Conductor Emil de Cou is never happier than when he is elevating the senses with a recipe of great music stirred together with a memorable film. So far this season, he has done it twice at Wolf Trap with al fresco screenings of "The Wizard of Oz" coupled with the original orchestral soundtrack, and an epic view of NASA images from space accompanied by Gustav Holtz's "The Planets." Now he caps this season's NSO@Wolf Trap series with "West Side Story" shown on giant screens backed by the National Symphony Orchestra playing the original soundtrack.
"This will be an exciting premiere of the movie at Wolf Trap," de Cou said. "It's already been shown at the Hollywood Bowl. The orchestra will play the entire sound track, including tracks that were taken off the film, so the audience can hear all the music that gets lost on the screen. The whole score has never been done live, so even if you know the Broadway musical, it will be a fresh experience.
"Many in the audience will be interested to learn that the opening sequence with the Sharks was done just before that area of New York City was torn down for urban renewal. It covers the portion of Broadway to 62nd Street and down to the water. Today that is where Lincoln Center stands," de Cou said.
The original Broadway show of 1957 starred Carol Lawrence as Maria, Larry Kert as Tony and Chita Rivera as Anita. All were established singers and did their own vocals. In the film version, however, lead voices were dubbed. Marni Nixon was the voice of Natalie Wood, who was cast as Maria. Jim Bryant was the voice of Richard Beymer as Tony, while Rita Moreno as Anita had the service of two pros, Betty Wand and Nixon. Wand sang "A Boy Like That," while Nixon provided Moreno's voice for the blockbuster "Tonight."
|The NSO does 'West Side Story'|
|Where: Wolf Trap Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna|
|When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday|
|Info: $35 to $52 in-house, $20 lawn; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org|
"Marni Nixon is the unsung heroine of Hollywood musicals," de Cou said. "She has operatic training, teaches voice and has performed with operas and symphony orchestras around the world, but she is best known in Hollywood as the singing voice of popular actresses.
"Initially, Natalie Wood was determined to sing her own songs for 'West Side Story.' She made a recording that was used on the set during filming. However, it did not meet expectations, so her voice was replaced by Marni Nixon on the entire track and that is who you hear in the film. Nixon also dubbed Wood's songs in 'Gypsy.' At 80, Marni is still going strong and in 2008 played Mrs. Higgins in the touring company of 'My Fair Lady.'"