You will recognize the technique at once as the one used by Syberberg in Parsifal (modified by Bergman in The Magic Flute, and Nunn in Porgy and Bess). Stravinsky invented it for Renard, of course, where dancers do the parts on stage and the singers are in the pit. The idea here is to translate the opera into cinema by putting actors in front of the camera to represent a pre-recorded sound track, precisely as in a Hollywood musical. Long takes can make this extremely demanding, and it comes as something of a surprise to anyone ignorant of her early career that Sophia Loren even so young is a great and accomplished actress. The endless variety of her through-composed accompaniment to Verdi’s music, as skillfully staged by Fracassi, makes this a superb film and an ideal rendition.

The style is the very best of Italy. The singing is led by Renata Tebaldi, Massine has the ballet, and Lois Maxwell as Amneris lends an air of invention one associates in imagination with the grand mysteries of the English pantomime.