LA Opera presents “Hercules vs. Vampires” – Los Angeles opera report

 Hercules vs. Vampires header

For four nights only, starting this Thursday, April 23, LA Opera is presenting their most offbeat presentation ever. Hercules vs. Vampires combines opera and midcentury pop culture, synchronizing live music with the cult fantasy film Hercules in the Haunted World — a 1961 sword-and-sandal epic starring bodybuilder Reg Park. When the actors projected on the silver screen open their mouths to speak, the audience will hear their lines sung by the cast of singers from the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, accompanied by a 26-piece orchestra.

Directed by the great Italian filmmaker Mario Bava, the film itself is fantastic in every sense of the term, swaddled in glorious early-1960s Technicolor. Action-packed and wildly operatic in scope, the film follows Hercules on a heroic journey to rescue his beloved from a fiendish mastermind of terror (played onscreen by horror legend Christopher Lee). Fresh and full of fun, an atmospheric new operatic score by L.A.-based composer Patrick Morganelli provides the perfect accompaniment to Bava’s gorgeously gaudy world.


This mashup of contemporary music and midcentury pop culture, Hercules vs. Vampires  combines a new operatic score performed live in synch with a screening of the great Italian filmmaker Mario Bava’s 1961 sword-and-sandal epic Ercole al centro della terra, best known to American audiences as Hercules in the Haunted World.

The audience experience will be augmented with an insiders Q&A prior to each performance, featuring special guests. Popcorn, movie candy and drinks will be available for purchase for audience members to enjoy during the performance. In addition, a costume party, sponsored by Frontiers LA, will take place at the theater between the two Saturday performances.

Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite sword-and-sandal heroes and heroines.


Hercules vs. Vampires will run for a total of four performances from April 23 through 26, 2015,

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

135 N. Grand Ave.,

Los Angeles CA 90012

Performance Dates and Times:

•    Thursday, April 23, 2015, at 8pm

•    Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 7pm

•    Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 10pm

•    Sunday, April 26, 2015, at 2pm


Tickets are on sale now. Tickets range in price from $24 to $46 and can be purchased in person at the LA Opera Box Office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, by phone at 213.972.8001 or online here.

For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email here.


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About LA Opera Off Grand

Hercules vs. Vampires is presented under LA Opera’s Off Grand banner, which complements the companys mainstage programming through a wide variety of artistic exploration. “One of LA Opera’s goals is to expand the idea of what this opera company is, and who it is for,” said Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera’s President and CEO. “Our Off Grand programming helps us diversify the operatic repertory and provide access points for new audiences to experience opera on our stage. While previous Off Grand performances have taken place in venues other than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, this will be the first Off Grand production to take place in our home. Many audience members for Hercules vs. Vampires are likely to be new to opera and to experiencing a live performance in this iconic theater.”

About Hercules vs. Vampires

Hercules vs. Vampires is a musical reimagining of a film that is already highly operatic in scope, with oversized characters, a quasi-historical setting and an action-packed story. When the actors projected on the screen open their mouths to speak, the audience will hear their lines sung by a cast of 10 opera singers, accompanied by the LA Opera Orchestra. Fresh and full of fun, Morganelli’s atmospheric new score provides the perfect accompaniment to Bava’s cinematic world.


About the Film

Hercules vs. Vampires was one of several international titles used for Ercole al centro della terra (also known in English-speaking countries as Hercules in the Haunted World or Hercules in the Center of the Earth). Particular noted for its eyecatching visuals, the film was created by Mario Bava, who acted as director, cinematographer and screenwriter. The film follows mythological strongman Hercules on a heroic journey to rescue his beloved from the fiendish forces that have possessed her. Starring bodybuilder Reg Park and horror legend Christopher Lee (both dubbed into Italian for the film’s original release), Bava’s film is fantastic in every sense of the word.


About the Artists:

Patrick Morganelli is an L.A.-based composer with an established career in film and television. He is also active in the world of concert music, with recent commissions that include a violin concerto and a large work for solo piano. His song cycle Songs of Late Summer, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, will premiere in the fall of 2015.

Hercules vs. Vampires will be conducted by Christopher Allen in his LA Opera debut. Mr. Allen is an alumnus of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program who recently made his Opera Santa Barbara debut conducting Rigoletto. This summer he will make his Cincinnati Opera debut conducting the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star.

The cast of ten singers will feature nine members of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, led by baritone Kihun Yoon as the voice of Hercules. The role of Theseus will be sung by tenor Frederick Ballentine and the villainous Lycos (played onscreen by Christopher Lee) will be sung by bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee.


Learn More

Please visit their official site for additional resources about Hercules vs. Vampires, including a video trailer, audio excerpts, an interview with composer Patrick Morganelli, cast bios and more. 





Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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