Help Me! Heeelp Meee!

the fly operaSorry. Didn’t mean to cry wolf, but I always think of that great (as in camp and amusing) ending scene when I think of The Fly. The movie, anyway. (That’s in the original 1958 movie version – clip at bottom of this post.) Now there’s an opera! I am not joking. David Cronenberg has teamed with composer Howard Shore to create an opera. (You know the work of both of them rather well, actually, from film work together, and separately – Shore did the wonderful music for films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Cronenberg the film director needs no introduction.) I love the play on Da Vinci’s iconic drawing for the production’s publicity and so forth. See above right.

The artists are of the opinion (and I agree, in principle) that the themes visited in the story are powerful and resonant enough for an opera. Science, science ethics, new technology, fear of same, mercy killing… and presumably devotion to a cause, understanding (or lack thereof?) of those close to you… Definitely excellent themes for any drama, so why not opera? Specifically, from the science side of things, there’s genetics and genetic modification on the program…and teleportation (see my earlier comments on teleportation in a film here). The story (from a 1957 short story by George Langelaan – nice summary here) concerns a scientist who, while trying to perfect and test his newly discovered form of transportation (a kind of teleportation), gets himself horribly mixed up with a fly. Yeah, I know – Don’t you just hate when your physics experiments inadvertently turn into biology experiments, or vice-versa?

I learned a good deal about the opera from this excellent report (with interviews) on NPR’s All Things considered. Have a listen. Pity that (from the picture caption there) NPR seems to be playing up the all-too-tired “mad scientist” cliche, though. I wonder if that is the thrust of the opera? Will be interesting to see what they do with this.

What do you think? Will you be in line when it premieres in your city? It makes its American debut at the Los Angeles Opera this season, directed by Cronenberg, conducted by Plácido Domingo. I think I’ll try to go!


P.S. And here is the promised clip:

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