Tuesday, September 9, 2008
LA Opera's "The Fly"
Yes, it's exactly what you think. David Cronenberg's 1986 remake of the 1958 horror movie, "The Fly," has been turned into an opera. The 1986 movie is the one that was advertised with the tagline, "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid."
Like Shrek: The Musical, The Fly: The Opera has an impressive set of people behind its creation: Howard Shore, who wrote the score for the movie, has written the score for the opera; David Henry Hwang has written the libretto; David Cronenberg is directing the opera; Placido Domingo is conducting; and the sets are designed by Dante Ferretti (Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd").
The opera played in Paris this summer and is now at the Los Angeles Opera. There's been no shortage of pre-show news coverage: The New York Times, NPR, KNBC, the Los Angeles Times.
The review in the LA Times, however, was not flattering: "...[I]n L.A. Opera's ongoing monster mash (the commission before "Grendel" was Deborah Drattell's 'Nicholas and Alexandra,' which featured Rasputin), music has ranked in importance somewhere below makeup. I'm sorry to have to agree with the French critics who saw 'The Fly' first and began the string of bad buzz jokes. The premiere was two months ago in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet, which co-commissioned the work. The reaction was unkind....And yes, the film's famous line, 'Be afraid, be very afraid,' is heard, and more than once -- the first time with squealing music underneath that all but begs for a laugh."
The AP review is also not positive: "...[A]n opera thrives on the composer's creation, and Howard Shore's score is background music with few highlights."
And the NY Times review is blunt: "Now and then the music grabs you, as in an extended love duet for Brundle and Veronica. Finally, here are captivating lyrical phrases that flow with halting, elusive restraint, cushioned by bittersweet orchestral harmonies. Mr. Shore has clear strengths as a composer and may have a good opera in him. 'The Fly' is not it."