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185 of 205 found the following review helpful:
A Rich Combination of Power and Passion Apr 23, 2000
When I first heard the music from 'The Phantom of the Opera' 8yrs ago, almost instantly, a surge of emotion and inspiration tingled up my spine and I was in awe of the brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Strouse, and Richard Stilgoe. The composer, Lloyd Webber, has simply out done himself in this album, more so than in any of his other fantastic musicals. Not only did he choose a fascinatingly mysterious story to create his operatic musical, but his music is so powerful and so stirring for the listener, that they become part of the action in the musical. The lyrics, written by Charles Strouse and Richard Stilgoe, are brilliantly descriptive which creates rich imagery for the listeners. With the combination of both Lloyd Webber's compelling music and the lyricists' words, 'The Phantom of the Opera' is infallable. 'The Phantom of the Opera' consists of a number of songs which would appeal to listeners. The title song, "The Phantom of the Opera", involves the two leading characters, the Phantom and Christine, singing of how the former is incessantly in the mind of the latter. As this song contains rock and opera it would appeal to a wider variety of listeners. "The Music of the Night", one of Lloyd Webber's greatest pieces of music, is one of the most descriptive songs I have ever heard. A soft and haunting tune, this song's lyrics evoke fantastic description for listeners, and create a tension yet a resolution; and is in fact rather paradoxical, but amazing to listen to, as it is powerfully beautiful. "All I Ask of You" is one of the few positive songs in the album, which reveals the strong love between the main female character, Christine, and another central character, Raoul. This song has a touch of opera but is more of a 'musical' type song. Once again the lyrics are superb, involving passionate description. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", is a very stirring song on this album, as it is set in a graveyard. Christine creates a sense of sadness as she sings of how she misses her father, and the listeners are coerced into pitying her situation. Lloyd Webber's music is powerfully emotive and the lyrics are passionate, and thus appeals to the listener's own emotions. "Past the Point of No Return" is another haunting song in this album. When the Phantom sings it, with Christine, he is disguised as another character and he is actually performing to an audience on the stage. This song reveals the situation to the listeners, Christine is past the point of no return, she cannot turn back and must stay with the Phantom all of her life in his dark 'dungeon' below the opera house. The music and the lyrics are both emotive and stirring. The last scene is full of action and resolutions. However, the album leaves the listeners with a mystery, as the Phantom dissapears and leaves nothing but his mask. Yet, the last scene brings my favourite part of music in the whole album, which is when Raoul and the Phantom are singing together; The Phantom: "For either way you choose, you cannot win"; Raoul: "Either way you choose, he has to win." The harmony and the power created when these lines are sung are just outstanding and emotionally stirring. On every other 'Phantom' album I have heard I have not heard it sung nearly as well. Portraying a deformed, violent, obsessive murderer, yet passionate in music and Christine, Michael Crawford had a challenging task ahead of him when he was playing the Phantom. Yet, out of every Phantom I have heard, he is the greatest. Indeed he is not as emotional as Colm Wilkinson (who breathes too much in his portrayal), but he portrays the Phantom graciously and smoothly; Crawford has a massive lung capacity, as he holds onto notes for large amounts of time. The songs in the Phantom do not call for an abrupt and loud voice, as Colm uses in the "Original Canadian Cast" version, but a compellingly soft and smooth voice in which Crawford uses in this album. In fact, I believe Crawford uses fantastic emotions to depict the Phantom, such as when he is singing "I gave you my Music..." at the end of the first disk; the emotions Crawford uses are not over the top, but they are just right, and in my opinion, no one has matched Crawford's unique ability to portray the Phantom yet. Sarah Brightman, out of every other 'Phantom' I have heard, depicts Christine far greater than anyone else. Her voice is very clear and high-pitched and no one else seems to be able to compare. Steve Barton's Raoul is very good, although his voice is not very powerful, he is still very emotive. Overall, "The Phantom of the Opera" 1986 Original London Cast, is by far the greatest album to buy out of all of the other albums. The cast is the best I've heard and the music and the lyrics are awe-inspiring. I have one complaint, though; I would have loved the album to be complete. However, Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius and with his lyricists has immortalised Gaston Leroux's early twentieth century gothic novel.
52 of 59 found the following review helpful:
"The best musical ever made." Jul 20, 2003
"The Phantom of the Opera" is simply the best musical ever made. Sure, it has quite a bit of material lifted from Italian opera, but as an opera fan, I can appreciate that, and it enhances the score. No other musical equals this musically...from the complicated harmonies of "Notes" and "Wandering Child" to the vocally stunning "Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night." The lyrics are beautiful, the story simultaneously eerie, mysterious, touching, and deep. The only musical that comes close is Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." Neither Lord Lloyd Webber, Michael Crawford, nor Sarah Brightman have ever equaled their work here. It is a "love it or hate it" musical, definitely, but any lover of romance, mystery and great music will appreciate this show.
