Philip Glass performing his score for Dracula with Kronos Quartet, conducted by Michael Riesman (Didier Dorval)
The recently renovated Spanish gothic movie palace at the Ace Hotel hosted a re-imagining of music for the 1931 Universal monster classic Dracula. The iconic film, based on Bram Stoker’s horror novel of the same name, was one of the first talkies when limited sound tech existed and no real score was ever made for it.
Commissioned by Universal in 1998 for the film’s re-release, legendary composer Philip Glass wrote a score as compelling and seductive as Dracula himself. And this Halloween weekend, the Los Angeles Opera creates an experience like no other at the Theater at Ace Hotel.
What a cathedral to screen and the advent of vampire films – the architecture upon entering made you feel as if you were entering the home of the Count. Really, at so many points you would half wonder if he might appear coming down the grand stairs in the lobby.
The black-and-white film projected on a screen where you could see Glass and Kronos Quartet down center in moments where darkness enveloped the screen. Never intrusive, the juxtaposition was gorgeous and added to the sense that this music was a character in and of itself, adding more depth to the horror classic and giving the monster more to feed off of. Every single composition was utterly captivating and gave every character’s presence a fuller meaning.
The Dracula theme, which can really be described as a series of strings that embody the ominous threat that kicks up whenever Bela Lugosi enters the room, raises the stakes. Only further enhanced by the red stage lighting that would fill up the room to put you in a sense of unease and danger. You’re cleverly given hints that this entrancing man is less man and more animal while the characters themselves begin to discover it.
There is something to be said about Lugosi’s presence, the aura that just seeps through even today. Just sitting there in the elegant gothic theater, the star’s malevolent glare only built upon Glass’ incredible score that showed you that Dracula is still the king of the monsters.
Truly a treat for film lovers and horror fiends, Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet are not to be missed in this unique experience of one of the greatest films ever made.
Dracula will be performed Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Theater at Ace Hotel (929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles). For more information, visit laopera.org/season/1516-Season-at-a-Glance/Dracula/.