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'Hercules vs. Vampires' Mashes Up A B-Movie And Opera This Weekend

Still image from the 1961 Mario Bava film 'Ercole al Centro della Terra,' which is the basis of Patrick Morganelli's opera 'Hercules vs. Vampires.' (Image: Courtesy of the LA Opera)
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If you’re intimidated by the opera, with your exposure to Wagner limited the Bugs Bunny short, “What’s Opera, Doc?” and Bizet’s Habanera sounds familiar only because of a car commercial or a Gilligan’s Island episode, then this weekend’s LA Opera presentation of Hercules vs. Vampires might be right up your alley. The pop-culture mashup mixes a B-movie classic with a new operatic soundtrack by L.A.-based composer Patrick Morganelli, performed live. Yes, it’s campy and kitschy—but it sounds like a whole lot of awesome.

During each performance, the LA Opera screens Mario Bava’s 1961 film Hercules vs. Vampires (Ercole al centro della terra). It’s an epic in every sense of the word as Hercules must venture into Hades to retrieve a magic stone to free his lady love from whomever—or whatever—has possessed her. When the onscreen characters open their mouths to speak, the audience will hear the lines sung by the cast of opera singers, led by baritone Kihun Yoon (voice of Hercules), bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee (in the villainous role played by Christopher Lee), and accompanied by the LA Opera Orchestra.

Hercules vs. Vampires is part of the LA Opera's Off Grand series, which expands the definition of “opera” to attract newer audiences. The short four-performance run begins on Thursday (April 23) night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at 8 pm. There are two performances on Saturday night and a Sunday matinee. Morganelli gives free pre-concert talks 45 minutes before Thursday’s show, the Saturday 7 pm show and the Sunday matinee in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall.

In keeping with cinematic traditions, popcorn, movie candy and drinks will be available for purchase to snack on during the shows. If you really want to get into the spirit of things, then come dressed in your best Herculean-era attire to a Frontiers LA-sponsored costume party, which takes place at the theater in between the Saturday night performances.

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Hercules vs. Vampires is at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, this weekend: April 23 at 8 pm, April 25 at 7 and 10 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets range from $24 to $46.