More Than a Miracle

The Film

These track-by-track commentaries for Kenner and More Than a Miracle supplement the essay by John Bender found in the booklet accompanying FSM’s CD release of these scores. The online notes are also available as a PDF file for more convenient printing.

Disc 2

14. Main Titles (Prince Rodrigo Theme)
Prince Rodrigo’s mother (Dolores Del Rio) implores her son to obey the order—from his father, the Spanish king—to marry one of seven Italian princesses who await him in his banquet hall. Rodrigo defies her, however, and rides out of the courtyard on an untamed stallion, accompanied by an outburst of scornful tremolo strings. The main titles run their course as he continues to ride across the landscape, with his searching theme unwinding on winds and strings over its aching harpsichord accompaniment. The theme ends as the wild horse throws him, leaving him stranded in the open countryside.
15. Rodrigo Lost in the Corn Fields
A light setting of the main theme’s accompaniment takes shape for Rodrigo collecting his saddle and traveling through the Italian countryside on foot.
Rodrigo Sees Brother Joseph, The Flying Monk
As the prince proceeds through a cave-like passage of rough stone, Piccioni introduces a gentle lullaby on strings over harp, foreshadowing the appearance of Brother Joseph (Leslie French). Oboe assumes the melody when Rodrigo sees a monastery ahead and finds the monk floating in air, to the delight of a group of children. Angelic renditions of Joseph’s theme spotlight glockenspiel, organ and choir as the monk lands, rejoining the children and Rodrigo on the ground.
16. Rodrigo Leaves the Monastery
The monk gives Rodrigo a bag of flour and tells the prince to find a woman who will make seven dumplings for him; if he can eat all seven, she will be his bride. Unison horns state a fanfare rendition of the main theme as Rodrigo rides from the monastery on the friar’s mule. The main theme enters as Rodrigo proceeds to a crop field, where he finds his horse tethered. The cue subsides as a Neapolitan peasant girl, Isabella (Sophia Loren), appears and confronts the prince, claiming the stallion to be hers.
17. Rodrigo and Isabella’s First Meeting
Isabella does not believe Rodrigo when he reveals that he is a prince, becoming indignant when he reclaims the horse and offers her the mule in return. A subdued setting of the prince’s material sounds for Isabella sitting by a tree and watching the prince tame the stallion from afar. An unused passage (0:49–1:58) introduces the love theme briefly on horn, followed by a development of Rodrigo’s theme; the new romantic melody receives a full presentation from flute and strings as the prince rejoins Isabella in the field. She cries out in protest when Rodrigo sends the mule back to the monastery, the love theme playing up his attraction to her as he basks in her beauty. The film version of this cue is slightly different—the tempo faster, with rich strings taking over the melody at the end.
18. Rodrigo Rides A Horse/New Love’s Birth
Piccioni reprises Rodrigo’s theme as the prince playfully circles his stallion around Isabella and rides off. Only about 1:00 of this material appears in the film. The cue ends with an unused reading of the love theme for flute.
19. Rodrigo Courts Isabella
Isabella returns to her village, but Rodrigo follows her. The fanfare version of the prince’s theme calls out when she spots him outside the back door of her house, sitting on his horse. After she angrily dismisses him, gentle strings lead to a serene rendition of the love theme for the prince admiring the beauty of his surroundings. Brother Joseph’s theme returns when Rodrigo spots the village church in the distance; he remembers his bag of flour and runs back to Isabella’s house to ask her to make him seven dumplings. In the film, the music continues with an arrangement of the love theme for flute, harp and sustained strings (very similar to the one in track 17).
20. Isabella’s Sadness
When Isabella deprives Rodrigo of a single dumpling (one she herself has eaten), he pulls a prank, feigning death to punish her. She in turn gathers the villagers, who steal his royal ring before burying his body in a ditch, fearful that his death will attract the Spanish troops. The love theme sounds when Isabella returns home, with a stark reading of Brother Joseph’s theme interrupting as she looks down at Rodrigo’s plate of dumplings.
In the Witches’ Realm
In a subsequent unscored scene, Isabella (who knows that the prince was only pretending to be a corpse) checks the ditch for Rodrigo but he has disappeared. Shortly thereafter, she accompanies a witch (Carlo Pisacane) to her coven in the woods, in hopes of learning what has become of the prince. For Isabella’s meeting with the witches, eerie strings and bells surround the hags’ plucky, repeated-note theme, along with mystical, glissandi-laden settings of Brother Joseph’s theme and the love theme. The witches provide Isabella with a spell meant to make Rodrigo fall in love with her, but Isabella recites it incorrectly, paralyzing the prince instead. An alternate version of this cue appears in the film, incorporating much of the same material.
21. Spanish Soldiers’ Arrival
The prince’s doctor determines that the paralysis is due to a spell cast by a woman, so Rodrigo sets off in search of Isabella. An off-kilter concoction of brass, piano and percussion signals danger as Spanish soldiers approach the village church on horseback. The panicked peasants gather inside and decide to throw Isabella out so that she can take responsibility for “killing” Rodrigo and stealing his ring. Solo timpani and high-hat cymbal sound as she faces down the soldiers, who reveal that they have come to see her on behalf of the prince.
Prince Rodrigo’s Cavalcade
