Pacific Symphony, The Phantom of the Opera
With its haunting depths, eerie chords and funereal power, the $3.1-million William J. Gillespie Concert Organ provides a chilling soundtrack to the 1925 classic horror film, "The Phantom of the Opera," for the second concert this season of Pacific Symphony's Pedals and Pipes series.
Considered by many to be the foremost scholar and performer of silent film accompaniment, notable organist Dennis James recreates for the third time the live musical experience heard in movie palaces of the 1920s. (Last October, James performed the soundtrack for "Jekyll and Hyde" and, in April 2009, for "The Phantom of the Opera," accompanied by the orchestra.) His new arrangement of the original score by Gustav Hinrichs intricately conveys the fear and emotions of the actors on screen. The film stars "the man of a thousand faces," Lon Chaney, Sr., as Erik, a mysterious phantom who threatens the diva Carlotta and forces her to give up the leading role for his love, Christine Daaé.
For organ, opera and classic film fans alike, this musical event takes place one night only on Sunday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $20-44; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
Of James' silent film scoring, Dr. Ed Mullins wrote, "James' accompaniment was one of the finest backgrounds I have ever heard to a silent film. His performance was flawless. Its sensitivity to the action on the screen was an emotional experience bringing lumps to the throat and tears glistening in the eyes of an awestruck audience. It was superb."
"Silent films were never meant to be presented silently," says James. "From the beginning of the motion picture era at the turn of the 20th-century, music was an expected element of the presentation, whether supplied by pianist, organist or band... When applied appropriately to emotional development, descriptive background, comedy support or stimulating action, the music assumes a position of importance in music history equal to that of music of other periods produced for specific events or purposes."