“How the Passion of Hannibal Lecter Inspired a New Opera About Dante”

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“When you hear the name Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a few things spring to mind—and none of them are likely to involve Italian poet Dante Alighieri or opera. Of course there’s good reason for this, with Lecter’s exotic cooking ingredients superseding his gentler affectations. But even so, when author Thomas Harris first imagined how the character might move in the wild for the novel Hannibal, it was with baroque glee he unleashed the doctor in Florence: Italy’s Renaissance city and Dante’s medieval stomping grounds.

“Director Ridley Scott similarly understood that secret recipe. His film version of Hannibal relishes every Italian colonnade Anthony Hopkins walks under, or the way the shadow of the statue of David casts darkness on its star’s face, often as he stands in the same spot where men were hanged or immolated centuries ago. In its better moments, Scott’s movie savors that this is a story about a devil who covets the divine; it delights in playing like an opera.

“Hence for the picture’s best sequence, the filmmakers commissioned a new ‘mini-opera,’ one that would for the first time put music to verses that Dante wrote more than 700 years ago. And in the decades since the movie’s release, those fleeting  minutes of music have blossomed into a real, full-fledged opera about to have its world premiere. Once again the doctor’s distinct tastes and influences appear singular within the realm of movie monsters.” [. . .]    –David Crow, Den of Geek, February 17, 2021.