We saw how "Great Caesar's Ghost" was a sort of visual pun, a cliché brought to life (or to death, I guess we should say). There are others, like the opera couple in the graveyard. They are commonly called "phantoms of the opera." It's a pun made possible by the fact that the title "Phantom of the Opera" standing alone is actually better known than the literary (and cinematic, and musical) work by that name. That's not unusual. How many of you have read War and Peace? Oh dear. That's pretty pathetic. Well, how many of you would recognize a pun on "War and Peace" if you saw it? You know, let's say someone decides to do an article on fast-food franchises serving military bases and entitles the article, "War and Pizza." You'd have no problem getting the joke. (Actually laughing at it might be a tougher assignment.)
One thing that the pair does not represent is, "It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings." Someone might think that this is the cliché represented here as a visual pun—with "over" understood in a particularly macabre sense—because the operatic duo really are near the end of the ride, but the "fat lady" phrase appears to be a recent coinage, not firmly attested earlier than the mid-1970's.
The phantoms of the opera went from Marc Davis's original sketch to maquettes to finished figures with less alteration than practically any other characters in the HM. Marc just flat-out nailed it, and no one could improve on it. It almost makes these characters boring to blog about. They sure are fun to look at, though.
(see below *)
Note the caption on this 1969 postcard:
If they're fun to look at, they're even more fun to listen to. For some unfathomable reason, the WDW Mansion has replaced the original with a new recording, but thankfully, Disneyland still has the original, recorded Feb 13, 1969. The singers were Bill Reeve and Loulie Jean Norman Price. The music director, Buddy Baker, knew that these two were seasoned professionals and that they had the basic "Grim Grinning Ghosts" tune down pat, but he told them they were supposed to be some kind of nut cases and that they should improvise freely. Go on kids. Get crazy. He needn't have worried. They weren't shy. Or maybe they were drunk? Whatever it was, they gleefully jumped in and delivered a performance right out of the locked ward. Both singers are great, but I think the female half steals the show. Shhhhh...listen!
You've heard the warbling soprano of Loulie Jean Norman Price before. You know the warbling soprano in the background of the Tokens' famous hit, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"? Yeah, that's her. The warbling soprano you hear in the Star Trek theme? That's our Loulie. Around Hollywood, it seems she was the go-to girl for warb. sop., especially if you wanted a faintly spooky edge. All kidding aside, the lady had a great set of pipes. She had a long professional career, at Disney and elsewhere. There is a rather charming memorial site for LJNP, who died in 2005.
*I can't find the attribution for this photo. If it's yours, contact me, and I'll give you full credit or take it down at your option.
Very good post and great images! These figures do tend to be "overlooked", I think, in the larger scheme of the attraction by certainly the general Joe Q. Disneylandguest. But then, there is a lot going on in the graveyard.ReplyDelete
And a shame about the WDW singing track replacement...kind of baffling, really.
In addition, upon listening to the audio track, they do both sound rather unhinged indeed. My favorite is the insane cackling at the end...excellent stuff.ReplyDelete
This is GREAT! That sounds just like my singing, only in tune and with wider range and with more resonance and better overall.ReplyDelete
TECHNICAL QUESTION: How did you embed the music player?
Brunhilde's seams are showing.
Being a techie NOT, I had a miserable time trying to embed a player. I tried storing the opera sound file at three different hosting sites and tried to link from them to my blog. Followed instructions to a T, with no success. Finally I read one comment in one of the Blogger discussions that said the easiest way of all is to open an account at archive.org and treat your file like some random thing you want to save there for posterity. When you play it at archives.org, the URL or HTML code appear. Just copy that and paste it into your own blog. First write your post, then hit "Edit HTML." Find the spot where you want your audio file to be, and that's where you copy and paste in the code that appeared when you played it at archives.org.ReplyDelete
I'd say that clip is worth saving for all posterity — or as long as Archives.org exists.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the tip. That's about where I'm at with embedded objects, unless I'm talking splinters.
Bill Reeve was a very dear friend of my parents. Bill sang for years with the Johnny Mann singers, and sang solos and chorus in many musicals. My favorite solo line of his was in the movie version of South Pacific, in the song "There is Nothing Like a Dame" his solo line is "has a soft and wavy frame like the silhouette of a dame". What a voice!ReplyDelete
I will be honest, I don't see the pun. Aside from the obvious 'opera' portion of it, I fail to see where the phantom comes in. I mean yes I get it they are phantoms but I feel like it definitely could have been done way differently. Then again i'm just one person. Love the blog though! I'm a new reader so I'm starting from the beginnning.ReplyDelete
Well, they are quite literally phantoms of the opera, and the point is even made explicit by the caption on the postcard above, so it doesn't seem too mysterious to me. I suppose it depends in part on whether you agree that the title "Phantom(s) of the Opera" may be even more familiar than the book, movies, and musical that carry that title, kind of like "War and Peace," as I suggested in the post.ReplyDelete