Roxane becomes trapped in a hostage situation when she’s invited to perform for a wealthy industrialist in South America. And Julianne is thrilled that the film respects the original story.
“It was one of those books that I remember coming out. There was a big to-do about it, but I hadn’t read it because it always seemed like it was on the verge of being made into a movie,” she smiled.
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