Friday, December 7, 2012

Angel of Music: Operetta Character Spotlight

It has been almost two months since I did my last character spotlight. This isn't without reason. First of all we've had a slew of new dolls hitting shelves over the past month and reviewing them has eaten up a lot of the blog posts. The other thing is that I'm going to continue doing the blog for the foreseeable future and doing too many spotlights too closely together is going to leave me with little non-review material to work with. So the spotlights are going to be more widely spaced like this from now on. With that said let's take a look at today's spotlight character.

Operetta is based on The Phantom of the Opera. The story, by French writer Gaston Leroux, was first published in serialized form in 1909 to 1910. It was eventually turned into a novel which lead to many stage and film adaptations, most notably Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash 1986 musical. The most recent film adaptation was seen in 2004, directed by Joel Schumacher.

The story revolves around Christine, a young woman who sings in the chorus of the Paris Opera House. She begins to hear beautiful singing from below the House's stage. This is Erik, the titular Phantom. Scarred and unstable, he kidnaps Christine to the cellars below. Things build from there, a love forms, and it all ends in tragedy. It's a wonderful story; I'm not a musical person but I really enjoy The Phantom of the Opera.

This being Monster High, Operetta presents us with a whimsically post-modern take on the character. Now from the deep south of the US instead of France, Operetta indeed sports the same scars as her father, but hers come in the form of stylized musical notes. Wrapped around and twisted through her scars are tattoos in black and red. Her mask comes in the shape of a heart that frames her eye. Cleverly, Operetta has been set up as a rebellious rockabilly girl -- she adores music just as much as her father but has no taste for his classical music, and he none for her rock leanings. In her diary Operetta is transferring to Monster High. Much is made of her southern roots, with several nods to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and her love and appropriation of retro music and style.

In the webseries Operetta is not a major character. Although her introduction into the series is one of the best we've seen yet, covering an arch of four webisodes and fully establishing Operetta's personality, once the show stepped away from multi-episode archs Operetta fell a bit to the wayside. When storylines involve the characters going to the catacombs Operetta usually shows up but otherwise we generally only see her in the background.

In the show Operetta speaks with a long southern drawl and spends her time in the catacombs mostly (which works as a nice analogue to her father's location at the Opera House). Initially Operetta had some of the best lines of the series - "Do I even know you?" she once responded to an outraged Cleo. She also had several subtle pop culture references in her dialogue, most notably when she referenced lyrics to Dolly Parton's "Jolene" in one episode. It has also been established in both her diary and on the show that people can't hear her live singing voice because "it does things to people". It's never made entirely clear what it does, but it's implied that it's bad. Therefore people can only hear her singing voice on recordings, made by Operetta in a makeshift studio she has set up in the catacombs.

Operetta fast became one of my favorite characters on the show thanks to her long introductory story arch and her general coolness. Unfortunately since then it's been downhill for the character, at least as far as the webseries is concerned. I really wish they'd go back to the serialized storylines in the webseries -- it gave the characters more depth and was in general simply more interesting than the one-off approach they take now.

Operetta has had five dolls released to date. There are a few mainstays of every Operetta doll: red hair with black streaks, a scar of musical notes that cascades down the left side of her face onto her neck and arm, red and black tattoos on her left arm, a mask in the shape of a heart, a color scheme of red, black, and white with the occasional purple, and a general 1950's vibe to her clothes. She has a style motif of piano keys, dice, and spiderwebs. You'll also find the occasional purse or belt buckle featuring grooves that mimic a vinyl record.

Some say her style is psychobilly but I don't see enough of the punk influence to signify that; to me she's pretty straightforward rockabilly. Whatever the case, she has a cool look and her dolls usually stand out from the others. My biggest problem with Operetta dolls is the quality of the hair. Her basic doll had an amazing set of victory rolls framing her face but the hair in the back was of very poor quality. Her next three dolls all sported ponytails, fitting of the era she's emulating, but a bit boring. And of the those three only the Kohl's doll had good quality hair. Her newest doll, from the Dance Class line, doesn't have a ponytail and the hair quality is improved but still not perfect. Rumors abound that a Picture Day Operetta doll is on the way -- hopefully she'll live up to the potential that this unique, fun character has.


  1. The 2004 adaptation gets a lot of hate. :(
    Me? I love it.
    The costumes. The set design. The cinematography.
    Absolutely gorgeous.
    And then there's Gerard Butler. *swoon*

    Anyways, getting back on topic, while I don't really like Operetta's character, I do love her theming & style.
    I wonder what her dynamic will be with Wydowna when she gets introduced?
    They have a similar colour palette, and Oppy's pet is a spider. Who knows?

    Are you going to do another character spotlight soon? It's been 6 months since you posted this.

    1. A lot of that hate stems from the fact that Joel Schumacher directed it. He did Batman & Robin, a notoriously awful movie, and people have held it against him ever since. How quickly they forget he's done amazing stuff like The Lost Boys (one of my absolute favorite 80s movies), and Phonebooth. Agreed on Gerard Butler -- yowzers! Mm-hmm!

      I hadn't thought about that, but they are a tad similar. I guess we'll see. I'm wondering what Wydowna's actually personality will be like. She might be completely different from Oppy in that regard.

      I know who I want to do for the next character spotlight, I just haven't been especially inspired to do it, to be honest. And I don't want to write it until I'm completely into it. When I write blogs because I feel I "have to", I think it comes through and makes for a so-so entry.

    2. That's okay. I know what you mean about not being totally into it.

      I thought it was the singing that people disliked about the film? It's still a pretty silly reason to dislke it, IMO. Because it is first & foremost a film which requires acting skills just as much & moreso than singing abilities. I think ALW said himself that he wanted the Phantom to have a rockstar quality to him. Sure, the cast is not as good as the on-stage actors, but they do pretty darn good, IMO.
      (save for Minnie Driver/Carlotta, who didn't sing her part, but did sing the main credits song.)

    3. I know people complained about Gerard, and though I know he put a lot of work in on the singing, I generally would have to agree with the majority. He's not a natural, I guess. I thought Emmy Rossum was great, but I guess others didn't? I just know ever since B&R, Schumacher has gotten crap to one degree or another for every one of his movies.