Phantom Of The Opera

Original Broadway Cast Recording

Polydor, 1987

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/18/2008

In many ways, Phantom of the Opera is both the textbook Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and a perfect example of how to create an enduring Broadway show. It represents Lloyd Webber at his peak.

Now, some would say that peak is only a foothill compared to, say, Rodgers and Hammerstein or Stephen Sondheim. Nevertheless, with the story of the love between two damaged people -- one physically disfigured and one emotionally broken -- Lloyd Webber created a musical that still resonates and is still relevant.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And it was perfectly cast.

As Christine Daae, the soprano plucked from the dance chorus and made into a star because of the vocal training she’s received from the Phantom, Sarah Brightman defined the role with her pure, quavering voice and her “little girl lost” eyes and demeanor.

Michael Crawford, as the Phantom, created the role so completely and fully that it has followed him around as a kind of chain since. His tenor, so strong, so insistent, yet so afraid, perfectly voiced the musical genius who was spurned by society and raised in the catacombs under the theatre because of a facial disfigurement.

Lloyd Webber has never been accused of being a subtle composer, and Phantom may be his most over-the-top creation, but that’s part of what makes it work so well. Presented as an actual opera (nearly every word is sung, even by the small parts), Lloyd Webber uses the conventions of opera -- the diva star due for her comeuppance, the heroic leading man who will do anything to save his love, etc. -- to tell the story and engage the audience on the wings of his soaring melodies.

And what melodies they are. Songs that are burned into the American theatre psyche: “Phantom Of The Opera,” “Music Of The Night,” “Masquerade,” “Think Of Me,” and the ever-present love song of all time, “All I Ask Of You.”

In 2004, the musical was finally brought to the movies. Unfortunately by this time, both Crawford and Brightman were too old to reprise their roles, but the movie captured much of the magic of the stage show, and is worth listening to on its own even though when watching it Phantom lovers hear Brightman and Crawford singing instead of their movie counterparts.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2008 Michael Ehret and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor, and is used for informational purposes only.