Carl Davis’ latest ballet score Le Fantôme et Christine premieres on 11 May at Shanghai International Dance Centre. The two-act 140-minute work after Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel is choreographed by Derek Deane with designs by Lez Brotherston and produced by Shanghai Ballet; the six performances will be conducted by Michael England. See images from rehearsals here.

A Shanghai Ballet commission, Davis’ score for large orchestra sets the scene by drawing on the various musical styles of the Belle Époque in which Leroux’s novel is set, including French revolutionary songs, folk dances (the Farandole) and a riotous Can-Can. The music of the Phantom, depicting his delusions and fixations, develops themes from Davis’ 1996 score for the Lon Chaney/Rupert Julian silent movie version of the story. Davis writes,

…the tonal range could be stretched and distorted – the man is a murderer and yet still a man. He has known nothing but pain and rejection from birth. He yearns for love but can only see violence as his means of attainment. Dissidence is his norm. Nothing must stand in his way.

In Derek Deane’s new realisation of the tale, the operatic elements at the centre of the original story are jettisoned. Christine is transformed into a budding ballerina, the protegee of the mysterious Phantom, and a balletic showpiece – the finale of a ballet based on a mythological subject - rather than opera gala opens the piece.

Deane’s first collaboration with Davis was Alice in Wonderland in 2006 for English National Ballet, which toured the UK and subsequently transferred to Pittsburgh Ballet theatre. In 2008 it was followed by the world premiere production of The Lady of the Camelias in Croatia in 2008, which was revived for the Shanghai Ballet in 2019 in a revised version and toured China in 2020.

Davis’ ballet scores continue to receive widespread international performances and acclaim. In June this year the National Ballet of Japan present David Bintley’s production of Aladdin in Tokyo; his 2-Act version of A Christmas Carol has been staged every year at Christmas since 2019 in The Hague by De Dutch Don’t Dance Division, choreographed by Rinus Sprong and Thom Stuart (except for December 2020 at the height of the pandemic). Davis’ original score for The Great Gatsby (2019), choreographed by Jorden Morris and premiered by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, was released in 2021 on disc, and staged by the Orlando Ballet in April 2022.

Davis’ acclaimed score for Rupert Julian’s 1925 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera premiered at the 1996 Edinburgh Film Festival. It has since been performed over fifty times, including by the Hallé, Philharmonia Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, with Davis frequently conducting. In March 2024 Frank Strobel conducts Davis’ score for Phantom with the Belgian National Orchestra at BOZAR.