Music and Film Recommendation: FRANKENSTEIN (Original 1931 film, score by Michael Shapiro — LA Opera at Theatre at Ace Hotel)

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by Lamont Williams on October 26, 2022

in Film,Theater-Los Angeles


The hugely popular annual Halloween mash-up of film and opera at the Theatre at Ace Hotel is back. This time LA Opera has the Boris Karloff shocker Frankenstein on the big screen, complete with mad scientist, bumbling henchman and mob of torch-bearing villagers.

This 1931 masterpiece of horror was originally released without a musical score, which inspired composer Michael Shapiro to fill in the void by creating an original new soundtrack. As the classic film plays on the big screen, he’ll conduct a new rendition of his gorgeous and atmospheric score, performed live by the LA Opera Orchestra, making this the ultimate audience experience for a truly iconic film. A special two-day showing of Frankenstein, the 1931 classic film, will play at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 at 8pm. The audience is invited to come in costume.

This work has never before been performed in Los Angeles, where Frankenstein was originally created for Universal Pictures. The horror masterpiece was first released without a musical score, which inspired Shapiro to create an original soundtrack. Additionally, and for the first time, Shapiro adds a libretto (for singers) — members of the opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program will sing Shapiro’s brand new libretto to complement his masterpiece. Shapiro created the first of his three orchestral versions in 2002. Inspired by the opening of the film, in which a priest intones a prayer over a burial, he chose the text of the Latin Requiem Mass as the libretto for this piece. Frankenstein – The Movie Score has been performed more than 50 times worldwide, making it the most performed work of its kind.

In the course of his 40-plus-year career, award-winning classical music composer and conductor Michael Shapiro has never before had two works in performance as far apart in subject as those coming up this season. On Thursday, November 10, Shapiro’s world premiere of his latest requiem, VOICES — timed to coincide with the anniversary of Kristallnacht — will take place at New York City’s iconic Central Synagogue (652 Lexington Avenue, E. 55th Street). Paul Shaffer (best-known as David Letterman’s musical director) will introduce the event, which will also be livestreamed. The performance features Daniel Mutlu, the Senior Cantor of Central Synagogue, Ember Choral Arts and the American Modern Ensemble, conducted by Deborah Simpkin King.

Shapiro’s music has been characterized by the New York Times as “possessing a rare melodic gift.” His portfolio consists of 100 works for solo voice, piano, chamber ensembles, chorus and orchestra, as well as for opera, film and television. His works, which have been premiered and performed in concert internationally throughout the US, Canada and Europe, have aired on NPR, BBC, CBC, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and SiriusXM Symphony Hall Channel’s Living American show, to name a few.

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