Ennio Morricone takes a final bow at the O2 Arena
At the tender age of 90, Ennio Morricone is still touring internationally, celebrating the 60th anniversary of his career on the road. Tonight, the revered Italian composer returns to the O2 – his third show at the venue in three years – for his very last UK performance.
The concert opens with a bang: The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean from Tornatore’s 1998 picture The Legend of 1900. In typical Morricone fashion, the piece starts with a mellow – almost reassuring – tone and ends up exploding in a triumph of brass and strings, concluding with some jazz touches (a reference to the film’s theme).
The programme continues with Chi Mai (Maddalena, The Professional) and H2S; then the maestro, who is directing the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, showcases an absolute masterpiece – Deborah’s Theme from Once Upon a Time in America – winning the first standing ovation of the night. Before moving to the rest of the Leone movies, the music from Baarìa, Allonsanfàn (and Inglourious Basterds) and Nostromo serve as a further warm-up.
When the Man With a Harmonica begins, the audience can’t hold in their applause and excitement. It’s still not clear how Morricone envisioned, composed and arranged with cutting-edge sounds his Italian Western scores; these are still some of the most iconic and influential musical works of the 20th century. The Crouch End Festival Chorus steps in for The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, delivering the piece’s epic atmosphere. The Leone segment ends with the quintessential Ecstasy of Gold, performed with soprano Susanna Rigacci and the choir.
The second half of the concert features more – although shorter – compositions. From The Hateful Eight‘s The Last Stage to Red Rock to The Battle of Algiers, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion to Queimada‘s Abolição, Morricone shows the impressive breadth of his artistry. Then the wonder. In 1986 the maestro would release his most important, almost spiritual work: The Mission. First Gabriel’s Oboe, then Falls and finally On Earth as It Is in Heaven, the progression is breathtaking and nothing short of a miracle.
Before the final encore – an extra performance of Ecstasy of Gold and Aboliçāo – the composer closes the programme with the wonderful Cinema Paradiso. It’s sad to think there won’t be another of these concerts in London, and it’s also a little sad that on the day of the death of Bertolucci there was no reference to him (they worked together on several films including 1900); it is, however, a very special moment. The British capital gives Morricone a final standing ovation as he takes his final bow at the O2.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Ennio Morricone’s 60 Years of Music Tour ends on 15th February 2019 in Dublin, for further information visit the artist’s website here.
Listen to Ecstasy of Gold here: