“PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)” – Organist Superstar Cameron Carpenter Accompanies Silent Classic at Davies Symphony Hall, Sunday Night, October 30th

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Celebrate Halloween with the 1925 classic silent film, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, starring Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin on Friday, October 30th at 8:00 p.m. in Davies Symphony Hall. The RUFFATTI ORGAN is the largest concert hall organ in North America and celebrates its 25th anniversary this season. This amazing instrument was hand crafted in Padua, Italy and installed in Davies Symphony Hall in time for the 1983-84 season. This customized concert pipe organ boasts 8,264 pipes ranging in size from a ballpoint pen to over 32 feet tall with a façade measuring 1600 square feet. Those not visible in the façade are housed in a three-story structure built behind the auditorium wall.


Beethoven looking on. Is it judgement?
Erik, The Phantom (Lon Chaney) and Cameron Carpenter

CAMERON CARPENTER studied composition and organ performance at the North Carolina School of the Arts and at Juilliard, where he received his Master of Music in 2006. Known as a pioneer in the field of organ performance, Carpenter was the first organist ever nominated for a Grammy award for a solo record, and is a prolific writer and arranger for his instrument, including an arrangement of the complete Symphony No. 5 by Mahler. Carpenter also frequently works outside the classical genre, performing with pop singers including Vinicio Capossela and Bishi, and expanding the organ repertoire into the worlds of film and animé music. Carpenter, drawing from his varied repertoire and tailoring a program specifically to Davies Symphony Hall’s Ruffatti organ, will perform a mini-recital prior to improvising a live accompaniment to the screening of Phantom of the Opera.


MARY PHILBIN (Christine) and NORMAN KERRY (Raoul)

There are actually five versions of The Phantom of the Opera. Not one of them has exactly the same sequences, score (if any), title cards, or cast of characters. If screened side-by-side, it would appear that even the actors might be hard pressed to fully answer the question, “What’s my motivation for being in the room?” The first screening, the “preview version”, took place in one of Sid Grauman’s Los Angeles theaters on January 7th, 1925. Whatever the musical accompaniment consisted of was attributed to composer Joseph Carl Breil who had supplied D.W. Griffith with scores for Birth of A Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). Comments from the viewers shocked producer Carl Laemmle into ponying-up for re-takes and additional footage. The director, Rupert Julian – incompetent at best – was replaced by Edward Sedgwick, a veteran of the Mack Sennett Comedies Corporation. Sedgwick developed more subplots and created a climactic chase scene for Lon Chaney – as Erik, “The Phantom” – attempting to escape from the huge angry mob in a horse-drawn carriage that even sped past the Notre Dame set from Chaney’s earlier success, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Racing through extra shooting and then racing through its cut and paste job in the editing room, the finished product was then raced up to The City for one of those “only in San Francisco” events – a World Premiere – April 26th, 1925 – at none other than the Curran Theatre.


San Francisco, 26 April 1925, at the Curran Theatre

The Dramatis Personae:
Lon Chaney – Erik, “the Phantom”
Mary Philbin – Christine Daaé
Norman Kerry – Raoul de Chagny
Arthur Edmund Carewe – Ledoux
Virginia Pearson – Carlotta’s mother
Mary Fabian – Carlotta
Gibson Gowland – Simon Buquet
Bernard Siegel – Joseph Buquet
Snitz Edwards – Florine Papillon
John Sainpolis – Phillippe de Chagny
Olive Ann Alcorn – La Sorelli
Anton Vaverka – Prompter
William Tyroler – Orchestra Leader
George B. Williams – M. Richard
Bruce Covington – M. Moncharmin
Cesare Gravina – Retiring Manager
Prima Ballerina – Rebecca (Carla) Laemmle

Click here to order tickets on-line: PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

The Sentinel’s own editor Sean Martinfield is interviewed by David Perry on Comcast. Catch the Action!
KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with “The Diva” of Teatro ZinZanni
“XERXES” – At San Francisco Opera
RICHARD SERRA DRAWING – At the SF Museum of Modern Art through January 16th
CD Release: “Feels Like Home”, The Celtic Tenors ★★★★
DON GIOVANNI – It’s smart and new at San Francisco Opera
“HOUDINI: Art and Magic” – At the Contemporary Jewish Museum
LEANNE BORGHESI – SF Bay Area Star on the Rise

Comments are closed.