Rodrigo’s theme emerges over the established percussive foundation as the prince’s cavalcade, bearing the paralyzed Rodrigo on a litter, arrives at the church. A pensive bassoon reading of Rodrigo’s theme plays over timpani as one of his representatives addresses Isabella, informing her that she must kiss the prince on the lips. The film dials out a boisterous rendition of the main theme’s accompaniment (at 3:11) before soldiers escort Isabella over to the paralyzed Rodrigo.
First Kiss
An aching rendition of the love theme sounds as she turns the royal ring over to the representative and kisses the prince, the music dropping out as the spell is broken. Rodrigo explodes with rage, demanding that Isabella explain her part in his paralysis.
Isabella’s Revelation and Punishment
Piccioni reprises the love theme (at 4:49) when she confesses that she cast the spell because she loves him; he responds by sealing her in a barrel as punishment for partaking in witchcraft. The climatic rendition of the love theme (at 5:44) does not appear in the film.
22. Prince Rodrigo Returns to the Castle
Rodrigo’s theme sounds on bassoon over a quiet timpani pulse as the prince announces that Isabella is to remain in the barrel for five days; he rides off, marked by a reprise of the harpsichord treatment of his theme.
Isabella Locked Up in a Barrel
Hazy tremolo strings surround suggestions of Brother Joseph’s theme and the love theme as Isabella peers through a hole in the barrel. The witches’ theme surfaces when the old crone arrives on the scene, surreptitiously sneaking over to the barrel and prodding it with her magic walking stick. The witches’ theme unravels playfully as the now-enchanted barrel rolls down a hill and into a stream.
The Barrel Ends Up in the Sea
A lush presentation of the love theme follows for the barrel floating down the stream; it eventually washes up on a shore, where a group of children discover it and break it open, revealing Isabella to be unconscious.
Isabella Wakes Up
She awakens, marked by a tranquil rendition of Rodrigo’s theme for horns and tremolo strings, and examines her surroundings.
23. The Tournament
An unused passage features rich chordal brass with suggestions of the love theme for the children leading Isabella to a royal tournament where Rodrigo and his men face off against a team of Moors. Piccioni intended regal brass and timpani to sound through an opening ceremony; instead, the film tracks in material from “Spanish Soldiers’ Arrival.” The composer uses the same material for the actual tournament (1:15), during which the competitors ride around a field on horses, pelting each others’ shielded backs with rubber spears. When Rodrigo reigns victorious, propulsive timpani and high-hat cymbal sound as he rides over to the royal box to receive an honor.
Prince Rodrigo’s Victory
After a viceroy informs the prince that he has seven days to choose a bride from the seven princesses, the main theme sounds as Rodrigo rides off, while his people cheer his victory.
24. The Chef
In an attempt to get close to Rodrigo, Isabella becomes a kitchen maid and works for the obnoxious palace chef, Jean-Jacques Bouché (Georges Wilson). Piccioni’s puckish theme for the chef spotlights flute, bassoon and harpsichord as he prepares a meal in the kitchen (only about 0:13 seconds of which appears in the film).
The Eggs Are Bewitched/The Castle
After a transition to nighttime, impressionistic strings surround Brother Joseph’s theme for the witch sneaking into a palace storeroom containing a pile of 3,000 eggs. The witches’ theme cautiously surfaces as she casts a spell on the eggs, with her material bleeding into a warm reading of Rodrigo’s theme for a segue to an exterior shot of the palace the next morning. The finished film slightly extends the latter part of the witches’ material.
25. The Seven Princesses/The Chef (Part 2)
The chef’s theme alternates between deliberate and accelerated readings as the seven princesses sit nervously in the banquet hall awaiting Prince Rodrigo’s arrival. The film version of this cue is shorter and edited differently.
26. Birth of the Chicks
A playful setting of the witches’ theme sounds over nervous strings as chicks begin to hatch from the pile of eggs in the storeroom.
The Chef (Part 3)
The chef’s music returns for a transition to the kitchen, where the chef barks orders at Isabella, until a horde of chicks suddenly floods the palace. (The passage from 0:26 to 0:54 does not appear in the film.)
Invasion of the Chicks
A fragile concoction of upper-register woodwinds, harpsichord, and squealing strings builds to the witches’ theme as the chef’s servants struggle to gather up the chicks. The texture thins out to solo piano for a shot of a lone chick wandering out a palace door. (The material from 1:22 to 2:23 does not appear in the film.)
27. Isabella Sees Prince Rodrigo’s Portrait
Isabella follows the lone escaped chick into an empty room and captures it. The fanfare rendition of Rodrigo’s theme sounds as she looks up and sees a portrait of the prince mounted on a wall, with the harpsichord material emerging as she studies the picture.
Prince Rodrigo Searches for Brother Joseph
The material builds through a transition to Rodrigo riding toward the monastery.
Brother Joseph’s Funeral
Piccioni reprises Brother Joseph’s theme on organ with choir as a monk greets Rodrigo at the front gate and explains that the flying monk has died; the monk leads the prince inside, where others have gathered to pay tribute to Joseph.
28. Prince Rodrigo Returns to the Palace
Piccioni reprises the main theme as Rodrigo returns to the palace. The finished film replaces this cue by mysterious string writing with hints of Brother Joseph’s theme, similar to music heard in “In the Witches’ Realm” (Track 20).

