Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Operamania 101: Power to the Fifth

What do you get when you mix Bruce Willis in his usual malcontent hero role, Milla Jovovich as "the perfect being" and Madonna's Blond Ambition tour costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier?

You get the outrageous intergalactic action-comedy extravaganza called The Fifth Element by French director Luc Besson. And did I mention the cotton ball hair style of Chris Tucker too? This cult classic movie is definitely a guilty pleasure.

But amidst the fighting for the survival of man storyline and the 900+ out-of-this-world costumes comes one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. And it involves opera.

Diva Plavalaguna, a blue skinned alien with 2 tentacular appendages on her head, performed for the transfixed audience on the luxury space liner at Fhloston Paradise or if you've been there already, you'll recognize it to be the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

She sang Il Dolce Suono from Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, first classically then more up-tempo until she's out and out rocking the house.

Soprano Inva Mula Tchako provided the actual vocals for actress Maïwenn Le Besco.

The song is originally from Act III, Scene 1 of Lucia di Lammermoor and often referred to as "the mad scene", an enactment of going off the deep end in an opera.

A visual and aural assault on the senses, The Fifth Element is definitely a space opera. Who would've thought you'd learn opera from a sci-fi movie?

~ Ling Chan

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