Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Fly at the LA Opera

My Saturday afternoon was a mixture of science fiction, philosophy, and...opera. I was familiar with the story of The Fly from years ago, but I never thought of it as a story to fit the opera. Yet, as I watched The Fly on Saturday afternoon, the pieces fell into the role well, dredging up the darker side of humanity like only an opera can. Contrary to the title, The Fly is about humanity from start to finish - what it means to be human, the desire to be more, and finding sometimes too late that what we should most appreciate we already have.

The Fly made its world premiere in Paris in July before making its LA premiere earlier this month with the Los Angeles Opera. The score was written by Howard Shore, who composed the score for the 1986 film that inspired the opera (though the musical scores are completely different). (Sidenote: The entire "Fly" franchise is all based on a 1957 short story by George Langelann. He passed on in 1969 and was probably able to see the 1950s films inspired by the story, but I wonder if he ever thought his story would become an opera?)

I can't do a comparitive between the 1986 film and the opera because it's been awhile since I've seen the film, but I don't think it'd be quite fair to do so. Both are different mediums that hold different expectations. The thing that holds the two together is a story that can probably adhere to any medium because it calls out to human desire and innovation - the ability of a man with even extraordinary intelligence to still act stupidly human with the extraordinary.

While the music and the singers carried this story well, what stands out most in my memory, is the set design and the visual effects. Set in the 1950s, the technology of Seth Brundle the Scientist was still something to amaze oneself at and was done quite creatively with the elements of the story. The computers at times acted as chorus or provided expository dialogue for the passing of time. The opera integrated puppetry to convey visual effects - which worked particularly well when having to depict the failed experiments of Brundle.

The Fly has the ability to transport your imagination and immerse yourself in a story with a lesson you appreciate being reminded of (and a number of humorous lines here and there to break up the darker elements of the story). And as a bonus prize for the geekiest of the bunch, there's a song in there just for us - I mean, you!

Unfortunately, The Fly ended its LA Opera run on Saturday, but the season's practically just begun and there's plenty more to see. Check out the 2008-2009 LA Opera Season on ExperienceLA.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

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