Has Opera gone for Gore?

First there was "The Fly" but that was a collaboration of several film folk who worked on the 1986 film version so there is a reasonable connection with why it was done. But now there is "Repo, the genetic opera!" This latest opera is coming out in film version rather than live, so perhaps they are going for the horror film genre rather than the opera crowd, perhaps trying to become a cult hit like the "Rocky Horror Picture Show".

The basic premise is in a future where replacement organs can be purchased on a layaway plan—and are bloodily reclaimed from those who can't keep up their payments. The very plot screams for blood and gore (but not necessarily music). In a review of the music by Jimmy O (of Arrow in the Head News) he suggests the music has a hard edge, "like something Marilyn Manson should be hissing at you" with moments of real beauty, "into a kind of operatic beauty with Sarah Brightman‘s vocal abilities."

Other reviews of the film suggest the music is really good for the genre and should appeal to the target audience, even if it might not be the right cup of tea for everyone. Michael Gingold of Fangoria.com writes, "the lyrics occasionally succumb to repetition or become too on-the-nose. Just as often, though, they're powerful and moving, and delivered with gusto by the eccentric ensemble." John Anderson of Vanity.com was not as favourable overall, but still felt "Bousman has created a world limited by the story's stage roots, and, no doubt, by its budget, but he creates a unified whole within a very untidy realm. Would that the music were more memorable."

More reviews are available on the site, and all are fairly glowing of both the music and the film. There are complaints about bits and pieces, but overall everyone seems to feel the piece holds together (even if the body parts don't). If there is a way to get a new audience looking at opera, perhaps gore is the way to go.


Addendum: I went out to MySpace to listen to the music myself (the film isn't out yet).

It's hard. Personally, I found all the songs to be very similar to each other. There are differences, different beginnings, different lyrics, but eventually the music reverts back to driving distorted bar chords. It took me a while to even discern if the keys had changed (they are that similar).

Lyrics are lost in the distortion and over-driven sound on MySpace, but it's possible this is due to the low quality mp3 and should be much better in the film. The trailer has much better sound as does LastFM. Even then, the music (electronics) still occasionally gets in the way - but stylistically dead on.

The lyrics tend to be repetitive, but again that's the style. It's not mine, but it works for the genre. Sweeney Todd didn't perform so well at the cinema, and this may follow the same fate, although the music is likely to reach a larger audience with the driving beat and heavy distortion. After the film it will likely feel like attending a rock concert, and perhaps, with the visuals (from the trailer) combined with the graphic art animation style, the overall effect is right inline with the target audience. While Sondheim's music is better (IMHO), it's of a different class than at those this film is aimed.

I don't think it will spawn copycat films, as it obviously took a lot of work to create so duplicating it isn't going to be easy - and it's not going to have a large enough appeal to generate a new breed of opera. But it's nice to see the horizons expanding.

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