The original cast was also probably the greatest musical cast ever put together in one place. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman give the performances of their lifetimes...and ours. They have real, legitimate voices, not those awful Streisand/Minelli belts that cover Broadway today. While both are flawed performers in general, each found their best role in this show.
As for Crawford, he is the definitive Phantom. No one else's dramatic interpretation is anywhere close to his. He did it first, and he did it best. His beautiful tenor voice just takes the material and soars with it...from the eerie "Wandering Child" to the powerful title song to the seductive and incomparable "Music of the Night." Anyone who doesn't weep at the heartbreaking finale ("It's over now, the music of the night...") must have a heart of a stone, or a Broadway critic. Michael Crawford is the Phantom, and that is all there is to it. I have never seen anyone become a role the way he did in this show.
Sarah Brightman is not quite as good, but she is still vocally the best Christine. This material was unmistakably written for her, and her clear, bright, silvery soprano and enormous range makes every note dramatic and perfect. While some say her voice is too thin and weak for opera and pop, her current musical directions, her voice manages to fly above the music here without being overpowered. Since Christine's role does not require much dramatic range, her limited acting skills don't hamper the material, and she manages to make her one solo character song, "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," sufficiently poignant, even though it is musically the weakest song in the show.
The supporting cast is mainly strong, and any weakness here comes more from underwritten roles than lack of skill. Meg is always cast to make Christine sound good, so her voice must be a little weak. Raoul is such a boring, one-dimensional character that no actor, no matter how talented, can do much with the role. That aside, Steve Barton has a rich, gentle, and satisfying baritone that sounds good in his duets with Christine. Rosemary Ashe's Carlotta is actually cast for her own merits in this older CD, not to make Christine look good, as in the current Broadway produciton...she has by far a good enough voice to be a believable opera diva, and she has good comic timing.
I was shocked that Amazon critics, who gave favorable reviews to "Hairspray" and "Annie" of all musicals, felt the need to demean this beautiful show, definitely Lloyd Webber's best effort. Just goes to show how much quality Broadway has lost since the start of shows like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables." Go with the customer reviews and buy the full version, not the highlights. It's worth it. Trust me.
30 of 33 found the following review helpful:
Captivating & Hyptnotic! Addictive! Superlative! Jul 21, 1998
I have worn out my first CDs of the Phantom, and I'm on my second set. This is unquestionably the most provocative music and love story ever written! I love the witty humor of the script, also. One of my favorite parts is the Phantom's wicked little snicker when he hears Carlotta get a "toad" in her throat during her performance! You've just gotta hear it! It tells such a wonderfully exciting story that I must listen to it at least every other day. And, once I start listening to Disk 1, I can't turn it off until the end of Disk 2! It's truly an experience everyone should have at least once in their life. But I have to warn you ... once you've heard this music, you won't be able to do without it ever again! Michael Crawford as the Phantom is truly a star! Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton are brilliant! The other cast members are also great! I'd give it more stars if I could! And fyi...I'm not a person to take time out to write reviews; this is my fi! rst.
61 of 74 found the following review helpful:
Outstanding Jun 10, 2005
I first purchased this cd in 1988, shortly before seeing the show on Broadway. At first, only a couple of songs stood out, but after seeing the amazing production (Michael Crawford's performance was "jaw-dropping") & repeated listenings, I fell in love with the score.
The orchestrations are powerful & many songs really stick with you, especially:
Overture [sounds great cranked up]
Angel Of Music
The Phantom Of The Opera [The Phantom & Christine's great duet]
The Music Of The Night [The Phantom's big song]
All I Ask Of You [Christine & Raoul's duet - though a bit tired]
The Point Of Know Return
Beautiful from beginning to end & MUCH better than the film's soundtrack. Webber's masterpiece!
12 of 12 found the following review helpful:
AMAZING! Thank you AMAZON! Aug 10, 2006
This CD set just blows me away. It even has stage directions in the liner notes, and PHANTASTIC (:-) ) pictures. The sounds you hear is like watching the performance with your eyes closed. I LOVE IT! If you want a phantom CD, get this one first. I got the highlights first, but it didn't have the lyrics, but this one does. So, i HIGHLY reccomend this CD. :-) Hope this helps!
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