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By Angela Rocco DeCarlo
The Costa Mesa opera house audience in Orange County, California, went wild.
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ performance, October 2, featuring the Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece film,”The Godfather” with a full symphonic orchestra onstage providing the beautiful music of Nino Rota’s Academy Award winning score, conducted by UCLA alum, Justin Freer, was sensational.
The word was the symphony’s trumpet player, Robert Frear, of Long Beach State music department, was the original musician from the film. His featured solo, The Godfather Waltz, in that haunting opening scene in Don Corleone’s office, as Bonasera is asking for a favor to avenge his daughter, primes the audience for what is to come.
As an Opera Pacific docent I’ve enjoyed many operas in that theater, but I can not recall such a vocally appreciative audience. Of course, The Godfather, is, in a certain sense, an opera. It is something Puccini or Verdi might have fashioned.
It has all the elements of a great opera – love, loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Especially loyalty and revenge. And there are certainly enough deaths to satisfy that element of operatic trauma.
Poor Michael Corleone is the perfect Aristotelian tragic hero. His flaw of family love and devotion to his father causes him to lose his soul.
He abandons his planned life to avenge his father. So sad. In the later Godfather films Michael’s illness ravages his face reflecting the state of his spirit…desiccated.
In short, there is not a wrong note in the epic trilogy – excepting, of course, Godfather III.
It is seen by many as a near perfect work of art. Evocative script, brilliant casting, superb acting, with masterful set design and lighting.
Alas, as with operas, at the end of the film while the audience cheered as the various actors’ names came on the screen, the creator of the story, Mario Puzo, the author of the book, and co-author of the screenplay, was given scant attention. His face was seen briefly in a photo without his name appearing. An inexcusable omission.
It’s the same thing that unfortunately takes place with operas…all the players are feted onstage with applause and, often times, flowers.
However, the composer and librettists are sadly overlooked… none of the persons onstage would be there without them.
It is hoped the Segerstrom Center for the Arts will repeat The Godfather with the live orchestra. CineConcerts books this show all over the world. Beginning of next year it will play in Moscow.
Those who enjoyed The Godfather may welcome the opportunity to see “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” with a live onstage orchestra:
Nov. 11, 12, 13. For further information contact the theater.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA
Box office – 714-556-2787
Angela Rocco DeCarlo is a journalist who covers entertainment, culture and travel.