Roy Budd's Phantom of the Opera

Content by Ellie Camm at Borkowski

In the summer of 1993 renowned composer and jazz pianist Roy Budd’s score for Rupert Julian’s classic 1920s silent film The Phantom of the Opera was to set be performed in London. Then he had a brain hemorrhage. Nearly a quarter of a century later his widow, Sylvia, fulfilled his dream and Budd’s masterpiece score to the 1925 Phantom of the Opera was performed at the London Coliseum on 08 October 2017, featuring the 77-piece orchestra. The performance received a resoundingly positive response from critics and audience alike.

Today the producers are delighted to announce that another one-off performance of Roy Budd’s masterpiece will be performed at the Barbican on 18 March 2019 – the very same venue it was originally meant to be screened at 25 years ago. It will once again be performed by the magnificent Docklands Sinfonia orchestra and led by Conductor Spencer Down. Since its formation, the orchestra has enjoyed incredible success with performances at Buckingham Palace for the Queen and with world-renowned classical artists such as Alison Balsom, Leonard Elschenbroich and Elin Manahan-Thomas.

The Phantom of the Opera represents the apex of the career of a man who not only bought the last surviving 35mm negative of the film he adored since the age of 11, but who made his debut at the Coliseum aged 6 and went on to compose the score of the seminal 1971 gangster movie Get Carter, starring Michael Caine. The music budget was a mere £450, but Budd, along with a bassist and a percussionist, recorded a spine-tingling harpsichord motif which is now iconic. Among more than 50 other films scored by Budd were Paper Tiger, The Sea Wolves, Who Dares Wins and the 1971 version of Kidnapped

Adapted from Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera tells the twisted tale of a mysterious recluse (Lon Chaney) who tutors a soprano at Paris’s Palais Garnier opera house while hiding a nocturnal penchant for chandelier-related slaughter. The film has been digitised and very subtle colour added throughout, with one critic noting last year that the restored film is a work of art.

As for the music, to call last year’s rendition a triumph is an understatement. Budd’s score was played with perfect timing and huge energy, intensifying the audience’s connection to a film which remains as unsettling and emotive as ever. This is a truly unique and original spectacle that is not to be missed. 

Producer Nick Hocart says; “I am excited to work with Spencer Down andDockland Sinfonia again, and to be presenting Roy’s work in the Barbican where it was due to premiere 25 years ago is history in the making.”

“Forget Lloyd Webber: Roy Budd’s original Phantom of the Opera music is finally unmasked
The Daily Telegraph

All the proceeds from the production will be going to the Rotary Club Foundation UK; specifically, the Purple for Polio initiative. Furthermore, for every pound raised, the Gates Foundation will donate a further two pounds, whilst producers Sylvia Budd and Nick Hocart are waiving production fees and donating their time for this event.

Eve Conway, Vice-Chairman of Rotary International’s End Polio Now: Countdown to History Campaign Committee, says:We are on the brink of making history by eradicating only the second human disease ever after smallpox. There have been just 27 cases of wild poliovirus worldwide this year in two countries: 19 in Afghanistan and eight in Pakistan. This compares to a thousand cases of polio a day in 125 countries when Rotary started our campaign to rid the world of polio in 1985. With our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we have reduced cases by 99.99 percent. We need to finish the job and end polio now and forever and this means continuing to raise awareness and funds for immunization campaigns in at-risk areas, as well as routine immunization. That is why the proceeds from this event are so vital to help make sure we achieve a polio-free world”.

Roy Budd’s Phantom of the Opera is sponsored by Wine Bourse, Ignition Law and Sylwia Romaniuk Couture whose support to the event will enable maximum funds to be generated for the charity.

Roy Budd's Phantom of the Opera

18 March 2019, 7.30pm Barbican Hall

Never performed during the composer’s lifetime, Roy Budd’s masterful score to the 1925 silent classic Phantom of the Opera is played live alongside the film by the 72-piece Docklands Sinfonia.

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