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Frankel has always wanted to make a film that incorporated opera into its storyline. The American director has a personal connection: his father trained to sing opera when he was a teenager. "He has a beautiful tenor voice to this day and has always loved opera," says Frankel. In his youth, his parents took him to see all the classics. "I had an education; I have a sense of the great composers but I couldn't tell you the plot of Figaro," he laughs. "I just learned the plot of Aida the other day while we were shooting a scene about it, and it's so convoluted I can't even remember it now. But going into this movie, I didn't appreciate how much I would fall in love with the arias. The music is so beautiful and part of the great fun of making this movie is getting to share that."

"I like that this story manages to be both sweet and funny in equal measure," says Frankel. "Those are two adjectives that I'd love to see used to describe all my movies. It has elements of a fable and yet it happened in real life."

From THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA to MARLEY & ME to HOPE SPRINGS, Frankel brings a consistent tone to the stories he tells and feels just as comfortable with the belly laughs and comic sensibility in a narrative arc as he does delivering the knock-out emotional blow. His films are full of heart and he's not afraid to get sentimental -- a dirty word in some people's eyes, but handled sublimely by Frankel. He was the perfect man to direct Potts' story and to get the optimum performance from Corden.

"The humor in David's films is never cruel," observes Thykier. "You might laugh at the circumstances Paul finds himself in and some of the things that happen to him, but you're never laughing at Paul in this film. The humor rises out of the drama, and you can recognize that from David's previous films."

Frankel and Corden collaborated together to finesse Zackham's script. As the director observes, "James is a brilliant writer himself and has phenomenal instincts about drama and comedy." He credits Corden with thinking up a creative solution for introducing Potts' family into the story that would rely on music rather than dialogue. "It's Chaplin-esque," Frankel says. "It takes all the words away and makes something that could have been prosaic really extraordinary. He had those instincts all the way through."

"I've loved working with David," echoes Corden. "When I asked him why he wanted to make the film, he said that he was really interested in people's hidden talents. He's so passionate about this story."

Corden's co-star Alexandra Roach also found herself smitten by Frankel and the laid-back, all- encouraging atmosphere that he cultivates on his sets. And she couldn't believe that she was getting to work with the director of one of her all-time favorite films. "I cried so much at the end of MARLEY & ME," she laughs. "There's a magic with his films that he's able to get the audience to feel exactly what he wants them to feel at a specific time. It's my first leading role in a feature film and quite a big milestone for me as an actress, and he made me feel so comfortable. Any nerves I felt coming in completely evaporated because he is so supportive and wonderful. He let me fly."

Frankel also shared an important shard of information with his leading lady, telling her that none other than Meryl Streep -- who had starred in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and played the older Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY -- had given her seal of approval to Roach's casting. "Apparently, she sent a text to David when he was auditioning that said, 'Hire her'," the Welsh actress marvels. "That's lovely. I wish I could get that text printed and paper my wall with it."

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