The Princess Bride in Concert

“Cough, cough.”

Never a sound you want to hear in an orchestral performance. And this bout is loud! Is someone near the microphone?

Oh, wait…

This is true love. Do you think this happens every day?

An eighties synth score performed by a symphony orchestra?


Yet here I was at the Sydney Opera House listening to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the incomparable Nicholas Buc, performing The Princess Bride live to the film.

Hear this now: I will always come for you.

It is happening rather a lot this year, but I stand ready to support live performances of film music. The rest of the family don’t agree with me, but The Princess Bride is a simple, charming film full of some of the best quotes around.

The original score was composed by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and performed by himself on the guitar and his bandmate Guy Fletcher on keyboard. I won’t claim that it’s a great score, but it’s tender moments with Knopfler’s guitar are quite lovely and the cheerful synth work is not out of place with all the films many delightful anachronisms.

Mark Graham’s orchestrations lift The Princess Bride to a new level, adding a textural richness that only an orchestra can provide. It is surprisingly faithful to the original synth sound however and Graham did not add significant complexity to the score.

Jeffrey Cheah provided the solo accoustic guitar accompaniment, always a wonderful instrument to feature in any score, especially those devoted to romance.

Conductor Nicholas Buc is an expert at performing to film and always provides a fun introduction. More than that, his conducting style reflects the emotion of the score, never failing to get the best out of the musicians.

If there’s one criticism of the audience, it was a lack of mask wearing. You mean, I’m still banging on about COVID and face masks in public places? Umm… I wasn’t talking about over the mouth…

Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?

Oh no, it’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

Westley with a black mask with his arms wide. From The Princess Bride
From 20th Century Fox

Okay, I wasn’t in costume either.

As you wish!

Actually the audience was the best thing about The Princess Bride in Concert. When I first watched the movie it was on video, alone in my share house, pining with unrequited love. At an almost full Opera House it was with hundreds of others who similarly loved the movie and the house was filled with shared laughter and applause. Deserved applause, for it was another wonderful performance, a musical escape into a fairytale world and one that we all needed.

Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them.

Trust me! It was great!

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