More Than a Miracle

The LP

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

1. “More Than a Miracle”
This arrangement of Piccioni’s principal theme, arranged and conducted by Ralph Carmichael, was recorded at Western Recorders in Hollywood in July 1967; a follow-up session took place in August to re-record the rhythm section when the studio decided the beat of the original recording was too strong for a picture set in the 16th Century. The recording features popular pianist Roger Williams and a male chorus singing lyrics by Larry Kusik and Eddie Snyder. Kapp Records released the track, both on LP (“More Than a Miracle”—KS3550—later re-titled “The Impossible Dream”) and on a 45rpm single (843). It plays in the film as an overture heard over psychedelic waves of colored light and an image of a diamond ring belonging to Prince Rodrigo (Omar Sharif). The yearning love theme encapsulates the fairytale romance that develops between Prince Rodrigo and peasant girl Isabella (Sophia Loren).
2. Prince Rodrigo
In the album’s standalone rendition of Piccioni’s main theme—a pop-flavored tune for Prince Rodrigo—suspenseful tremolo strings give way to syncopated harpsichord, harp and percussion; this accompanying material becomes a motive unto itself throughout the score. An aching, whimsical melody enters over harmony that alternates between major and minor to evoke Rodrigo’s dilemma: Will he find his true love or be forced to marry one of the seven princesses?
3. Brother Joseph
Delicate strings, oboe and harp state the theme for Brother Joseph (Leslie French). The gentle, gradually rising lullaby lends the monk an otherworldly religious quality, capturing his ability to fly while evoking his wisdom.
4. Isabella and Rodrigo
An instrumental version of Piccioni’s dreamy love theme offers reassurance throughout Rodrigo’s turbulent relationship with Isabella. This album arrangement of the theme presents it on flute, strings and harp, and closes with a suggestion of Rodrigo’s material.
5. Rodrigo Leaves the Monastery
For the album, a pure rendition of Rodrigo’s theme represents the prince riding away from Brother Joseph’s monastery and discovering his wayward stallion in a field.
6. The Chef
A puckish, scheming theme for the palace chef (Georges Wilson) spotlights harpsichord, flute and bassoon.
7. Isabella in the Barrel
Prince Rodrigo punishes Isabella for casting a spell on him by sealing her up in a barrel outside her church. Impressionistic strings incorporate Brother Joseph’s theme and the love theme as Isabella peers out of the barrel. A mischievous repeated-note theme represents Isabella’s witch friend (Carlo Pisacane) sneaking over and enchanting the barrel. Piccioni develops the tune amid swirling strings and oom-pah accompaniment as the barrel rolls down a hill and into a stream. Brother Joseph’s theme gently emerges, leading to a reiteration of the love theme as the barrel winds up on a beach, where a group of children free Isabella. Aside from the fleeting statement of Brother Joseph’s theme, this arrangement is largely identical to its counterpart in the film.
8. Isabella and Rodrigo in the Pantry
A lush setting of the love theme for strings, guitar and harp plays as Isabella reunites with Rodrigo in a palace pantry, where they kiss for the first time.
9. The Tournament
Piccioni evokes Rodrigo’s soldiers with a jazzy groove for timpani and hi-hat cymbal as well as a violent passage for off-kilter piano and brass. This material appears twice in the film, first for Rodrigo’s men arriving outside Isabella’s church and later for a royal tournament at Rodrigo’s castle.
10. The Eggs Are Bewitched
The witch casts a spell on a pile of eggs at the palace, which later causes them to hatch. The album version of the cue features a warm arrangement of Brother Joseph’s theme on strings, organ and glockenspiel.
11. The Contest
When thousands of chicks hatch from their eggs and storm the palace, squeaking strings and pounding timpani surround the witch’s theme.
12. Brother Joseph Comforts Isabella
The witch’s theme sounds over magical arpeggios and oom-pah accompaniment. Its setting here is similar to the climatic dishwashing music in the film.
13. End Title “More Than a Miracle”
The album’s “End Title” features tender renditions of Rodrigo’s theme and the love theme, before closing with Rodrigo’s theme in its rambunctious “Main Title” setting. — 

From the original MGM Records LP…

The happy and brilliant score for More Than a Miracle is a light-hearted departure for composer Piero Piccioni. But this glamorous, romantic, spectacular adventure involving princes on white stallions, monks who fly, and a royal dishwashing contest is a departure for everyone involved. The hit title song, included herein, is played with memorable beauty by Roger Williams and his orchestra.

THE STORY Prince Rodrigo (Omar Sharif) is everything a prince should be, but, to the displeasure of his mother (Delores Del Rio) he is more interested in horses than in marrying a princess. One day he encounters a monk (Leslie French) with the power to fly. The monk presents Ramon with some magic flour which, when baked into seven dumplings and eaten, will enable the prince to choose a wife. His first opportunity to put this magic to work comes in the person of a beautiful peasant girl named Isabella (Sophia Loren), but she bakes only six dumplings. After a series of adventures, matters come to a head and seven princesses have made the semi-finals as Ramon’s bride-elect. But when Ramon learns that Isabella is now working in his castle as a dishwasher he decides on a dishwashing contest. To everyone’s amazement, Isabella loses to the Princess of Altimara, but the flying monk finds out that the dishes have been tampered with, and a joyous banquet is prepared to celebrate the betrothal of Ramon and Isabella.

In association with M-G-M, Carlo Ponti has produced such highly successful films as Doctor Zhivago, The 25th Hour and Lady L. More in the style of his native Italy are his equally successful productions Two Women, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Marriage Italian Style—all with Sophia Loren, who is herself MORE THAN A MIRACLE.

As director of such films as Hands on the City, Salvatore Guilliano and the highly acclaimed bull-fight drama Moment of Truth, Francesco Rosi has earned the status of one of Europe’s most important directors.

Piccioni’s previous film scores include The Tenth Victim, The Witches, Hands on the City and Moment of Truth—the last two also for Francesco Rosi, the director of More Than a Miracle.