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Blood Spurting on Stage or on Screen, Opera Singer Elise Quagliata Loves Horror

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David Cronenberg’s The Fly is metamorphosing into an opera this fall, a decision that opera singer Elise Quagliata finds “wicked.” 

A mezzo-soprano who loves horror films, Quagliata thinks the experiment might help shake the notion that opera is sterile and elitist. Furthermore, it might not be as outside of the box as one might think. “In the piece I’m doing now, The Tragedy of Carmen, we have four murders and three love scenes,” she says. “At the end, he slashes my throat with a knife and I carve a cross on the forehead of one of the characters — and there’s blood spurting everywhere.”

So as not to upset her parents, Quagliata won’t reveal how young she
actually was when she started watching horror films, but her
babysitter didn’t speak English, and the family had cable. Between
the ages of six and 10, she watched anything she could get her hands
on, despite the objections of her frightened brother who would protest,
“Oh Elise, I just want to sleep.” 

What does Quagliata want
from a horror movie? “To have that back-brain reaction of ‘Oh god, I
gotta get out of this chair!'” she says.

These are the movies she thinks are so scary, they’ll lift you out of
your seats:

10. Espinazo del diablo (The Devil’s Backbone)
7. Alien
6. Rosemary’s Baby
5. Dawn of the Dead (’78 and
4. Ringu
3. The Shining
2. Psycho
1. The Exorcist

The Exorcist
is the first horror movie I ever saw. I would tell friends who didn’t
get to see it yet, ‘Oh my god, I saw this crazy movie with
this girl and her eyes rolled back.’ I read the book by Blatty and I
just loved it. To see it again when it was re-released with
additional scenes — I am equally affected as an adult as I was as a

(Elise Quagliata photo credit: Ron Besser)

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