Born in New York and musically
educated in Paris (with Nadia Boulanger), Charles Fox’s work in film and TV
has earned him two Oscar nominations and two Emmy Awards. Collaborating with
choreographer, Michael Smuin he has written music for two ballet scores: A
Song for Dead Warriors (also reviewed on this site this month) and Zorro.
This Zorro is somewhat different.
He emerges from the screen to help movie usher Emilio capture the heart of Rosa,
the beautiful theatre ticket girl, finding himself pitted against the machinations
of the lecherous theatre owner.
Fox weaves a colourful, brilliantly-orchestrated,
Latin-orientated score redolent of the excitement of the movies and the sword-fighting,
whip-lashing early Californian hero of the title. In addition to the heroics,
there is tongue-in-cheek comedy, pathos and romance woven into Fox’s imaginative
score. Diverse influences include, to my ears: Leonard Bernstein (in West
Side Story mode), Elmer Bernstein, Copland, Ravel, Bax, Prokofiev and Respighi.
Highlights include a most amusing tango for ‘Emilio and Rosa’ as prickly as
two porcupines encircling each other; the exuberant high-stepping ‘Movie Goers
Dance’; and the dreamy, haunting ‘Zorro and Rosa Pas de Deux’, amazingly reminiscent
of Bax’s Third Symphony Epilogue. ‘Don Diego’ emerges to music very like the
orchestral introduction to Act III of Puccini’s Tosca and proceeds in
a direction towards Shostakovich and Prokofiev. ‘Ballroom Scene’ continues these
latter influences; this is at first military rather than romantic music before
castanets and waltz rhythms soften the mood somewhat and then all hell is let
loose with presumably Zorro intruding and triumphing to romance Anna. ‘Emilio
and Theatre Manager – Fight Scene;’ is all comic, heroic irony and the ballet
score ends with another dreamy, romantic Pas de Deux for Emilio and Rosa.
Amusing and exciting, great fun.