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Terror at the Opera (Opera) 
Written by: on March 23rd, 2010

Theatrical Release Date:
Italy, 1987
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Barbara Cupisti, Cristina Marsillach, Antonella Vitale, William McNamara, John Charleson

DVD released: March 22nd, 2010
Approximate running time: 103 minutes (International Theatrical Version), 92 minutes (U.S. Theatrical Version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English (Re-Dubbed version), Dolby Digital Stereo English (Cannes Version), Dolby Digital Stereo Italian (International Theatrical Version), Dolby Digital Stereo English (Re-Dubbed version), Dolby Digital Stereo English (Cannes Version) – (U.S. Theatrical Version)
Subtitles: English subtitles (International Theatrical Version)
DVD Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99

Synopsis: A young opera singer named Betty (Cristina Marsillach) is thrust into the spotlight right before opening night of Verdi’s Macbeth with the opera’s leading lady Mara Czekova is injured. A crazed fan stalks Betty forcing her to watch as the stalker kills everyone close to her. Will Betty be able to unmask her stalker before she becomes his next victim?

In 1987 Dario Argento would direct what many of his fans consider his last great film Opera. The film reportedly would be made during one of the most tumultuous times of Dario’s life with the passing of his father and ending of a lengthy relationship with actress Daria Nicolodi. The films plot which revolves around a sadistic killer who has ties with a young opera singer named Betty is one of Argento’s best written screenplays of his career as all the events unfold like a Shakespearean tragedy.

The play with in the film Macbeth is cursed and this lends to the various mishaps that happens along the way. The music of Giuseppe Verdi along with Claudio Simonetti’s score and the heavy metal that is injected into the film during the murder sequences are integral parts to the whole film. Even though Dario Argento is known for his baroque visual tapestry his films all owe a great debt to their composers who have through the various stages of his career supplied him with music that is menacing, haunting and most importantly unforgettable.

Opera visually features some of Argento’s most stylish and daring compositions. The film which takes place mostly in two locations The Opera house and Betty’s apartment is perfectly lit. Color wise Opera is not vivid as most Argento films and its photography is most definitely a precursor to Argtento’s The Card Player. Fans of Argento’s previous films which enjoy several cliches like the excessive use of rain or the black gloved killer which are both used to great effect in the film like they had been used many times before by Argento.

The murders in Opera are the most graphic and disturbing of Argento’s career. My favorite moment also happens to be the most inventive murder ever conceived. It is when Mira, Betty’s manager is looking through peep hole and she is shot through the eye and the bullet travels down the hallway and hits Betty’s only contact with the outside world her phone. The dubbing for this release has taken on some criticism and while it is not without its setbacks it does have it charms when you get used to it. The cast all do a very good with the films weakest link being it’s lead Betty played by Cristina Marsillach. The best and most interesting performance in the film is Ian Charleson as Marco. Ultimately Opera is a flawless film in which Argento tackles everything he had learned up to that point and mixed them all together into bloodbath of sadism that goes for your jugular.

The DVD:

Arrow Video presents Opera in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors, flesh tones and black levels all fare well. The image generally looks crisp and edge enhancement in minimal. When compared to the 2001 DVD release from Anchor Bay this transfer looks very similar with any differences being minimal at best.

This release comes with three audio options, Dolby Digital 5.1 English (Re-Dubbed version), Dolby Digital Stereo English (Cannes Version), Dolby Digital Stereo Italian. Removable English subtitles have been included. All three audio mixes are in very good shape as dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and the ambient sounds also fare well throughout all the mixes. The Dolby Digital Stereo English (Cannes Version) and the Dolby Digital Stereo Italian audio mixes are the two strongest and at times the sound robust. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 English (Re-Dubbed version) audio mix sound to hallow when compared to the other two mixes.

Extras for this release include the film’s U.S. trailer (1 minute 43 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the film’s International theatrical release trailer (1 minute 44 seconds – letterboxed widescreen), a photo gallery that has music from the film playing in the background, a bio / filmography for Dario Argento, a music video for Opera’s main theme (4 minute 52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a segment titled “Top Six Gore Scenes” in which the film’s murder scenes can all be viewed separate of the main film and “The Complete Dario Argento Trailer Reel” which includes the following trailers, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Cat O’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Five Days of Milan, Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera, Two Evil Eyes, Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome, The Phantom of the Opera, Non Ho Sonno (Sleepless), The Card Player, Mother of Tears: The Third Mother and Dawn of the Dead. While most of his film’s are represented there are a few omissions Giallo and Do You Like Hitchcock?

Disc two contains the U.S. version of the film which is presented in a anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio and two audio options are available, The original Cannes Dolby Digital stereo mix and a re-dubbed Dolby Digital stereo mix. The footage cut from the U.S. version was most likely done to tighten up the pacing of the film. It appears that all of the gore is intact in this version.

Also included with this release is an eight page booklet with liner notes about the film that were written by Alan Jones, reversible cover art and a replica poster. Overall Arrow Video gives Opera a well rounded DVD release which is highlighted by the inclusion of the U.S. version of the film.

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