This weekend the Santa Barbara Symphony returns to the practice of live orchestral accompaniment to a music-related film, this time the popular Mozart biopic “Amadeus.”
Santa Barbara Symphony, “Amadeus Live”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Granada Theatre, 1216 State St.
Tickets start at $29
Information: 899-2222, www.thesymphony.org
Once again, the Granada stage and screen will be alive with the sound of music and site of cinema. As part of its current campaign to expand, diversify and popularize programming,
the Santa Barbara Symphony has taken to the practice of presenting evenings of live orchestral accompaniment to feature films.
Last year’s music-related film of choice: “The Red Violin” (slated for last January but postponed to June because of the Montecito debris flow).
This year, and this weekend, the spotlight shifts to what is possibly the classical music film worthiest of the superb “blockbuster,” director Milos Forman’s infamous and entertaining Mozart biopic “Amadeus.” Tom Hulse, as the wily genius composer, and F. Murray Abrahams as the semi-villainous counterpart Salieri, will loom large on the Granada Theatre screen, reviving the theater’s former life as a movie house and then multiplex before its grand renovation into one of Santa Barbara’s grandest performance spaces.
On stage, the Santa Barbara Symphony will negotiate a live score of the musical mapping of the film, and more, led by an experienced hand at composition, film composing and the twain thereof, Belgian conductor-composer Dirk Brossé. The Symphony’s music director, Nir Kabaretti, noted that Mr. Brossé is “easily an expert of synchronizing music to film.” In terms of the live musician component, he added that, “We will have our musicians also and our chorus, because there is one movement from the ‘Requiem.’ ”
Speaking more generally about the Symphony’s recent move toward a cinematic component in its programming, Mr. Kabaretti noted that “for the last few years, we’ve done a live movie-with-orchestra event. It’s a great thing to do. It speaks to a larger audience. Also, we had an incredible screen system at the Granada Theatre — one of the best on the west coast, for sure. That allows us to do these kinds of things.
Of this “Amadeus Live” project, he says “it’s really beautiful and I think the power of live music synced with the film will be excellent. This is something we will do every year. We think this is important, and very interesting to see the film and actually hear how the orchestra is involved, live. We’re very happy to now be doing ‘Amadeus.’ ”
Melding orchestral music with dramatic material from “Amadeus” actually has a bit of local historical traction, going back to Ensemble Theater’s production of the Peter Schafer play in ETC’s 2014-15 season.
In a public introduction to the SBS’s 2018-19 season in the New Vic Theatre last September, Mr. Kabaretti pointed out that “we did Amadeus here on this stage a few years ago. After seeing that show that Ensemble Theater put together, that was beautiful, and then we had an evening with the orchestra accompanying the actors for this ‘Amadeus.’” The Symphony moved over to the New Vic for a night, performing excerpts from the play with actors, in a benefit for both ETC and the SBS.
As the maestro went on to explain, the Forman-directed film version of the play “won eight Academy Awards and people are not going to watch it for the music, which for me, is the most important part. It was only because Mozart was not qualified to be nominated for original music. I remember the ceremony back in ’85. Maurice Jarre, the great composer who was nominated for ‘Passage to India’ and Prince, up for ‘Purple Rain,’ said ‘We are so happy Mozart could not compete.’ ”