Thanks to all who came out to the wonderfully cozy Inwood Theater Living Room this evening for the screening of the classic horror film Dracula – and I do mean all – the comfy couches, chairs, and bean bags were full. You guys are awesome! This was the second film in our free Inwood Living Room Series – just one of several events going on this week focusing on our second opera of the season – Die Fledermaus.
Universal Pictures 1931 release of Dracula was based on Bram Stoker’s famous novel from 1897. Stoker didn’t invent vampires, but his novel certainly did much to popularize them. (Much the same way that Johann Strauss Jr. popularized the waltz and elevated it from a simple country dance to entertainment fit for the royal court.) What was new in Stoker’s novel though, was the convention that vampires can shape-shift into wolves, mist, and of course, bats. This little bat bit is but one of the many, many similarities between Dracula and Die Fledermaus.
What are the other similarities you ask?
Well – first of all, Dracula begins in Transylvania – and of course Die Fledermaus is set in Transyl…Vienna. Hmm? OK – well – someone always dies in opera – right? Well there is plenty of death and destruction in Dracula. And as we all know, everyone dies in Act III of Die Fleder…wait – it’s a comedy – nobody dies and they all live happily ever after……….OH!!! Rosalinda disguises herself as a Hungarian Countess in Act II. Surely Count Dracula has snacked on a Hungarian Countess or two…(just not in this film). All right then, if nothing else, Bela Lugosi was Hungarian. You have to give me that one.
So I guess it really is just the bat bit…
The added treat this evening was seeing the film with a new soundtrack by Philip Glass. Recording technology in 1931 was still in its infancy, (remember it was only in 1927 that they were able to include recorded speech) so in 1998, Glass was commissioned to compose a soundtrack for the film. I think it is a wonderful and evocative addition. I am also quite glad that recording technology – and acting techniques – have progressed far beyond 1931 standards.
For those wanting a little more “old school music” – did you catch the little bit of Wagner playing when Dracula went to the theater? See you soon and take care.