Jerry Pournelle often reviews Los Angeles Opera productions on Chaos Manor, and while anybody is entitled to their opinion, I suspect he is one of the few science fiction writers with extensive personal experience in staging operas. So fans may be all the more interested in what he has to say about the company’s performance of The Fly:
The singers acted very well indeed, and all looked their parts. The set was imaginative and well done as was costuming. The libretto was excellent. Indeed, I liked everything about The Fly except that there was no music. There was a passable movie score for background, but the singers did their lines in recititative throughout the opera.
Pournelle also has ideas for making the score more operatic.
How many times have you seen a review of the latest Hollywood epic say, “Great FX, but….”? Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic, feels the same about the Los Angeles Opera’s production of The Fly:
Just about any subject is ripe for opera. The film world and lyric stage have been influencing and stealing from each other since the days of silents. Brundlefly is no less reasonable a character for musical amplification than Rigoletto.
Yet in 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.
If you’d like to see and hear for yourself, click on the L.A. Opera site. There are many photos and several videos of the Paris and Los Angeles productions of The Fly. The L.A. company is shown here in an audiovisual outline of the story, and a second video samples the vocal performances.
An operatic version of “The Fly” was set to debut at the Los Angeles Opera on September 7. NPR’s “All Things Considered” ran a story on September 5:
A man who accidentally recombines his DNA with an insect during an experiment? Exactly what you’d expect from science fiction. It’s not what you’d expect from opera.
There’s an audio excerpt as well, running 5 minutes, 31 seconds.
[Via Middle Tennessee Science Fiction Society newsletter # 71, and Andrew Porter.]
Paris in July — what better place and time to premiere David Cronenberg’s operatic adaptation of his 1986 horror film The Fly? I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course. I have no choice — The Fly will make its North American debut this September in my own home town, at the Los Angeles Opera.
The lead singer shared all the queasy details with the Toronto Globe and Mail: “‘One of the things I’m doing in Paris is being fitted for the prosthetics for my gradual transformation [into the fly creature]. And there are telepods and smoke and teleportation and videos of exploding baboons. There’s a lot going on,’ he said, with a slight laugh.”
(Thanks to Andrew Porter for the pointer.)