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Abstract

The rock opera film Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) provides its audience with details regarding the film’s setting and perspectives on the morality of the film’s plot through the character Graverobber, whose sung dialogue expresses this information. Graverobber’s penchant for scene-setting and moralizing within the film classifies the character as a Greek chorus according to the parameters of the Greek chorus in antiquity and modern interpretations of the chorus in twentieth-century musical theater, but the character’s visual distinctiveness, preexisting relationship with an established character, and prominent use of solo vocal lines throughout his sung dialogue demonstrates a degree of individuation which is not present in ancient Greek choruses and modern interpretations of the Greek chorus. To prove this assertion, I first discuss the characteristics and uses of Greek choruses in ancient dramas and interpretations of the Greek chorus in contemporary musical theater, and draw comparisons between these choruses and the role of Graverobber in the film. Next, I analyze the innovative elements of Graverobber’s role in the film, showing a number of qualities which differentiate Graverobber from the remaining cast of Repo! The Genetic Opera. This differentiation contrasts with the choruses of ancient and contemporary dramas, who remain amorphous presences in their respective dramas. The comparison of Graverobber and choruses in both Greek drama and twentieth-century musical theater reveals that while the character of Graverobber incorporates several trademarks of ancient and contemporary choruses, other aspects of the role lend Graverobber a higher degree of characterization than his Greek chorus predecessors. Graverobber’s distinctiveness within the film signals a possible shift toward fully personifying the role of the Greek chorus in twenty-first century works, a phenomenon which requires further investigation in future studies.