Opera (1987)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Cristina Marsillach
Extras: Documentary, Theatrical Trailers, Music Video, Argento Biography

Anchor Bay adds another gem to their ’Dario Argento Collection’ with the release of ’Opera’. This 1987 film is considered by many to be Argento’s last great masterwork, and Argento himself refers to it as ’the most ferocious movie that I’ve done’. (Although, I think ’Tenebre’ wins that prize.) The movie focuses on an opera company that is performing ’Macbeth’. A series of murders begin to occur, most centering on young diva Betty (Cristina Marsillach). But, in a unique twist, the killer seems more interested in having Betty observe his handiwork, than in killing her. Even as Betty tries to come to grips with being thrust into the operatic spotlight, she must also do everything that she can to stay alive.

It could easily be argued that all of Argento’s films exhibit style over substance, but ’Opera’ personifies that theory. Visually, the film is a triumph, as Argento throws some new camera moves into his repertoire, such as the ’crow cam’. ’Opera’ is littered with memorable shots, the most notable being the ’peephole’ murder in Chapter 17. Also, the set design of the opera itself is stunning. But, ’Opera’ truly lacks in the story department. It’s not until Chapter 17 that we have a true suspect, and then it’s easy to figure out who the killer is. Characters wander in and out of the film, and none of the characters are every truly studied. The ending is a true ’head-scratcher’ that even the filmmakers seem unsure of. ’Opera’ truly shows that Argento is a gifted visual director, but as a giallo, it fails.

Those problems aside, the new ’Opera’ DVD from Anchor Bay should receive a standing ovation. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing only a small amount of grain in certain scenes. The only real drawback to this transfer is that it looks a little dark at times, and some of the colors are a bit flat and muted. Otherwise, the image is excellent, showing accurate framing and no defects from the source print. The audio on ’Opera’ is even more impressive, as we are treated both a Dolby Digital EX track and a DTS ES one. Both offer excellent surround sound and the operatic music in the film sounds great. These tracks show a nice use of the subwoofer and the dialogue is always clear and audible. There is some subtle shifting in the volume of both tracks, but it’s hardly noticeable.

The ’Opera’ DVD includes a 36-minute documentary entitled ’Conducting Dario Argento’s Opera’. This features interviews with Argento, star Daria Nicolodi, cinematographer Ronnie Taylor, and others involved in the film. This excellent feature examines the making of the film, but also dishes out some ’dirt’ on the cast and crew members, who made life difficult for Argento. Argento is also very open about his feeling about the finished film. Also of note is Argento’s Fiat commercial which is included here. We are also treated to two theatrical trailers; the international trailer is letterboxed at 2.35:1, and the U.S. trailer is framed at 1.85:1. (Don’t laugh when you see the Orion logo.) Rounding out the extras are a music video by Daemonia and a bio of Argento.