Theater Reviews



Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Sunday, Sept. 7; runs through Sept. 27).

Given the credentials of the artists who worked on "The Fly," the result may well be a talking point for a new generation of opera lovers who grew up on a diet of science fiction films.

David Cronenberg's 1986 film, with a score by Howard Shore -- who also wrote the score for this opera -- was originally based on a 1957 short story by George Langelaan (which in turn was made into a 1958 horror classic starring Vincent Price). Shore always felt the story's arc belonged in an opera and proposed it to LA Opera's Placido Domingo, who gave him the commission. Shore brought in David Cronenberg to direct and Henry David Hwang to write the libretto, and a new form was born.

The tale of a far-out scientific experiment going astray, on a tapestry of a love triangle, passion, doom and the ultimate sacrifice, death, almost makes sense. The love story between the strapping Seth Brundle (Daniel Okulitch) and the lovely science reporter Veronica Quaife (Ruxandra Donose) is a perfect given for a scenario: two beautiful people in love, and almost with their eyes on the same prize.

Donose is lovely, her voice and style perfect for the romantic heroine. Okulitch, lithe and capable, with a pretty fine voice besides (he was in Baz Luhrmann's "La Boheme" and created the role of the Fly in the Paris premiere production of the opera).

What's difficult to make sense of is the sci-fi content of the material. Verdi or Puccini might well have had problems writing to lyrics that contained references to telepods and the regurgitation of digestive fluids, or about a woman who may have been inseminated by a very large, teleported Musca domestica. Poetic language doesn't contain the words; nor does music contain the notes. That's a huge barrier for singers, musicians, directors, conductors and a contemporary audience to hurdle.

The LA Opera Orchestra is a collection of yeoman musicians who are called on to produce the right tones and notes, regardless of the origin of the opera or the story. And they do it time after time, but for the librettists, how do you rhyme telepods with moonlight and roses?

Cast: Daniel Okulitch, Ruxandra Donose, Gary Lehman, Beth Clayton, Jay Hunter Morris, Ashlyn Rust. Composer: Howard Shore. Libretto: David Henry Hwang. Conductor: Placido Domingo. Director: David Cronenberg. Set designer: Dante Ferretti. Costume designer: Denise Cronenberg. Fly makeup/creative designer: Stephan L. Bupuis. Lighting designer: A.J. Weissbard.