Il Fantasma dell'Opera

Ennio Morricone

" Il Fantasma dell'Opera' score is a classic Morricone work with an embracing love theme and outstanding broodiness and suspense. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Ennio Morricone wrote impressive, experimental scores to Dario Argento’s L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), Il Gatto a Nove Code (The Cat o' Nine Tails, and 4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet), also known as the Animal trilogy. Their collaboration ended abruptly through a curious dispute, only to be reunited for the 1996 La Sindrome Di Stendhal, a brilliant score that should have been Morricone's swan song for Italian horror, but was followed by a final work in collaboration with Argento; Il Fantasma dell'Opera (The Phantom of the Opera, 1998).

The film was a long-desired wish by Argento to make a slasher version of the famous book by Gaston Leroux, but was a rather disappointing experience. There are several great set pieces, interesting cinematography and a good performance by Asia Argento. The music includes several operatic arias and overtures neatly adapted by Morricone, an original score by the maestro, additional music by Maurizio Guarini and opera singing double Raffaella Milanesi took over from Asia Argento, who lacked talent in this particular field.

Il Fantasma dell'Opera features a wonderful love theme (Sospiri e sospiri) performed by lush strings and piano, very Italian, and incredibly movingly combining a touch of romance with tragedy. It is one of those things Morricone does best, but isn't as often reprised as you would expect, more so turning to broodiness and suspense. Circunderant Me Fluctus Mortis offers an outstanding variation for orchestra and the mesmerizing Accademia Polifonica di Roma choir.

For the broody and suspenseful material Morricone dives into familiar territory, often using small suspense motifs, augmented by menacing layers of seductive strings, poignant brass, woodwinds and percussion. In Perduto nel profondo there is a simple repetitive suspense motif for piano, counterbalanced by occasional whirling and cacophonic outburst, and more suggestive and devilish performances by the string, woodwind and brass section of the orchestra. Perhaps the most exemplary cue to discuss is the electric Una esca, which is built around an often revisited suspense motif, that is carried over to different instruments as it progresses, reminiscent of quite a selection of scores, from the experimental non-film work Contro Fase (the opening cue), to The Thing (Bestiality) and the theme of La Sindrome Di Stendhal. Morricone’s suspense and horror heritage inhabits a wealth of good material and stills manages to produce an enormously engaging ominous and eery sound that even maintained a level of freshness in the year of 1998.

A third element that is expected to make an appearance for a film like this is the organ, as heard in Suonava Solo. Now, it is very tempting to divide Morricone’s use of it into inspiring solo organ music, L´Antichristo, and emotionally flattening material, Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte, but there is so much in between. Suonava Solo starts out as insignificant suspense, but gradually becomes alive as the composer turns to his best suspense motif.

The film has a variety of scenes that are simply punitive and dragging, while Morricone’s works is consistently strong. Curiously, Argento incorporated ill-fated portions of humor and a deliberate tongue in cheek feel, which isn't reflected in the composer’s work, except for the cue Burlesca, which is entirely ineffective for the designated scene, but it also hurts the separate listening experience. Also, additional music was credited to Maurizio Guarini, a member of Goblin, but it is unknown why the director involved him in the process and what he actually contributed.

Il Fantasma dell'Opera' score is a classic Morricone work with an embracing love theme and outstanding broodiness and suspense.

1. Sospiri e sospiri (04:55)
2. Il fantasma dell' opera (02:22)
3. Circunderunt me fluctus mortis (04:09)
4. Minacciose grida (03:57)
5. Romantico inquinamento (03:20)
6. Perduto nel profondo (06:07)
7. Burlesca (01:12)
8. Sospiri e sospiri (04:57)
9. Specchio interiore (03:49)
10. Suonava, solo (02:53)
11. Nei sotteranei bui (02:55)
12. Il fantasma (02:23)
13. La cicciona (02:54)
14. Una esca (03:22)
15. Sospiri e sospiri (04:56)

Total Duration: 54:11

(written 05-07-2020)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 3 votes - average 1.83/5)

Released by

Image (regular release 1998)