BWW Review: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME at Younes And Soraya Nazarian Center For The Performing Arts (The Soraya)

BWW Review:  PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME at Younes And Soraya Nazarian Center For The Performing Arts (The Soraya)

Richard Kaufman Conducts New West Symphony featuring Dennis James on Pipe Organ and soprano Kristi Holden

Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)

Saturday, November 3 at 8:00pm


What a Holiday treat! A wonderful combination of an authentic classic silent and gripping movie, "The Phantom of the Opera," (Universal Studios, 1925) played on a jumbo screen coupled with live organ expertise and opera singing, the original score, the superb New West Symphony and the conduit that blends it all together, the Conductor, Richard Kaufman.

Dennis James, the world's foremost theater organ expert, played on the rare Allen theatre organ as CSUN alum Richard Kaufman returned to conduct. The gold, ornate pipe organ was strategically placed downstage right, where it's full volume and impact could be heard and felt.

At the helm was conductor Richard Kaufman. His direction of the deliverance of the score was the secret to such a wonderful evening. It was all bigger than life, between a wonderful score being played, live, a pipe organ accentuating every dramatic moment, which resounded throughout the theater, and the classic movie itself, with one of Lon Chaney's most famous performances. And just the sheer theatricality of the elaborate makeup, costumes, sets, acting and plot.

The score is exciting and dramatic from beginning to end. It is pompous, grand, rich in putting across the intense emotions and danger that the characters on screen are silently emoting, and filling the theatre with bombastic and stirring sounds that get right under your skin. The live organ really added an extra dimension to the sound and feel of the score. BWW Review:  PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME at Younes And Soraya Nazarian Center For The Performing Arts (The Soraya)

Also noteworthy was the operatic solo during the film that was sung live by Kristi Holden, who gave a beautiful performance, surrounded by the full, lush orchestra. Kristi played the part of Christine for five years in the Las Vegas production of Phantom, the stage musical.

Richard Kaufman has devoted most of his musical life to conducting and supervising music for film and television productions, as well as performing film and classical music in concert halls and on recordings. He is in his twenty-sixth season as Principal Pops Conductor of Orange County's Pacific Symphony. He holds the permanent title of Pops Conductor Laureate with the Dallas Symphony, and is in his eleventh season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series, CSO at the Movies, conducting classic and contemporary film music, as well as classical music used in motion pictures. Richard regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout both the United States and around the world. His credits are innumerable. Richard received the 1993 Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Performance for a recording he conducted with the Nuremberg Symphony.

Dennis James has dedicated his professional career to the theatrical traditions of organ performance and furthering public interest in the pipe organ. From the time he began performing concerts while still in his teens, James has been at the top of the organ profession. He has played virtually everywhere pipe organs are to be found, movie palaces, prestigious concert halls and theaters in Europe and the Far East. James now tours worldwide under auspices of his Silent Film Concerts Production Company presenting professional silent film programs with accompaniments ranging from solo piano or theatre organ, to chamber ensembles and full symphony orchestras. He was such an asset to this presentation. He also had a lively and interesting stage presence and was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, before and after the program.

The grand finale of the movie where we learn the Phantom's fate was culminated by the music... the organ, building and building to an insane frenzy, "pulling out all the stops," along with the entire orchestra's mad bowing, fingering and playing fiercely, put an exclamation point on the evening!!

Sponsored by Colburn Foundation, at the lovely Soroya Theatre of the Performing Arts, it was for all ages, with a huge turnout, kind of kicking off this holiday season in a grand and festive way.

Photo Courtesy of Davidson & Choy Publicity

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