×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Godfather’ With Live Orchestra Draws 5,000 to L.A.’s Nokia Theatre

Saturday night’s screening of “The Godfather” with live orchestra was an offer that 5,000 L.A. moviegoers couldn’t refuse. Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning 1972 classic unspooled with a 61-piece orchestra performing the original score by Nino Rota and Coppola’s composer father Carmine.

Justin Freer conducted the Hollywood Studio Symphony, which performed flawlessly and, impressively, without the need for a “click track” (a metronome-like device often used in film scoring to keep musicians precisely in sync).

The orchestra, dressed in “mob” black, was tastefully lit beneath the main screen at L.A. Live’s Nokia Theatre. Two other screens, flanking the stage, offered better views for audiences across the theater and in levels above.

The enthusiastic audience ranged from 20-something cinema buffs to seniors who recalled seeing the film in theaters four decades ago. They responded to the famous lines (“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” and especially “leave the gun, take the cannoli”) with knowing laughter and applause.

This was only the fourth time “The Godfather” had been done with live musical accompaniment. Earlier showings occurred at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where it premiered on Dec. 8, and two nights at San Francisco’s Davies Hall earlier this month — all sold-out performances.

Additional U.S. shows are scheduled this year with the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony and the New York Philharmonic, while a two-month European tour will commence in the fall.

Rota’s iconic themes and musical moments (the dramatic trumpet solo that opens the “Godfather Waltz,” the love theme for scenes of Michael’s exile in Sicily) were only part of the evening’s musical interest.

The wedding music (mostly written by the senior Coppola) is filled with lively, Sicilian-flavored melodies played by such traditional instruments as accordion and mandolin. A separate vocal track enabled the orchestra to accompany Al Martino live during his famous rendition of “I Have But One Heart” at Carla’s wedding.

Big-band sounds accompanied the late-1940s transitions to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. And director Coppola’s brilliant use of Bach organ preludes for the mob-hit montage during the christening of Michael’s godson was more effective than ever, given the rich sound mix at the Nokia.

Most of the crowd stayed through the end-title sequence in order to give Freer and the orchestra – an A-list band of top-notch studio players – a standing ovation.

Freer restored the score from materials he found in the Paramount music archives. “For me,” he told Variety before the show, “it was an opportunity to rebuild a very important piece of history and share that history with people in a unique way. It’s brilliant music.”

But for those who didn’t want to brave the traffic or parking nightmares that can accompany any downtown sojourn, “The Godfather Part II” was screening at exactly the same time at LACMA’s Bing Theater. Except they didn’t have a 61-piece orchestra playing live.

More Music

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Huey Lewis

    BMG Signs Huey Lewis and the News

    Huey Lewis and the News, the band that soundtracked much of the 1980s, will return with a new album in 2019. The group has signed with BMG, the company announced today (Jan. 18), setting the stage for the tenth studio album and the first time they’re releasing original music in 18 years. Formed by Lewis [...]

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • mike-posner

    Album Review: Mike Posner's 'A Real Good Kid'

    From the tone of such hits as his 2010 debut “Cooler Than Me” and 2015’s  “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” singing, songwriting pop-hop beardo Mike Posner had a seemingly breezy take on life, love and responsibility. If you could have squeezed together the two Justins — Timberlake and Bieber (Posner has written for the latter) [...]

  • neyla pekarek

    Neyla Pekarek on Leaving the Lumineers and Her 'Women-Empowering' Solo Debut

    “I feel really liberated to be releasing my own record and my own music,” says cellist and singer Neyla Pekarek, who, in October, announced her departure from folk band the Lumineers. Now signed to S-Curve Records as a solo artist, her debut album “Rattlesnake” drops Friday. “I would definitely call this record a feminist record, a [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content