Cremaster 5 opens with an overture that introduces the opera’s characters and lays out the map of Budapest that the narrative will traverse. The Magician crosses the Lánchíd Bridge on horseback. The Queen ascends the staircase of the Hungarian State Opera House with her two ushers. She settles onto her throne in the royal booth, and the ushers arrange a fleet of Jacobin pigeons around her. Pearls float on the surface of the pools in the Gellért Thermal Baths, partially concealing the Füdór sprites, who inhabit their underwater realms. The curtain rises to an empty theater, the conductor readies his orchestra, and the opera begins.
When total descension is finally attained in CREMASTER 5 (1997), it is envisioned as a tragic love story set in the romantic dreamscape of late-nineteenth-Century Budapest. The film is cast in the shape of a lyric opera. Biological metaphors shifted form to inhabit emotional states – longing and despair – that become musical leitmotivs in the orchestral score. The opera’s primary characters – the Queen of Chain (played by Ursula Andress) and her Diva, Magician, and Giant (all played by Barney) – enact collectively the final release promised by the project as a whole. —Wikipedia
Matthew Barney was born in San Francisco in 1967; at age six, he moved to Idaho with his family. After his parents divorced, Barney continued to live with his father in Idaho, playing football on his high school team, and visiting his mother in New York City, where he was introduced to art and museums. This intermingling of sports and art informs his work as a sculptor and filmmaker. After graduating from Yale in 1991, Barney entered the art world to almost instant controversy and success. He is best known as the producer and creator of the “CREMASTER” films, a series of five visually extravagant works created out of sequence (“CREMASTER 4” began the cycle, followed by “CREMASTER 1,” etc.). The films generally feature Barney in myriad roles, including characters as diverse as a satyr, a magician, a ram, Harry Houdini, and even the infamous murderer Gary Gilmore. The title of the films refers to the muscle that raises and lowers the male reproductive system according to temperature… read more