Always wanted to see it, reveled in the soundtrack, but never got my chance. Now you too can journey to the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House to delight in the music of the night. Andrew Lloyd Webber is celebrating 25 years of Phantom and has pulled out all the stops for this staged version of the Broadway favorite.
In 1905, the Paris Opera House is auctioning off old props and most are being bought by the aged Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, (Hadley Fraser). Lot 665 is a mechanical monkey music box that was found in the catacombs beneath the opera and it stirs memories in Raoul, but Lot 666 is the repaired chandelier featured in the mysterious affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained. We flashback to the 1880s to then witness this strange affair.
The opera is shown rehearsing with diva Carlotta (Wendy Ferguson) but when she storms off the stage a replacement is needed. Ballet mistress Madame Giry (Liz Robertson) suggests that Christine Daae (Sierra Boggess) can sing the part since she has been secretly trained.
Christine indeed soars with her audition and we discover that her trainer, the mysterious Angel of Music, is the Phantom (Ramin Arimloo). She retreats with him to his underground lair, but not before a smitten Raoul recognizes her from their childhood.
This sets up a love triangle that threatens to bring terror crashing down onto the Opera house.
This version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s gothic masterwork returns more to the theatrical origins of the show. A filmed version was attempted but fell well short of doing anything. Up to this point, I had only seen the theatrical version of Webber’s musical but had always wanted to see how the Phantom looked onstage.
This is as close as I can come besides paying much more than the cost of a Blu-ray to do so. The staging and production of this anniversary edition, Phantom stalked the West End in 1986 and is still playing on Broadway and elsewhere, is marvelous. I was constantly amazed at how creative the staging was to fit the expansive opera house and story onto the stage.
Not to mention the fantastic costuming, design, and songs. Even my three year old was enrapt (for a time). Even better is that Webber comes out after the show and we’re treated to a curtain call with many past Phantoms, including Crawford (who doesn’t sing), and Webber’s Angel of Music – Sarah Brightman. I’m still humming the songs.
The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.78:1). Special features are presented in high definition and include the 17 minute making of “Getting Past the Point of No Return” and the 1 minute trailer for Love Never Dies, Webber’s sequel which is coming to Blu-ray in May 2012. Looks interesting, but you can’t help but think that any sequel will not live up to the original.
Phantom of the Opera shines in this anniversary edition and does much better than the film version. The Blu-ray only adds clarity and a decent selection of special features. It’s certainly cheaper than booking passage to New York to visit the theatrically recreated Paris Opera House.
Visit the DVD database for more information.