WEST SIDE STORY - LEONARD BERNSTEIN - THE 50th ANNIVERSARY
I have to make a confession before we start...I had never seen the movie released in 1961, and I had never seen the musical itself before last night's performance at the Sydney Opera House...
However, I have a great recording on the latest version of the Musical played on Broadway in 2009. and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the original choreographer of the 1961 movie.
The original movie was filmed in Technicolor on 70mm film and 6 tracks audio Westrex optical technology. The orchestral original score was lost and it had to be recreated by first separating the voices and effects on one side and the music on the other side using French technology from Audionamix. Then using some documents found in various archives and many hours of work and rehearsal to get to the point where any orchestra could play it with the help on some other electronic wizardry to synchronise their performance with the action on the screen which is mostly behind them. Well, let me tell you, the SSO is not ANY orchestra! They are a wonderful crew who did get a standing ovation at the end of almost three hours of playing this complex piece of music. There was only a 20 minutes interval!
This is probably one of the top live musical experiences of my life, up there with Carmina Burana in the same venue about ten years ago, Nigel Kennedy, Anne Sophie Mutter more recently, Rod Stewart in Versailles in 1983, Eurythmics in Paris in 1989 and Sydney in 1999. Not a small feast!
About the film itself, I can say that I was very impressed by the dancers and the choreography, as most american productions are near perfect in their timing and the fluidity of the movements.
The best example could well be the Blu-Ray recording of the last and unfinished Michael Jackson's production, "This is it", that I have watched at least a dozen times and still get the same pleasure and excitement listening and watching it each time. I think it will be the same if this performance were to be recorded. I will still buy the 50th anniversary Blu-Ray and report!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.