Phantom of the Opera

Luminos Ensemble performs live score for silent film

Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin in the 1925 silent film 
The Phantom of the Opera

PEI’s professional choir Luminos Ensemble, under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. Margot Rejskind, kicks off its seventh season with a reprise of a unique film-and-music event, Phantom of The Opera.

Pairing the classic 1925 silent film with a fresh score by Toronto-based jazz bassist and composer Andrew Downing, the Ensemble’s first performance of this project in 2021 drew rave reviews from audiences and performers alike. 

Rejskind says the appeal of the project lies in both the film, and in the score they will perform with it. “Most people are used to the sounds of the big Andrew Lloyd Webber musical,” she says, “but this is a completely different feel. Other than the basic storyline, they really have nothing in common at all.”

Released by Universal Studios in 1925, The Phantom of The Opera is based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. Director Rupert Julian’s adaptation stars Lon Chaney as the hideous Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, and Mary Philbin as Christine Daaé, the object of his obsessive love. Considered one of the best silent horror films ever made, it remains famous for Chaney’s ghastly, self-created make-up, which is said to have made audience members scream and faint at the premiere.

Andrew Downing’s jazz-inspired score breathes fresh life into the story, using the words from the film itself. It will be performed live-to-film by the 16 Island singers that form Luminos Ensemble, along with a virtuoso instrumental group drawn from the newly-formed Luminos Chamber Orchestra, creating a unique experience for the audience. 

“It’s a horror film, but it also has a lot of humour and melodrama. Andrew’s music really brings all of those facets to life for the audience. When you put that together with the excitement of a live performance, the effect is electrifying,” says Rejskind.

Luminos Ensemble will perform Phantom of the Opera on October 21 at 7:30 pm at the Scott MacAuley Performing Arts Centre in Summerside; and on October 28 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm at Florence Simmons Performance Hall in Charlottetown. 

Tickets can be purchased at luminosensemble.com.