Disc 3

1. Prince Rodrigo Finds Isabella
Shimmering strings lead to a unison reading of Brother Joseph’s theme for Rodrigo following a trail of flour to a palace pantry and discovering Isabella sitting alone.
The Kiss
Horns and strings state the love theme as the two protagonists silently stare at one another, with the material swelling as they finally kiss. A subdued rendition of the love theme follows for strings, harp, celesta and guitar when Rodrigo tells Isabella of his plan to enter her into a dishwashing contest that will determine who will become his bride. An alternate version of this cue appears in the film but centers on the same material. (A tracked-in reprise of the chef’s music, heard as he unhappily follows the prince’s order to make all the dishes as dirty and greasy as possible, is not included on this CD.)
2. The Seven Princesses
Plucky, lighthearted strings and woodwinds lead to the chef’s theme for the princesses (and Isabella, disguised in an elegant gown) arriving at a palace hall to partake in the dishwashing contest; the princess who finishes first and breaks the fewest plates will marry the prince. (The music for Isabella’s entrance is different in the film, perhaps to distinguish her from the other contestants.)
The Dishwashing Contest
Once the women reach their stations, Piccioni playfully develops the witches’ theme for the contest itself. (Only the second half of the contest, scored with essentially the same music as the first, is included here.)
Isabella Loses the Contest
Portentous string chords interrupt the merriment when Isabella’s plates mysteriously begin to snap in half one by one, with the love theme sounding as she resigns herself to defeat.
Despaired Isabella Escapes
After Rodrigo’s mother announces that he is to marry the Princess of Altamura (Marina Malfatti), the prince slaps Isabella across the face (tremolo strings at 4:24, extended by a timpani roll in the film) and she runs from the room in tears, marked by an anguished rendition of the main theme’s accompaniment.
3. Brother Joseph Appears to Isabella on the Beach
Isabella returns to the beach, where Brother Joseph descends from the clouds, with a serene rendition of his theme marking his appearance.
Brother Joseph Comforts Isabella
The film dials out the following passage (0:17–1:09) as he encourages her to return to the palace and expose the truth behind what happened at the dishwashing contest. His theme returns to the film soundtrack with organ and choir as he floats up into the sky and joins a group of fellow flying saints.
4. Folk Dance (In the Castle Gardens)
On the day of Rodrigo’s wedding, a ceremonial source piece for fife and drums plays as the prince’s subjects enjoy a feast in the palace courtyard. (A short fanfare that opens the scene is not included here.)
5. Isabella Discovers the Trick
The love theme tentatively takes shape on strings as a cloaked Isabella shows up at the wedding party; once she silences the other guests, Rodrigo watches as she proposes a toast to him, thanking him on behalf of his subjects.
The Truth Revealed
She goes on to inform Rodrigo that the plates in the contest were sliced with a diamond ring belonging to the Princess of Altamura. Tremolo strings and brass swells build suspense as Rodrigo removes the ring from his bride’s finger and uses it to cut his plate in half. The chef’s theme returns as he takes responsibility for showing the princess how to cut the plates (he did not want a dishwasher to become queen) and is subsequently escorted to prison.
Isabella, the New Princess
Piccioni intended Rodrigo’s theme and the love theme (2:57–3:54) to play as the guests celebrate the union of Rodrigo and Isabella. The finished film replaces this material with a reprise of the Roger Williams recording.
Love Triumphs and Finale
The film dials the cue back in with the witches’ theme as Rodrigo’s subjects continue to dance in the courtyard, before the main theme unfolds through the end titles.

