In Hercules vs. Vampires, a Mythic Hero Embarks on an Operatic Adventure with Bloodsuckers and Other Beasts | Music Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

In Hercules vs. Vampires, a Mythic Hero Embarks on an Operatic Adventure with Bloodsuckers and Other Beasts 

Ghouls, monsters, and other creatures abound this time of year, and this weekend, they make their way to Meymandi Concert Hall for N.C. Opera's adventurous presentation of Hercules vs. Vampires. The company started its 2016–17 season strong in September with Wagner's Das Rheingold, but Los Angeles composer Patrick Morganelli's work veers in a decidedly less traditional direction.

The basis of the program is director Mario Bava's cult sword-and-sandals film from 1961, Hercules in the Haunted World, which is screened behind the production's singers. The epic hero must save his Princess Deinira, who has lost her mind in an unspecified way, recalling Ghostbusters' spirit-stricken Dana in "only Zuul" mode. The villain, Lico, wants to drink her blood to usurp her power.

The piece began as a commission for the Portland Symphony, which premiered it in 2010; Morganelli revised it for a 2015 iteration with a larger orchestra in Los Angeles. Sunday's show in Raleigh is its East Coast premiere. The city might not be on most people's minds as an opera destination, but Morganelli says that N.C. Opera's programming speaks for itself beyond state lines.

"Once upon a time, even though you always had some very serious operas, opera was very much considered entertainment. North Carolina Opera really understands that," Morganelli says. "They want to produce the great, serious works and do them extremely well. But they understand that opera should also be entertainment, and it shouldn't be a homework assignment for people."

N.C. Opera's artistic and creative director, Tim Myers, tapped his friend Shawn Galvin to conduct the production. Galvin co-leads New Music Raleigh and has participated in most of of N.C. Opera's performances since he moved to the Triangle in 2008. But Hercules vs. Vampires finds Galvin conducting the N.C. Opera for the first time, a position he says is a natural extension of his investment in new works by living composers.

As Galvin points out, it's common for orchestras and other institutions to re-create film scores alongside movies—in fact, Duke Performances is doing so Saturday night with Alejandro Iñárritu's Birdman (see p. 29). But Morganelli's feat, Galvin says, reaches another level of artistry, with an entirely new score and libretto that precisely matches the film's action from moment to moment.

"Part of the brilliance of what Patrick did with this score is that he meticulously timed the live vocal parts that you'll hear in the performance to exactly when the actors in the original film are opening their mouths," Galvin says.

"It was far and away, technically, the most difficult project I've ever worked on," Morganelli adds.

The film itself is a strange, visually striking romp through ancient Greece and the underworld, and the era's practical effects add another level of intrigue and comedy to Hercules's plot. If it's not quite a tale for the ages, it's a good one for a Sunday afternoon.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Vampire Weekend"

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

There's no such thing as "zoned as an art gallery."

by Ethan Clauset on Durham Jazz Club The Shed Suddenly Closes After Conflicts with Golden Belt's New Landlords (Music Feature)

Continuing with James' thought, disappointing (but not shocking) that the journalists who charged themselves with reporting on this pursued it …

by JayDubz on Following Accusations of Rampant Misogyny and More, a Raleigh Promoter's Career Is Effectively Over. What Comes Next? (Music Feature)

Most Recent Comments

There's no such thing as "zoned as an art gallery."

by Ethan Clauset on Durham Jazz Club The Shed Suddenly Closes After Conflicts with Golden Belt's New Landlords (Music Feature)

Continuing with James' thought, disappointing (but not shocking) that the journalists who charged themselves with reporting on this pursued it …

by JayDubz on Following Accusations of Rampant Misogyny and More, a Raleigh Promoter's Career Is Effectively Over. What Comes Next? (Music Feature)

Could we possibly have talked about how one scathing accusation took out a person's lively hood with no investigation at …

by James Olin Oden on Following Accusations of Rampant Misogyny and More, a Raleigh Promoter's Career Is Effectively Over. What Comes Next? (Music Feature)

Oh! So AIR HORN bands are cool but not vuvuzela bands?! Smacks of prejudice to me!

by Shocka Kahn on Batalá Durham's Central Park Standoff with Liberty Warehouse Residents Is Gentrification in Motion (Music Feature)

Ahmmmmmm, who was there first?

by Diana Ligets Bello on Batalá Durham's Central Park Standoff with Liberty Warehouse Residents Is Gentrification in Motion (Music Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation