Opera (1987)

Italy, 1986
87m (West Germany – video); 88m (Germany – theatrical); 90m (USA – theatrical); 91m 5s (UK – video); 95m 18s (UK – theatrical); 103m (Italy – DVD), 105m (Italy – theatrical; video); 107m (“director's cut”)
35mm film, Super 35mm (anamorphic), Technicolor, 2.35:1
Dolby Stereo

An Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento.

Plot Summary

understudy Betty gets her big break when diva Mara Czekova is injured in an accident. But she's soon being stalked by a maniac who forces her to watch as he slaughters her friends.


* = uncredited

Director: Dario Argento
ADC Films, Cecchi Gori Group, Tiger Cinematografica, RAI Radio Televisione Italiana
Executive Producer: Ferdinando Caputo
Producer: Dario Argento
Production Supervisors: Alessandro Calosci, Verena Baldeo
Unit Managers: Olivier Gerard, Fabrizio Diaz
Script: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
Story: Dario Argento
2nd Unit Director: Michele Soavi
1st Assistant Directors: Paolo Zenatello, Antonio Gabrielli
2nd Assistant Director: Alessandro Ingargiola
Script Supervisor: Cinzia Malatesta
Director of Photography: Ronnie Taylor
Camera Operator: Antonio Scaramuzza
Assistant Camera: Massimo Intoppa, Maurizio Lucchini, Ugo Menegatti
2nd Unit Directors Of Photography: Luca Robecchi, Renato Tafuri
2nd Unit Camera Operator: Enrico Maggi
Steadicam Operator: Nicola Pecorini
Clapper Loader: Roberto de Franceschi
Gaffer: Fernando Massaccesi
Key Grip: Ennio Picconi
Stills: Franco Vitale, Gianfranco Massa, Roberto Nicosia Vinci
Editor: Franco Fraticelli
Assistant Editors: Piero Bozza, Alessandro Gabriele
2nd Assistant Film Editor: Roberto Priori
Prints: Technicolor S.p.A.
Negatives: Eastmancolor Kodak
Production Sound Mixer: Giancarlo Laurenzi
Boom Operator: Stefano Rossi
Dubbing Mixer: Romano Pampaloni
Dolby Sound Consultant: Federico Savina
Sound Effects: L.M. Anzellotti
Recorded By: International Recording Srl (Rome); Gambit International (London)
ADR Director: Robert Rietty
Costume Designer: Francesca Lia Morandini
Wardrobe Assistant: Enrica Barbano
Seamstress: Francesca Grandi
Costumes: Costumi D'Arte; Sartoria Ferroni
Shoes: LCP
Jewelry: Nino Lemo
Chief Make Up: Rosario Prestopino
Make Up: Franco Casagni
Hair: Ferdinando Merolla
Wigs: Rocchetti & Carboni
Special Effects: Renato Agostini
Animatronics: Sergio Stivaletti
Assistant to Stivaletti: Barbara Morosetti
Special Effects Supplied by: Messrs. Antonio and Giovanni Corridori, German Natali
Titles and Opticals: Studio A.M. SrL
Production Designer: Davide Bassan
Art Director (Regio Theatre, Parma): Gianmaurizio Fercioni
Assistant Art Director: Antonio tarolla
Set Dresser: Valeria Paoloni
Props: Osvaldo Monaco, Maurizio Iacopelli
Props Supplied By: E. Rancati; G.R.P. Postiglione; Dedali SrL (Rome)
Furnishings: Artigiana Arredatori; E. Tappezzieri
Graphics: Modgraphic SrL di Angelo Modica
Production Secretaries: Angelo Cavallo, Egle Friggeri, Francesco Marras, Paola Rossi
Chief Accountant: Renato Rinaldo
Accountants: Carlo Du Bois, Federica Zappala
Animal Consultant: Maurizio Garrone
Camera Equipment: ECE SrL
Lighting: ARCO 2
and Animals Supplied By: Luigi Paro (Milan)
Publicists: Enrico Lucherini, Gianluca Pignatelli
Transport: Romana Trasporti Cinematografica
Insurance: Cinesicurta
Locations: Regio Theatre, Parma, Italy; Via Monserrato, Rome, Italy; Lugano, Switzerland; De Paolis IN.CI.R. Studios, Rome, Italy

Cristina Marsillach (Betty)
Ian Charleson (Marco/Mark)
Urbano Barberini (Inspector Alan Santini)
Antonella Vitale (Marion)
Daria Nicolodi (Myra)
William McNamara (Stefan Obrini)
Coralina Cataldi Tassoni (Giulia/Julia)
Barbara Cupisti (Signora Albertini)
Antonio Juorio (Baddini)
Carola Stagnaro (Alma's mother)
Francesca Cassola (Alma)
Maurizio Garrone (Maurizio)
Cristina Giachino (Maria)
Gyorivanyi Gyorgy (Miro)
Bjorn Hammer (1st cop)
Peter Pitsch (Diva's assistant)
Sebastiano Somma (2nd cop)
Michele Soavi [Inspector Daniele Soavi] *

