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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6 Responses to Help Me! Heeelp Meee!

  1. Michele Vallisneri says:

    I am going, next Wednesday. Meet you there?

  2. Clifford says:

    Gosh… so soon. Had not thought to go then. Let me see.


  3. spyder says:

    The original film was so very entertaining, and the remake was actually pretty well done considering the genre and the times. All this only leads me to wonder, when will the operatic versions of Them, the Blob, Crab Monsters of Piedras Blancos, and Creature from the Black Lagoon (though the actual cinematic remake of that last one comes out next year)begin to appear???

  4. Sara T. says:

    Hey Clifford, I coulda seen “The Fly” for free, but opted for Il Tritico (Woody Allen’s operatic directorial debut!) instead….this came about because I was asked to participate in an LAOpera focus group in July – quite fun! A group of 10 of us who were in the 1-3 operas/year category reviewed AD COPY for The Fly for 2.5 hours. Really a fun experience, I’d never participated in such a group before. The reward was free tickets, either to The Fly or Il Tritico. While I think the drama of the story is well suited to opera, and the stagecraft sounds amazing, the story has always creeped me out! Does this comment make you want to attend more, or less?! 😎

  5. Clifford says:

    More! Curious about the stagecraft.


  6. Sara T. says:

    Well, the ad copy didn’t have the stage shot on all the examples, but the bits we saw had the transformer machine (or whatever its called) looking like an interesting cross between R. Giger/Alien and Victorian machines w/ brass, and aesthetic bulginess and such. And the scientist emerging from a door something like a submarine’s/Capt. Nemo’s amidst smoke/vapor and either nude (its an adult opera) or as the fly. Dramatic looking! Some of the copy had the Galileo-inspired design, which the Opera is using for some stuff. Some copy was too wordy, other not wordy enough, per our group. It was fun to give input to an advance look, hope we influenced the decision a bit! LHC rocks!