Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Listen to Some Robert Docker...

Robert Docker (1918-1992) : Legend, for piano and orchestra (1959)

If you think you hear echoes of a theme from "Citizen Kane", don't think you are wrong.

Docker took one of the best but most obscure portions of the movie's score and made the most of it in his "Legend". It is the aria written for Susan Alexander Kane to sing as she has her debut at the opera house Charles Foster Kane built to showcase her vocal talent.

There are many fascinating things about this passage of music, presented in the film as an "Aida" style opera, complete with camels, palm trees, smoking braziers, and an impossible gown and Ziegfeld-esque headdress on actress Dorothy Comingore playing the part of Susan Kane to perfection.

The masterful score for "Citizen Kane" was Bernard Hermann's first film score, if one can fathom it. It is marvelous throughout, from the bouncy electioneering song to the moody Xanadu and Rosebud themes. But the "Salammbo" opera sequence is a dramatic highlight made all the more wonderful by Hermann's imaginative aria and Comingore's tour de force acting.

Clever of Docker to take that beautiful and memorable theme and make it shine in his own composition, a fitting homage to Hermann.

Read about the composer here: Robert Docker

And please do listen to the aria as written by Bernard Hermann for the classic film, either by clicking here, a live recording, by soprano Ewa Malas-Godlewska with the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier:

Salammbo's Aria

Or here, from the fabulous Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (as for that High D at the end! Zowie!):

Salammbo's Aria

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