Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Operatic Connections Run Deep For "The Strain" On FX Networks

More menacing than Vincent Price: Jonathan Hyde
as Stoneheart Group CEO Eldritch Palmer. But
where did this character get his name?
"The Strain is an American vampire horror–drama television series that premiered on FX on July 13, 2014. It was created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, based on their novel trilogy of the same name. Del Toro and Hogan wrote the pilot episode, 'Night Zero,' which del Toro directed. A thirteen-episode first season was ordered on November 19, 2013. The pilot episode premiered at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, in early June 2014....On August 6, 2014, FX renewed The Strain for a 13-episode second season, with production set to begin in November 2014." [Source] The only way to make a television series about vampires and the holocaust more dramatic, is to score it with hints of opera and classical music. The show has thrown brief sound clips into scenes specific to two characters: Eldritch Palmer and Thomas Eichorst.
One German-composer-loving Nazi vampire:
Richard Sammel as Thomas Eichorst
The composers approved by the Nazi regime during WWII (a theme used heavily in the show) were Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, and Anton Bruckner. So far, we've gotten some Beethoven and Viennese composer Mozart in the first nine episodes. It will come as no surprise if the other Germanic composers make an appearance later in the series. Beyond the music clips, there are many other real-life opera connections to the lead actor in the show and his character's name as well. 
Read all about the opera connections surrounding the series, and listen to music presented in the show, after the jump.  The Strain airs Sunday nights at 10:00 PM ET/PT, only on FX. Watch the full episodes of The Strain by clicking here. [Source, Source]

Opera Connection: The actor appeared as
Bartolo in a 1977 production of the
Beaumarchais play The Marriage of 
Figaro at Glasgow Citizens' Theatre.
"Jonathan Hyde stars as Eldritch Palmer - a wealthy, esteemed businessman and the owner of the Stoneheart Group. He has struggled with his poor health all his life, but Eldritch Palmer is, quite simply, not planning on dying. Hyde is an Australian-born actor who moved to Britain in 1969. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1972, and was the recipient of the Bancroft Gold Medal. Jonathan’s first love was, and is, the theatre. He has worked extensively at the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Prospect Theatre Company, Almeida, Menier Chocolate Factory and the great Citizen’s Theatre Company of Glasgow, among others. His work at Glasgow earned him an Olivier Award Nomination. Jonathan has also worked extensively in London’s West End, most recently as Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech in 2012. The 1980s saw an advance into television, culminating in his role as Sir Edward Marshall Hall in the legal series Shadow of the Noose. The 1990s were the Hollywood Years: Richie Rich, Jumanji, Anaconda, Titanic and The Mummy. Since the millennium, Jonathan has worked in all three media, including a world tour of King Lear and The Seagull for the RSC, and most recently in Travels With My Aunt in 2013 at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Jonathan is principally a character actor who has played a wide range of high-definition roles from Lady Bracknell to the Marquis de Sade, Diaghilev to Captain Hook, and Valmont to Brutus. Jonathan is also an enthusiastic swimmer, painter and traveller. He lives in Bath, England with his wife, the soprano Isobel Buchanan." [Source]

Mrs. Jonathan Hyde: The soprano wife
of the lead actor may play a part
in the use of opera sound bites.
"Isobel Buchanan (born 15 March 1954) is a Scottish operatic soprano. Isobel Buchanan was born in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1971, she received a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where in 1974, she was awarded with Student of the Year prize. She also won the Governor's Recital Prize that same year. She signed a three year contract with The Australian Opera in 1975 to pursue her career in singing and in 1976 made her professional opera debut as Pamina in the company's production of The Magic Flute. She was the youngest Principal Artist in the company's history. She made her British debut in 1978 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, again as Pamina in a new production by John Cox. (She returned to Glyndebourne in 1981 as Countess Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and reprised the role at the 1984 has grown lot Festival.) In 1978, she sang Micaela in Carmen at the Vienna State Opera, conducted by Carlos Kleiber with Plácido Domingo as Don José and Elena Obraztsova as Carmen, in a production by Franco Zeffirelli. She continued adding to her repertoire with Sophie in Massenet's Werther and a Flower Maiden in Wagner's Parsifal at the Royal Opera House in 1979. Since then, she has appeared at many other major opera houses and companies including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Scottish Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the Cologne Opera. She has collaborated with many renowned conductors, including Georg Solti, Bernard Haitink, Andrew Davis, Colin Davis, Sergiu Celibidache, John Pritchard, Neville Marriner, Carlos Kleiber and Yehudi Menuhin. The BBC made a documentary of her career in 1981. She also appeared in TV programmes such as Face the Music and Parkinson. She is married to the Australian-born English stage actor Jonathan Hyde. They have two daughters; one of them is a British actress, Georgia King. [Source]

Science Dick: Author of such hits as
The Blade Runner, admits he often wrote
under the influence of amphetamines.
"The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 dystopian novel by US science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965. The novel takes place some time in the 21st century. Under United Nations authority, humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system. Like many of Dick's novels, it utilizes an array of science fiction concepts, features several layers of reality and unreality and philosophical ideas. It is one of Dick's first works to explore religious themes. The titular 'three stigmata', incidentally, are a mechanical arm, slotted eyes and metallic teeth. According to an explanation provided by the author within the book itself these three appliances or afflictions represent alienation, blurred reality, and despair." [Source"Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher whose published work is almost entirely accepted as being in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS....VALIS (1980) is perhaps Dick's most postmodern and autobiographical novel, examining his own unexplained experiences. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover....Four of Dick's works have been adapted for the stage. One was the opera VALIS, composed and with libretto by Tod Machover, which premiered at the Pompidou Center in Paris on December 1, 1987, with a French libretto. It was subsequently revised and readapted into English, and was recorded and released on CD (Bridge Records BCD9007) in 1988." [Source]



OPERA USED IN THE STRAIN

The Strain Season 1: Episode 3 - "Gone Smooth" Thomas Eichorst is seen in the opening sequence transforming himself from the horrific mutated vampire he has become into the elegant suited gentleman he presents to the world. The music under the scene is an excerpt from Beethoven's Choral Fantasy in C Minor Op. 80. Watch a complete performance below:


The Strain Season 1: Episode 5 - "The Runaways" Eldritch Palmer is recovering from his latest surgery. As he speaks with Mr. Fitzwilliams, played by Roger R. Cross, a soprano can be heard singing barely audible in the background.

The Strain Season 1: Episode 9 - "The Disappeared" Eichorst is seen in a flashback trying to escape his leadership role at a Nazi concentration camp by finding the "Master" in a special bunker formed like an underground burial chamber. Here he becomes infected for the first time. The music is Sarastro's aria "O Isis und Osiris" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Listen to the aria below:

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