Arts, Culture & Media

'The Fly' lands in Paris


Ruxandra Donose , left, and Daniel Okulitch in Howard Shore's opera "The Fly," directed by David Cronenberg. (Image:

Remember the 1986 film "The Fly" -- starring Jeff Goldblum? Or the 1958 version, with Vincent Price? Well, the fictional mad scientist at the center of the story, Seth Brundle, has just sprouted wings again.

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This time, The Fly has landed on stage in Paris…as an opera. Placido Domingo is conducting the orchestra. The director is David Cronenburg - the same guy who directed the 1986 movie. "The World's" Gerry Hadden caught a performance at Paris's Chatelet Theater.

When seeing an opera, it helps to know the story beforehand. The Fly is no different. So here goes: Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy morphs into housefly. Body parts start falling off. Girl kills him.

It's a creepy story ... and composer Howard Shore delivers creepiness from the start.

The curtain opens on Dr. Seth Brundle's destroyed lab. Amidst the trash and the broken teleport pods intrepid reporter Veronica Quaife recounts Brundle's tragic tale .

Make no mistake. This IS classic tragedy: the story of a man who se ambition drives him to the pinnacle of success, then pushes him over the edge. Way over the edge.

When the opera ends the crowd cheers enthusiastically. Granted this isn't your typical Parisian opera crowd.

An American named Pamela Levy caught the show from the mezzanine. She called it a "mind-blower."

French critics have been less kind to "The Fly." Le Figaro's critic said he was so bored he began to suspect he'd been bitten by a sleep-inducing Tse-Tse fly ... the cast wasn't surprised by that sort of high-brow beating, said Brundle under-study Laurent Alvaro after the performance.

Alvaro: "They criticized the music, the orchestration , the libretto and so on. It was expected. I suppose because celebrities like Domingo and Kronenberg are involved, the snobby side of Paris has no choice but to slam us."

The Fly has finished its Paris run. It alights for Los Angeles in September, for its U.S. debut.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

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