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Phantom of the Opera Silent Film

April 18 @ 7:30 pm

The Phantom of the Opera comes to the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University.

We want you to experience this timeless classic in a unique performance. The story of the Phantom of the Opera, now over 100 years old, has been told in many ways since the French writer Gaston Leroux first published it in 1910. Experience it again as organist Peter Krasinski accompanies the 1925 silent film directed by Rupert Julian.


It is an honor to join you tonight to play in the magnificent McKnight Center. I feel particularly excited to be in your wonderful city to share with you the art of accompanying a silent film. When I accompany a film I first review it and think about what musical ideas would work best with the “central line”, the characters, the action, the locations, and the many other details of the film. The difference is that instead of composing the music and blending it with the film during an editing process, the music is improvised live as the movie is playing. This means that every time that I accompany a movie, a unique performance experience takes place that will never happen exactly the same way twice. 

In “The Phantom of the Opera” I will engage the full musical resources of this organ to help bring the movie to life. This film has complex themes all running at the same time. There are plots, and subplots, multiple characters that interrelate, stunningly effective locations, and, thanks to camera placement and film editing, multiple perspectives of a single event. The improvised music will highlight dramatic action and the mood in each scene as a full symphony orchestra might. This makes a musical accompaniment both challenging and exciting. The main characters in this production are not just simple examples of humanity, but very complicated, real, multi-level, and torn individuals. The young singer, Christine, is discovering the difficulty of balancing a personal relationship and a career. The Phantom has a vast musical talent that he wants to share with the world, and beneath his terrifying exterior, a loving-breaking heart. (The glorious actor Lon Chaney is able to show these complexities beautifully, even through all that makeup and after all these years.) My goal is to convey all of this musically as though I were narrating the film while at the same time becoming integrated with the presentation. The story of the Phantom, now over one hundred years old, has been told in many ways since the French writer Gaston Leroux had it published in “Le Gaulois” as a serialization in 1909-1910. This evening you will be able to experience the story yet again. The art of silent movie accompaniment on the pipe organ is a rare but much-cherished tradition in the United States and I am pleased to present it to you. 


April 18
7:30 pm
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