Alternate Takes and Outtakes

6. Prince Rodrigo Theme
This light setting of the main theme focuses on the accompanying material, omitting the actual melody and emphasizing solo guitar.
7. Brother Joseph, the Flying Monk (alternate)
Piccioni recorded a light, alternate version of Brother Joseph’s theme for the saint’s introduction.
8. Isabella and Rodrigo (Love Theme)
This subdued arrangement of the love theme spotlights flute, guitar, harp and strings.
9. Isabella and Rodrigo (Love Theme)
In this unused cue, Piccioni mixes a development of the love theme with Rodrigo’s material as well as Brother Joseph’s theme.
10. Rodrigo Rides a Horse (alternate)
The composer recorded a variety of alternates—most featuring brassy renditions of Rodrigo’s accompanying material—for the prince leaving the monastery.
11. Prince Rodrigo Courts Isabella (alternate)
This alternate cue focuses on a tender arrangement of the love theme and omits Brother Joseph’s melody when Rodrigo spots the church in Isabella’s village.
12. The Seven Princesses
Piccioni recorded a lighthearted cue of chattering strings, winds and harpsichord for the introduction to the dishwashing contest.
13. Brother Joseph, The Flying Monk
This unused rendition of Brother Joseph’s theme features a mandolin in the orchestration.
14. Invasion of the Chicks
A sparse alternate cue for the chick invasion suggests the witches’ music, featuring a creepy escalation for piano, harpsichord and strings.
15. Prince Rodrigo Theme
This restrained version of Rodrigo’s theme voices the melody on flute.
16. Prince Rodrigo Theme (wild)
This cue features another flute-driven arrangement of Rodrigo’s theme.
17. Prince Rodrigo Theme
Piccioni delicately presents the accompanying material from Rodrigo’s theme on strings, piano, harp and harpsichord.
18. Prince Rodrigo Theme
This cue focuses on further developments of Rodrigo’s accompanying material.
19. Isabella and Rodrigo (Love Theme)
Yearning solo violin introduces the love theme in this cue.
20. Brother Joseph, the Flying Monk
Strings and woodwinds state Brother Joseph’s theme.
21. Isabella and Rodrigo (Love Theme)
Low-register flute states the Love Theme over harp and strings.
22. Prince Rodrigo Theme
This cue features a plucky setting of Rodrigo’s accompanying material.
23. Prince Rodrigo Theme
Another delicate setting of Rodrigo’s accompanying material features organ, harpsichord and guitar.
24. Invasion of the Chicks (alternate)
Another alternate of the chicks’ invasion offers a light, textural escalation based on the witches’ material.
25. Birth of the Chicks
This version of the chicks’ music features a more overt development of the witches’ material.
26. The Witches
Murky, low-register colors develop the comical witches’ theme in this alternate cue.
27–30. Prince Rodrigo Theme
A collection of unused cues features Rodrigo’s theme, both with and without the melody.
31–35. Prince Rodrigo Theme
These unused cues offer slower renditions of Rodrigo’s material.
36. Prince Rodrigo Theme/Love Theme
Piccioni combines the love theme with Rodrigo’s accompaniment in this cue.
37. Prince Rodrigo Theme/Love Theme
This cue uses Rodrigo’s accompanying material to outline the harmonies of the love theme.
38. Isabella and Rodrigo (Love Theme)
In this track, a soothing rendition of the love theme unfolds without the melody.
39. Prince Rodrigo Theme
Harpsichord, guitar and percussion drive Rodrigo’s accompanying material in this cue.
40. Prince Rodrigo Theme
Flute performs Rodrigo’s melody in this arrangement of his material.
41. Prince Rodrigo Theme (Main Title)
This track features a re-orchestrated rendition of the main title, voicing the melody on woodwinds instead of horns.
42. 1967 Recording Session
This recording features the voices of Piero Piccioni, conductor Bruno Nicolai and sound engineer Federico Savina:
Savina: “Pick-up 2.”
Piccioni: “Finale—let vibrate all—percussion—all that is available—kettledrums, cymbals, all.”
Nicolai: “Confirm the sound…again as second time…attention to Finale.”
Piccioni: “Ready!”
followed by a gentle reading of the love theme. —