Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and more cross over from the screen to your speakers.
Adrian Edwards 2009
Critics are split on Nine, the new musical from Chicago director Rob Marshall. Like Chicago, it has been transported from the Broadway stage, where it was first produced in 1982; the show was also briefly in the West End, at the Donmar Warehouse.
Based on director Federico Fellini’s 8½, Nine sees Daniel Day-Lewis play an Italian film director at a romantic and creative impasse in his private and professional life. A glittering list of names – Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cottilard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench – make up the women in his world, and they all sing on screen, and here.
Maury Yeston, who provided the music and lyrics for the stage, has written several new numbers for this cinematic adaptation, although over half his original score has been reworked or jettisoned for Marshall’s vision. The producers have even inserted a hoary old chestnut, Quando Quando Quando, from the early 1960s. The best of the new songs, Guarda La Luna, goes to Loren, as the mother of Day-Lewis’s character. It’s a pretty, slow waltz, nicely sung by Loren and a sure-fire Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. It takes pride of place alongside the beautifully scored Overture, for women’s voices and orchestra; the two alone are worth the price of this CD.
Day-Lewis is presented with a trickier task, his Guido’s Song an intractable number but one that he carries off with aplomb and, as his spouse, Martine Cottilard has the one truly memorable song from the original production: My Husband Makes Movies. Elsewhere, it warms the heart to hear Dench sing again. Her way with a lyric is unique, as those who possess her recording of Sally Bowles in the London production of Cabaret will recall. Cruz vamps it up in A Call from the Vatican and Kidman has a wistful, introspective number in Unusual Way, strongly reprised by Griffith Frank. Further musical variety comes from Cotillard’s strip number, projected as heard through a transistor radio, and the derivative Be Italian, belted out by Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, who has the strongest voice on this soundtrack.
In the song stakes Nine doesn’t measure up to Chicago, but the high professional gloss from all concerned in this audio presentation makes one forget that for a while. And if the object of a soundtrack is to tempt the listener into the cinema then the invitation on offer here is irresistible.