Seduction and Despair: Hearing John Malkovich

Since it’s a premiere, we haven’t heard the music yet, but any opera directed by and starring John Malkovich has to be worth checking out. Actually, this one sounds too intriguing to pass up: Seduction and Despair is an original multimedia concert presentation about the tantalizingly bizarre life of convicted Austrian murderer Jack Unterweger, an extremely busy gentleman who was also a celebrated poet, author and journalist. After his pardon and release from prison, Unterweger, who was considered a model of reintegration, became a model of regression. Going on a killing spree, he snuffed prostitutes in Vienna, Graz, Prague and L.A. before he vanished from Vienna and fled to the U.S., where he was eventually arrested in Miami and extradited back to Austria. Unterweger ended his exciting life by committing suicide after being convicted on 11 counts of murder. With concept and musical program by Martin Haselböck, director of Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, and a libretto by Austrian writer/director Michael Sturminger, Seduction and Despair features Musica Angelica performing pieces from Gluck’s Don Juan and works by Boccherini, Vivaldi, Handel, Weber, Haydn and Mozart to accompany Malkovich’s portrayal of a notorious womanizer and his complex love-hate relationship with his victims. The star alternately reads from his new novel and “drifts into memories” as he dialogues with two sopranos — Celine Ricci and Robin Johannsen — who represent various facets of womanhood. Being John Malkovich, what could be more natural than getting way inside someone else’s head? Barnum Hall Theatre, 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., May 3, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 4, 4 p.m.; $25-$49, $25-$43 seniors 62+; $12 students. (310) 458-4504 or

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