"In a movie, the music usually drives the drama, but in 'Amadeus,' it’s the other way around, as the music is in the forefront.” Andrea Warren, vice president of marketing and project development for Attila Glatz Concert Productions, producers of "Amadeus Live," explains further.
"Amadeus Live" makes two South Florida stops this week. The 1984 Academy Award-winning film, will be presented in high definition and in sync with a full symphony and choir, on Wednesday at the Kravis Center West Palm Beach, followed on Thursday at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center.
At the time of its release, Roger Ebert hailed “Amadeus” as “one of the riskiest gambles” in film. “This movie is nothing like the dreary educational portraits we're used to seeing about the Great Composers…this is Mozart as an eighteenth-century Bruce Springsteen and yet (here is the genius of the movie) there is nothing cheap or unworthy about the approach,” the critic wrote.
The movie is also notable for its lush soundtrack, which, when it was released, became the first classical album to make the pop charts in six countries. The score features some of Mozart’s greatest works, including excerpts from Symphony No. 25 in G minor, “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” and “Marriage of Figaro,” as well the composer’s hauntingly dramatic “Requiem.”
The concert production company, based in Canada, has done several film-and-concert productions, but “Amadeus Live,” is the first one they are presenting in South Florida. The production was previously seen in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. “We got wild applause – everyone just loved it,” says Warren.
The pairing of big-name classic movies with symphony orchestra has picked up steam in recent years, and have included “Star Wars,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and even “Psycho,” booking such productions into venues ranging from Prince Albert Hall in London to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
“What makes us choose one film over the other is absolutely the score. We bring really, really great films with scores that demand to be heard and would be worth hearing in a concert even if there was no film,” she adds.
According to an article in Variety, such programs have become a source of revenue for orchestras, as well as a way to introduce a younger generation to classical music. But although the trend seems modern, it actually began in 1987 when the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed Prokofiev’s legendary score to “Alexander Nevsky” live to the film, according to the industry magazines.
The advent of technology is spurring the growth of this type of program, says Warren, noting that how it all comes together, which will be out of the audience’s view, is quite fascinating.
The orchestra will be comprised of local musicians, but conductor, Jeremy Schindler, who has conducted the scores for several Academy Award-winning movies, will arrive in South Florida from Los Angeles, because he has the most demanding job on stage, says Warren.
“He will have the full score, of course, but he also has access to a TV monitor that is set up between him and the orchestra. So as he is watching the orchestra, and he can see the movie on the monitor, but there are also lines that will be scrolling by on the TV monitor. This will help him keep time, so the music stays completely in sync with the film,” she explains.
In addition to the musicians, the production will feature a choir comprised of the FAU Chamber Singers and the Delray Beach Chorale.
The Chorale got wind of the project late last summer, and, for the past few months, they’ve been busy rehearsing the score, says Jeremiah Cummings, president of the Delray Beach Chorale.
But performing in this kind of production is much different than the chorale’s usual practice, he notes.
“When you’re preparing for a concert, you sing the entire work, of course. But for this, we’ll only be singing one or two entire pieces, and then the rest of the music is in smaller snippets,” he says.
Cummings is also betting on productions like “Amadeus Live,” to entice younger audiences, and help keep classical music alive.
“Programs like these are a way of showing what can be for a generation that doesn’t always like to sit down and listen to music. But to have that component of watching the movie while you listen to the music infuses it with a newfound energy,” he says.
“Amadeus,” will be performed Wednesday, March 14 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, (561) 832-7459 or www.kravis.org, and Thursday, March 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, (305) 949-6722, www.arshtcenter.org. Both performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$99 at the Kravis Center and $45-$120 at the Arsht Center.