LA Opera’s Hitchcock Halloween with “Psycho” & Live Orchestra

LA Opera Off Grand's 2019 screening of "Psycho" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)
Inside The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Inside The Theatre at Ace Hotel

The notorious shower scene—a pivotal moment in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” where Marion Crane is stabbed to death by a shadowed figure. The only thing more terrifying than the blood-splattered bathtub and close-up of the victim’s lifeless stare is the screeching of the strings as the knife repeatedly pierces her flesh. It’s “The Murder” by composer Bernard Herrmann and one of the most unforgettable instrumental scores to grace a horror film.

For 2019, as part of its annual Halloween tradition, LA Opera’s Off Grand presents “Psycho” at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. Off Grand is an extension of the opera company that showcases more experimental performances across the city. Making this event extra special is the live orchestra, conducted by Louis Lohraseb, that provides the soundtrack as the film plays on the silver screen.

Louis Lohraseb leading the LA Opera Orchestra ensemble (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)
Louis Lohraseb leading the LA Opera Orchestra ensemble (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

The music of Hitchcock’s psychological thriller has a distinct sound, filled with the haunting melodies of violins, cellos and bass. The accompaniment of the LA Opera Orchestra seamlessly blends with the film and augments the eerie atmosphere within the theatre. It’s fantastic!

Situated center stage, beneath the screen, the ensemble is within clear sight of the audience. This lends to the immersive element of the show. As the plot intensifies and climaxes, viewers witness the rapid movements of the players and can feel the energy building behind the music, increasing the tension.

LA Opera Off Grand's 2019 screening of "Psycho" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)
LA Opera Off Grand’s 2019 screening of “Psycho” at The Theatre at Ace Hotel (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

The venue is also an ideal place to see a horror picture. The Theatre at Ace Hotel dates back to the 1920s and evokes Gothic architecture. Inside, there’s a three-story lobby, and a theatre outfitted with lavish décor reminiscent of a royal fortress. As with many historic structures, it could quite possibly be haunted.

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Attendees of Saturday’s showing, ages 21 and over, were treated to a Halloween soiree immediately following the film. Festivities ensued in the charming and spacious lobby, which was decked out in macabre décor, from gossamer cobwebs to hanging ghosts and bone-chilling skeletons. A DJ perched on the second-level balcony spun a variety of dance-worthy tunes and the space was bathed in glistening disco lights. A colorful array of costumes could be spotted in the crowd, from devils to iconic movie characters.

So, how did this All Hallows’ Eve custom come into being? To find out, LA Opera was kind enough to answer a few questions to give you a peek behind the curtain!


LA Opera's 2019 screening of "Psycho" at the Theatre at Ace Hotel (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)
LA Opera’s 2019 screening of “Psycho” at the Theatre at Ace Hotel (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

Q: When did LA Opera Off Grand debut its annual Halloween horror movie series and what was the first film it showed?

A: It began in 2015 as part of a five-project cycle the company undertook with Philip Glass. His DRACULA provided connective programmatic tissue between EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH and AKHNATEN on our mainstage. It was such a big success with audiences, a new tradition for the company was born. The Philip Glass score was played by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet.

Q: The live orchestra accompaniment is an amazing feature of the event. How did the decision come about to include this element as part of the show?

A: As an opera company, we believe deeply in the power of live performance, and it’s a wonderful way to introduce audiences to the incredible gifts of our orchestra.

Q: How does the company decide on which horror film classic it wants to feature each year?

A: Part of the tradition is that every other year, we commission a new score for a scary classic; we work together with the composers to find a film that most inspires them. With PSYCHO, we sought to feature one of the most acclaimed film composers, and an unadulterated classic.

Q: The Theatre at Ace Hotel is grandiose and beautiful. Is there a particular reason this became the venue of choice to host the event?

A: The venue is spectacular, and the (fairly) recent restoration brought this beloved cinematic treasure back to life; a gorgeous “movie palace” is simply the perfect setting for these events.

Q: What can we expect from Off Grand’s future Halloween horror film events?

A: All I can say, is that you’re in for some surprises! (From our CEO, Christopher Koelsch)


LA Opera Off Grand’s presentation of “Psycho” was well executed and the Halloween celebration after was delightfully entertaining. It’s a novel experience that offers a unique way to commemorate the spooky season.

Two showings remain for this month: Wednesday, October 30th and Thursday, October 31st at 8p.m. Admission prices start at $25. Those attending on Halloween can join the afterparty for free. There are no age restrictions and there will be a costume contest, so dress to impress. Although you can opt to buy tickets for just the All Hallows’ Eve bash, why would you want to miss a rare opportunity to see a Hitchcock classic with live music? You can purchase tickets here.

The affair happens annually showcasing a different horror movie each time, so if you can’t make this October’s screenings, make sure to mark your calendar for next year.

To learn more about LA Opera and future performances, visit the official website.

Visit The Theatre at Ace Hotel official website for news on upcoming events.

7 thoughts on “LA Opera’s Hitchcock Halloween with “Psycho” & Live Orchestra

  1. Absolutely, Jenn! The orchestra amplifies not just the music, but the atmospherics. Particularly the atmospherics.

    Not exactly like your experience, but the last time I was in Atlanta, I caught their orchestra accompanying “Gone with the Wind.” Memorable.

    I began to worry you’d let Halloween pass without a special post. Nope. You definitely delivered. Oh boy, did you!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed the post! Of course I couldn’t let Halloween slip by without doing something special.
      Wow, I would love to see Gone with the Wind accompanied by live orchestra! I’ve adored that film since I was a child.

      1. You might want to consider booking a flight to Atlanta, then, Jennifer. As far as a I know, ASO still offers the experience.

        In fact, the next time I transfer through Hartsfield, I’ll consider scheduling a six-hour layover, just to experience this a second time. Is this possible? It just might be.

        Wait! Did I just give you a cultural lead? Impossible! “The World Turned Upside-Down.”

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