Uncovering Curiosities: Dario Argento’s OPERA
Opera sees giallo master Dario Argento working at his most gloriously OTT and this 1987 mystery contains all the traits you would expect from the Italian director: mystery, lust, violence and impressive camera work. The film also features music from frequent Argento collaborator Claudio Simonetti, as well as the mighty Brian Eno and Rolling Stone Bill Wyman!
Opera (aka Terror At The Opera) takes place around a a particularly jinxed production of Verdi’s Macbeth, one which sees the leading Lady Macbeth hit by a car to be replaced by Cristina Marsillach’s young understudy. A series of grisly murders befall the show and it looks like the opera’s new star just might have a connection to the murderer, one which stretches back to her childhood.
A wonderfully good looking film, Opera revels in its soap opera trappings. The acting (and dubbing) is loose and far from perfect, but it all adds to the heightened reality that Argento is stitching together. The mystery killer’s penchant for taping our heroine’s eyes open with needles is a nifty angle, adding a touch of (Kubrick) inspired evil to proceedings. The whole thing is far-fetched and nonsensical but there’s fun to be had if you let Argento lead you into his own, stylish world where the ceilings are high and the set design is sumptuous. Argento’s films exist on their own higher visual plain, offering up far-fetched thrills which even out DePalma Brian DePalma. Opera is no different.
Ultimately, Opera may be nothing new from Dario Argento, but he knows what he wants and he delivers this with all the panache that you would expect.