October 28, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 25 anniversary. It is the world’s most famous and successful musical of all time. The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the French novel "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra" by Gaston Leroux. The Phantom of the Opera opened in the West End in 1986, celebrating its 25th anniversary in October 2011. It opened on Broadway in 1988 and is the longest-running show in Broadway history. To celebrate this 25th anniversary The Phantom of the Opera were performed in London's Royal Albert Hall, and this gorgeous show was produced by Cameron Mackintosh.

Ramin Karimloo as ‘The Phantom’

“The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall”
was starred by Ramin Karimloo as ‘The Phantom’, Sierra Boggess as ‘Christine’ and Hadley Fraser as ‘Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny’.

The 25th Anniversary Performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” was recorded live, on October 2nd, at the Royal Albert Hall. It was then shown on big screen - for example in Finland it was in selected movie theaters on the 26th and 27th of October 2011. It was shown in Tampere only one time, on the 26th but in Helsinki (capital city of Finland) it was shown on 26th and ALSO for the second time on the next day. If I would live in Helsinki, I would have gone seen it twice!

 I knew the show was amazing but shamefully I had never seen it before. I had only seen the movie version many, many times. So I was at the same time extremely enthusiastic and anticipated to see what can be done without all those techniques and tricks of the movie industry, and how the same feeling would be created live on the stage (I knew it would be great, I hadn’t seen anything). Right from the beginning I had this feeling that I should never doubt that... I saw that it was going to be as great if not even better in its own way. The show was not missing creative special effects and I was anxious to see how they did their way with the chandelier, because you can't drop it on the audience. I was kind of pleased by how they had made the phantoms deformed face, it was still what everyone would tough was hidden beneath the mask but I found it somehow lovely theatrical with all that little shimmer of silver glitter without making it too gory to catch the eye without being able to concentrate on anything but the face. (Did you know that originally the Phantom’s whole face was covered up, but afterwards only half was covered so he could sing.)

The first view at the hall and you saw a huge thing hanging from the ceiling, covered with fabric and numbers 666. The musical started with an auction, selling away the opera house property. The item numbers slowly got closer to 666 and the item before it was the monkey playing the cymbals. And then the item 666 was revealed and everyone knew it must be the legendary chandelier. And after the revealing came the magnificent overture which gave me chills.

Masquerade scene

The music itself is amazing and the show was breathtaking and the costumes were absolutely gorgeous - I can not praise the costumes enough. Everything was so amazingly created and done with every detail. Every detail was so creatively done and one of the scenes I enjoyed the most was the masquerade scene and with the choreography and everything it was absolutely perfect. Design by Matt Kinley inspired by Maria Björnson’s original design *.  Choreography and Musical Staging was by Gillian Lynne (based on the original London Production Directed by Hal Prince with Musical Staging and Choreography by Gillian Lynne).

All the singers were amazing, but especially The Phantom and Christine gave me chills... and that’s always a good sign. And it was so easy to go along with it all, and the intensity and the phantom’s love towards Christine and how it all ended. I cried.

And then after the end, came Andrew Lloyd Webber himself and gave a speech. And special appearances the former Phantoms and Sarah Brightman and they all performed “The Phantom Of The Opera” with Ramin Kamirloo. Amazing...

In 2004 a movie version was made from The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring with Gerard Butler as ‘the Phantom’, Emmy Rossum as ‘Christine’ and Patrick Wilson as ‘Raoul’. Many other movies about “The Phantom of the Opera” have been made earlier, but I have only seen this latest one. Of coarse the movie is somehow shorter version of the musical and some parts are shorter, a bit modified or cut out. But you still get the whole picture and all... The only thing that left me kind of bothered was the ending. You won’t be missing the plot, but I think the ending was still kind of even too modified comparing to the musical version. I don’t think the movie version was bad but the musical version was definitely better and showed that the Phantom of the Opera really was a Phantom (somehow at least, was it a part of his histrionics or something else.. I don’t know) – I don’t want to give too much away.

Masquerade scene from the movie

Even still, when I first saw the movie I was impressed - about the whole movie and especially by The Phantoms performance played by Gerard Butler. It must be very nerve-racking because all eyes are on the phantom, and the performer must have not chosen lightly but still every act, performance and singing is judged because without phantom there is no the PHANTOM of the opera. And Gerard Butler who has starred such action films as "Gamer" and "300", still showing her soft side which make every woman drool in romantic movies as "The Ugly Truth" and "The Bounty Hunter", he does bend even as the charming phantom of the opera – and damn he can sing! And that’s another thing that made me obsessed with him even more (I mean great looks, he’s acting, his voice). After this movie and the musicals, Christine is not alone anymore, for now women from all over the world are feeling the same...

The movie is such a great to watch even for a person who just doesn’t fancy operas at all, that even if you belong to those people, you kind of forget that and focus in the movie itself, and other things. And that's the best part, because after the movie you just want to see the actual opera, for it just doesn't feel complete without it - to me at least. - If someone possibly have been missed that Gerard is the phantom the one will be surprised at the end credits...

Gerard Butler as ‘The Phantom’

If you have seen the movie before you have seen the actual musical, you’ll find yourself comparing Gerard to anyone who is playing the phantom (in this case to Ramin Karimloo), even you don't want to. And even they might not be as much as actors, but singers. I believe this same thing will happen but in reverse if you have seen the musical before the movie...

* Maria Björnson designed the sets and over 200 costumes, including the elaborate gowns in the "Masquerade" sequence. Her set designs, including such indelible elements as the chandelier, subterranean gondola, and the sweeping staircase, set a standard for stage spectacle seldom equalled, and earned her multiple awards. (http://mariabjornson.com/phantom.html)

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