Opera Gothic: Hercules vs. Vampires | NBC Southern California

Opera Gothic: Hercules vs. Vampires

Watch the famous flick roll as live singers sing the lines, at LA Opera.

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    Hercules in the Haunted World
    Watch 1961's "Hercules in the Haunted World" roll as live singers sing the lines, at LA Opera.

    Sassing back to movie screens, over what was being said and done, was raised to a high art form by the comic crew at "Mystery Science Theatre 3000," and later via Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax, two merry offshoots of MST3K.

    Acting out scenes in front of a slapdash screen placed at one end of a bar or pub had its pop culture moment, too, via movie karaoke. It was the ultimate way to prove to your friends, once and for all, you can quote every movie line ever (if you didn't beef it up).

    But sitting inside one of the world's great performance halls, while a luridly lavish Technicolor flick, one laden with shiny muscles and supernatural elements, unspools while live singers sing?

    Call it a more highbrow and definitely droller spin on the phenomenon of film participation.

    And it is one that the LA Opera is jumping into, both feet — er, sandals — first. The company, along with American Cinematheque, is set to screen "Hercules in the Haunted World," the 1961 visual feast from lauded Italian cinéaste Mario Bava, on April 23, 25, and 26 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 

    As for the movie end of things? Bodybuilder Reg Park is Hercules and his adventures, vampiric and otherwise, are a lusty swirl of candy-colored intensity.

    Co-starring with Hercules? Swords, flames, myth, magic, demons, adventure, royalty, and all-out strangeness. Oh, and Christopher Lee!

    As for the performance end of things? Every line in the film will be sung, live, by performers from the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. An orchestra will join in (some 26 chairs in all, making for a sound as big as the images on the screen). Listen for a new score by LA's own Patrick Morganelli.

    What if every film had its lines sung, live, right before our eyes? We mean ears? It's a fresh way to approach cinema. And consider that while the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was once the home of the Oscars, it doesn't screen films all that often.

    Call it a return of an old form, and old friend, for the venue, albeit a friend that's getting a modern update through live performance and fizzy new orchestration.

    Vampires! At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion! Seriously, it kind of fits in a wonderfully gothic, elegantly arch way. We're donning our cape now. 

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