Opera aka Terror at the Opera – Italy, 1987 – reviews


Opera aka Terror at the Opera – is a 1987 Italian giallo horror feature film written and directed by Dario Argento. The movie stars Cristina Marsillach, Urbano Barberini, and Ian Charleson.

The film’s score was composed by Brian Eno (The Lovely Bones) and Claudio Simonetti (formerly of Goblin). It was one of Argento’s most commercially successful films, attracting 1,363,912 cinemagoers in his native Italy.

terror at the opera title


After the lead in Verdi’s Macbeth is injured in a car accident, young, insecure singer Betty is reluctantly thrust into the role in the opera.

During her first performance, a murder takes place in one of the opera boxes. Mysterious killings continue as Betty is stalked and those around her meet their unfortunate end.

The killer binds and places tape under Betty’s eyelids with needles attached so she is unable to blink, and therefore forced to watch as the murders take place.

Meanwhile, Betty continues to have frightening dreams involving a masked person and her mother. During the final performance of the opera the killer is revealed, and Betty must confront her past in a terrifying climax…



“Many of Opera‘s highlights have already passed into gorehound legend, including a jaw-dropping slow motion bullet sequence that cannot be adequately described in words. As with most of Argento’s other films, Opera is also a treat to watch as his camera performs ungodly acrobatics: swirling up staircases, thumping along with the killer’s palpitating heartbeat, and swooping through the opera house itself from the point of view of a raven.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

“With Opera, Argento delivers an exquisitely crafted masterpiece, a darkly romantic fantasy. It’s a slice of sublime, sexualised grand guignol, one which makes the cloak-and-dagger antics of Macbeth and his cohorts seem hopelessly tame and anaemic in comparison.” Chris Gallant, Art of Darkness: The Cinema of Dario Argento, FAB Press, 2001

” … though the film features one of the director’s most infantile plots, it is nevertheless one of his most eye-opening, as well as eye-gouging movies. The murders are astonishing set-pieces of designer violence…” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror


“It is customary to observe of Argento’s Suspiria that it is a horror movie and an art film in nearly equal measure; not so for Opera, which is pretty much an art film through and through, though it be an art film with an unusual number of bloody deaths.” Antagony & Ecstasy


Cast and characters:

  • Cristina Marsillach … Betty
  • Ian Charleson … Marco
  • Urbano Barberini … Inspector Alan Santini
  • Daria Nicolodi … Mira
  • Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni … Giulia
  • Antonella Vitale … Marion
  • William McNamara … Stefano
  • Barbara Cupisti … Signora Albertini
  • Michele Soavi … Inspector Daniele Soavi [uncredited]

Filming locations:

The opera house featured is the Teatro Regio in Parma, Italy

Image credits: Wrong Side of the Art!



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