Van Dam (Leporello in Losey's Don Giovanni) plays a great baritone who retires at the height of his powers to teach two young pupils in his château: dewy-eyed Sophie (Roussel) and vulnerable street-thief Jean (Volter). Not since James Mason whisked schoolgirl Ann Todd to pianistic stardom in what seemed six months flat (The Seventh Veil) has the training of musical genius slipped by so smoothly, thanks to lyrical landscapes, sumptuous pre-WWI social swish, and doses of soundtrack Mahler. A showdown with the protégé of Van Dam's old enemy gives the chance of hearing tenors duel in a rare Bellini aria, well timed for a public apparently insatiable for the Domingo/Pavarotti/Carreras sound. Jerome Pruett's dubbed voice isn't in that league, and the film won't do for song competitions what Breaking Away did for bicycle races. MHoy.