Arts Review

QSO Casino Royale

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra's present Casino Royale.

Concert Hall, Brisbane Convention Centre

Friday 15th March, 2024


Dr Gemma Regan


The QSO’s incredible immersive performance of Casino Royale had the audience both shaken and stirred!


The iconic James Bond theme by Monty Norman rang out to close the immersive concert with the punchy bold brass fanfare and epic electric guitar. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Casino Royale was an incredible night, both shaking and stirring the audience with their talent.


The innovative QSO enjoy blurring the boundaries between musical performances and multi-dimensional experiences with their hugely popular screenings of the Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Star Wars films and live accompaniment of the soundtracks. The unique Cineconcerts at the Brisbane Convention Centre enable the audience to witness a live symphonic orchestra playing the soundtrack below a high-definition 12-metre screen for a 4D, five-star immersive experience. 


Out of all of the legendary movie cinema concerts by the QSO, one genre has been missing for the more discerning and sophisticated audience. Their first concert of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, opened with a fan favourite in the nail-biting Casino Royale.


The packed foyer was the first stage of the immersive Bond experience, with a gorgeous DB12 Aston Martin in the foyer for the delight of both Bond and car fans. Many women were dressed up as Bond girls in various states of undress, accompanied by the classic James Bond in the classic black tie tuxedo.


Director Martin Campbell's Casino Royale focuses on the beginning of the legendary career as the fearless 007 as an MI6 operative. Daniel Craig, in his inaugural role as James Bond, relishes his newly acquired licence to kill. M, played by the British treasure, Judi Dench, suffers no fools and is exasperated by the incorrigible cheeky spy as he chases down the ice-cold terrorist banking magnate played by Mads Mikkelsen, known as Le Chiffre, French for the Cipher.


David Arnold's intense musical score opens after a short black and white thrilling scene in a bathroom with a swinging main theme, You Know My Name, written with the legendary singer Chris Cornell. The woozy brass and electric guitar is in the style of Monty Norman’s iconic James Bond theme. The bold brass and guitar motifs interweave with the thrilling action scenes throughout the film until swelling to an intense finale. 


The thrill of a live orchestra magnified the excitement, accompanying the iconic casino-styled montage for an epic opening to the evening. With the orchestra seated below the screen and Dolby speakers throughout the concert hall, the immersion during the action scenes was phenomenal. The waves of emotive, brassy tones reverberated within your very being, intensifying with the loud live soundscape.


The multi-talented conductor Vanessa Scammell was the ideal Bond girl. Dressed in a black cocktail dress, she skilfully conducted the QSO whilst swaying to the funky rhythms. Her diverse conducting repertoire of ballet, musical theatre, opera, pop and classical concerts was also invaluable for the split-second timing required to stay in step with the film. Indeed, the orchestral performance was so slick that early on, I was shocked to look below the screen and see the musicians were still there playing!


Casino Royale is packed with death-defying stunts and a well choreographed parkour scene before the tense high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. Bond pursues the enigmatically cool Le Chiffre from Madagascan jungles to the white-shored Caribbean, finally ending in an exciting chase on the Grand Canal in Venice. This is the film that has it all, including an iconic line from Bond after drinking poison and surviving a heart attack when he returns to the poker table ten minutes later stating, "I’m sorry, that last hand nearly killed me."


The two Bond girls also have their own songs and motifs. Operative co-worker Vesper Lynd, played naively by Eva Green, who becomes his first love has a gently romantic motif in Vesper. It starts softly with solemn strings to return more passionately in City Of Lovers


His first female conquest as 007 is Solange Dimitrios (Caterina Murino), the wife of Alex Dimitrios, a Greek contractor and criminal operative. It has a strings-heavy motif in Solange and is revisited when Bond takes not only his wife but his beloved DB5 at the poker table.


Monty Norman’s iconic 1962 James Bond theme from Dr No rarely appears, effectively highlighting Bond’s youthfulness and operative inexperience. The impact when the theme does surface in all its glory at the end of the film was magnificent and brilliantly executed by the QSO. The classic 007 theme effectively celebrates his first successful mission as a spy, rewarding him and the audience with the ultimate iconic James Bond finish.

The QSO’s immersive James Bond experience in Casino Royale was incredible, not surprising as the QSO, like Bond "never miss!”


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