Tilda Swinton Directs Dogs In Film

It appears in opera exhibition in New York
By Karen B. London PhD, April 2019, Updated June 2021

The Glass Handel project features stars from dance, painting, music, fashion and film to showcase the music of George Frideric Handel and Philip Glass. This operatic art event features a range of artists with the goal being “to create a new way to experience live music, offering each audience member a unique immersion.”

I’m primarily interested in the dog piece that appears as a part of the extravaganza. (Shocking, I know.) The canine contribution to this innovative art installation is a short film co-directed by actress Tilda Swinton and visual artist Sandro Kopp, who have been in a relationship for about 15 years. The film shows her dogs playing on a beach in Scotland and is set to Handel’s aria “Rompo i Lacci” from his opera Flavio (sung by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo).

Since those producing the Glass Handel project seek to make opera more accessible and enjoyable for their audience, it was a stroke of genius to include dogs in their presentation. The beauty and powerful emotions of the music are enhanced by the movements of the dogs, most especially during their leaping bout from about 2:40 until 3:30. The dogs are shown at a variety of speeds from slow motion to dramatically sped up, which helps coordinate their actions with the changes of pace in the music.

Did this film add anything to your appreciation of opera?

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life