Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I'm not a major Opera fan.  This fact is evident when I tell you that I've only been to two operas in the past 8 years. If I were more of an opera fan Nashville certainly provides plenty of opportunity to enjoy this particular performing art with a group well on it's way to major status. Still, it takes something that appeals to my odd sensibilities to get me to visit the opera.   

HERCULES VS. THE VAMPIRES is certainly not your average Opera. It was a commissioned work done by composer Patrick Morganelli and it is built around the brilliant Mario Bava film HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961). The Opera was commissioned by the Opera Theater Oregon in Portland in 2009. After its successful 2010 run there it was produced a few years later in Los Angeles and now, finally, it comes to Nashville.

I was completely surprised when I read that the Nashville Opera Company was going to be producing this peace and immediately bought tickets. I had been made aware of this opera's existence by a couple of Portland area podcasting friends but never thought I'd get a chance to see it. I am incredibly glad that I did. The Opera is staged in an odd way especially if you have an idea of how an opera is usually produced. A 74 minute edited version of Bava's film is projected above the stage while  both the Orchestra and vocalists on the stage beneath perform their accompaniment, telling the story as the film plays out. I have to say that I know this film very well having watched it at least half a dozen times in the past 15 years and, while I don't like seeing it trimmed down, this version of the film is a wonder to behold. The music is incredible, matching the action onscreen and brilliantly enhancing the motional content at every turn. The fantastic music alone makes a viewing of this opera well worth the trip to the theater. The Morganelli's re-staging and clarification of the story points of the film are quite smart bringing the rather episodic tale a smoothness that it otherwise lacks. The trimming of the film is barely noticeable unless you know the film very well and can point out just how truncated certain secondary characters stories actually are.

The audience was encouraged to cheer the heroes, boo the villain and get into the spirit of things at any opportunity. It was great to be part of a huge group of people laughing, clapping and hissing at the evil Christopher Lee as the Hercules adventure played out on the big screen Surely this is what going to the opera was like a few hundred years ago before it became high culture and stodginess set in! HERCULES VS. THE VAMPIRES was a fantastic night of entertainment and if you ever get the chance to see this one yourself, I highly recommend it. I just wish it had played more than one night in Nashville so more people could get to see it. 

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