Casino Royale in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Live Review

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra returns with the next instalment in their incredible Concert Series. Conducted by Buc, Nicholas Buc, the MSO presents Casino Royale Live in Concert.

In what some would call a reboot of the James Bond franchise, Daniel Craig debuts in the role as 007. Accompanied by David Arnold’s incredible musical score, Casino Royale is arguably one of the best Bond films of all time. Directed by Martin Campbell, Casino Royale would have to be my favourite Bond film and to have the opportunity to experience it with a live symphony orchestra is something truly special.

Casino Royale isn’t your typical James Bond film, it is actually an origin story of how Bond achieved his ‘00 status’ becoming MI6’s mort formidable agent as 007. Centred on the story of Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker notorious for aiding terrorist groups. After receiving millions of dollars from an African Warlord to invest safely, Le Chiffre instead buys options in an aerospace manufacturer, Skyfleet.

The chase scene at the beginning of the film, where James is chasing Mollaka in Madagascar, through the construction site to the embassy, is by far one of my favourite chase scenes from any film. To have it backed up by the intensity of the live orchestra had my heart racing and it quickly reminded me of how incredible this score is.

After causing an international incident at the African Embassy in Madagascar and defying direct orders, MI6 Director M (Judi Dench) threatens to throw him to the wolves. However realising Bond was onto something, requests he stays dispassionate and not let his ego get the better of him. Following clues left by Mollaka, Bond finds himself chasing down a known criminal in Alex Dimitros in the Bahamas. Linking Dimitros to Le Chiffre, Bond chases him to Miami where he uncovers a plot to destroy Skyfleet’s new prototype. Thwarting the pending terrorist plot, Le Chiffre loses over $100 million dollars.

In an effort to recover the money, Le Chiffre joins a high-stakes poker tournament at Montenegro’s Casino Royale. MI6 stakes Bond in the tournament, betting millions on Bond’s ability to play the game. If Bond wins, Le Chiffre will have no choice but to seek asylum, if he loses they will be directly funding terrorism with $115 million dollars.

Daniel Craig’s piercing blue eyes, witty, subtle sense of humour and strong resolve makes him the perfect choice as James Bond. He slots into the role perfectly and definitely makes it his own, setting it apart from any other Bond film to date. Mads Mikkelsen as the villain was perfect and brilliantly captured the essence of someone that is about to lose everything and will do anything to prevent it from happening. And of course, Judi Dench reprising her role as M and plays the character perfectly.

I constantly found my gaze locked onto the orchestra and conductor Nicholas Buc as the action sequences were taking place. The ferocity of these sequences is something that is truly magical to witness. I honestly don’t know how these talented musicians have the stamina to play like this for a full film. If my heart was racing just watching it, I can only imagine what it would be like to actually play it. Additionally, the full orchestra perform the opening Bond Title, You Know My Name by the late Chris Cornell. This song is used as a continuing theme throughout the film. Traditionally this would be the classic Bond Theme, however as an origin story it is clever to use Cornell’s song instead with Bond only earning the traditional theme at the conclusion of the film.

If you can get there early, there is also a pre-show talk featuring conductor Nicholas Buc, film expert Dr Dan Golding and MSO Senior Manager Andrew Pogson, each of which are from a podcast called The Art of the Score. They discuss and breakdown David Arnold’s score and how it fits within the film. The pre-show talk begins at 6:15pm and can be accessed from the lower level through the stalls.

There is also a photo booth set up on the lower level where you can put on your best Bond pose or recreate the opening sequence with an animated gif.

Casino Royale in Concert is definitely one that should not be missed. And with the final performance this evening at 7:30pm, I would highly recommend you cancel any plans you may have and get yourself a ticket.

Tickets are available from the MSO website here

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