Alternative Titles

Im Zeichen des Raben – German title
Terror at the Opera – UK/USA title
Terror in der Oper – German title

See also
4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971)
The Climax (1944)
Evil Dead II ()
Phantom of the Opera (1943)
Phenomena (1985)
Profondo rosso (1975)
Trauma (1993)


Variety 6 January 1988 p.15
Latest slasher pic from Italy's premiere blood and gore master, Dario Argento, can hardly be called one of Argento's most gripping thrillers. […] Dyed-in-the-wool Argento fans won't be surprised to find colorless ciphers in the place of characters, which does nothing to advance the careers of young thesps Marsillach and Urbano Barberini. […] Disregarding logic worked for Argento as long as he wrapped his films in a dream web of unconscious impulses, but Opera has little of that, just a feeble flashback to implicate the heroine in the bloodlust. Arneo's psychological underpinnings get thinner, the thrills get cheaper. Ditto silly camera angles, like a drain's p.o.v. or inside a pulsating brain. – from a review by Yung

Screen International no.641 (27 February 1988) p.303
In recent years […], Argento has sunk to making special effects showcases rather than real chillers. […] If Argento took himself less seriously and allowed himself the luxury of camping it up, he would probably out-class everyone else in the genre. […] But the “maestro” even gives lessons on Italian TV about how he shoots his special effects. […] Cinematographer Ronald Charles Taylor deserves credit for the lighting. But the excessive use of subjective camerawork makes it impossible for the audience to know whether they are looking through the eyes of the raven, the killer or the soprano. Perhaps this is the “mystery” Argento intended. While there may be a market for this sort of rubbish, it will not be among addicts of genuine horror classics. – from a review by John Francis Lane

City Limits no.436 (8 February 1990) pp.31-32
The usual ingredients of an Argento movie – nonsensical narrative, sadistic ultra-violence, thundering rock soundtrack, dazzling cinematography, appalling dubbing and frenetic camera movement – are here so totally overblown by the great Italian auteur that the results are unintentionally hilarious. […] The ludicrous finale – try and imagine a cross between The Sound of Music and Maniac – is a joy to behold and provide conclusive proof, if any were needed, that Dario Argento is a seriously disturbed individual. – from an illustrated review by Ian Johnston

The Hollywood Reporter vol.313 no.1 (15 June 1990) p.14
When more excessive horror films are made, Dario Argento will make them, The Italian master of the macabre is back with another bloody suspense film, full of camera movements and stylistic flourishes that are almost as over-the-top as his outlandish plot. […] The film's emotional tone is equal to the visual melodrama, with the climax finally amounting to a battle of absolute innocence vs absolute evil in an Alpine setting that seems to deliberately recall the opening scenes of The Sound of Music. You may have to see it to believe it. – from a review by Henry Sheehan



  • Cinefantastique vol.19 no.4 (May 1989) pp.52; 52-53, 61 – illustrated article (Whatever happened to opera? – a Dario Argento update by Alan Jones); review (Dario Argento at his blood-soaked apex unjustly consigned to the shelf by Orion by Daniel Schweiger)
  • City Limits no.436 (8 February 1990) pp.31-32 – illustrated review (by Ian Johnston)
  • European Trash Cinema vol.2 no.6 p.41 – review
  • Fantasynopsis no.4 p.54 – review
  • Foreign Sales, Italian Movie Trade vol.12 no.8/9 (August/September 1986) p.4 – note
  • Foreign Sales, Italian Movie Trade vol.13 no.4/5 (April/May 1987) p.50 – credits
  • Hollywood Reporter, The vol.313 no.1 (15 June 1990) p.14 – review (by Henry Sheehan)
  • Quarterly Review of Film and Video vol.22 no.1 (January-March 2005) pp.63-72 – article (The indulgence of Critique: relocating the sadistic in Dario Argento's Opera by L. Andrew Cooper)
  • Screen International no.608 (11 July 1987) p.16 – credits
  • Screen International no.641 (27 February 1988) p.303 – review (by John Francis Lane)
  • Sight & Sound vol.4 no.4 (April 1994) pp.14-16 – illustrated article (An Eye for an Eye by Linda Ruth Williams
  • Variety 6 January 1988 p.15 – review (by Yung)


  • Art of Darkness pp.209-213; 281; 198 – illustrated review (by Chris Gallant); credits; video data
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.437
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.99, 403
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.500-501
  • Horror Films of the 1980s by John Kenneth Muir pp.610-611 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Italian Horror 1979-1994 by Jim Harper pp.155-158 – illustrated credits, review
  • The Psychotronic Video Guide p.562 – review