The Phantom Of The Opera At The Royal Albert Hall(2 Disc Set)
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2011 two CD release. Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera is a worldwide entertainment phenomenon. It has been staged in 145 cities across 27 countries and has been seen by over 130 million people, its box office sales eclipse Avatar, Titanic and Star Wars and the original cast recording album remains one of the biggest selling music titles of all time. To celebrate its 25th Anniversary year, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh present The Phantom Of The Opera in a fully-staged, lavish production, set in the sumptuous Victorian splendor of the Royal Albert Hall. The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall stars Ramin Karimloo as 'The Phantom' and Sierra Boggess as 'Christine'. They are joined by Hadley Fraser as `Raoul', Barry James as 'Monsieur Firmin', Gareth Snook as 'Monsieur Andr', Liz Robertson as 'Madame Giry', Wynne Evans as 'Piangi' and a supporting cast and orchestra of over 200, plus some special guest appearances. Polydor.
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Top Customer Reviews
The recording of the great performance in the Albert Hall was breath-taking, and the reunion of all those men who have played the Phantom was inspired.
A stunningly wonderful show!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Why? 3 reasons: the cast, the orchestra, and the 4 Phantoms (no Sarah sadly, but I'll get to that). So, first orchestra. While this score would probably still sound good with a 10 piece, letting it blast with a 200 piece just sends it through the roof. And while some got irritated by the edition of a few modern sounding instruments (such as an electric guitar) I personally liked it. I think it gave it an edge it has never had before.
Next, the 4 Phantoms. To be completely fair Colm Wilkinson was the only one I personally recognized as a Phantom Past but the four sounded so beautiful together it made me wish I had seen them all. And yes, the CD only features "Music of the Night" and not the duet with Sarah Brightman. Why? I have no idea. But it, and some editing choices are the only bad things to say about this recording.
Lastly, the cast. Even characters beyond the 3 central seem more in dept and more thought out than I've ever seen before (and I've seen the movie and various live productions). I don't mean to short change them in this review but I've probably lost most of you already so I'll just jump to the central 3 after a brief mention that everyone sounds fantastic. First, Hadley Fraser as Raoul. I have to admit, Raoul as a character has always irritated me. I'm not really sure why, but he has...until now. Again, I'm not sure what is it about Hadley's voice and performance but for the first time I actually enjoy Raoul's presence in the story. Plus, Hadley's voice is just so rich and, for lack of a better word, so self assured it makes him perfect as the rich aristocrat. Now, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. In my opinion, the best pairing of Erik and Christine I've ever seen/heard. Sierra brings a softness and a openness along with her beautiful soprano that just knocks her songs out of the park. It is also the first time a Christine has sounded so equally (yet differently)good with both her Raoul and her Phantom. Which brings me to Ramin. His take on the character is so unique to anything I've seen and it just makes it for me. He starts as the Angel of Music, big and impassioned.Then you can hear more of the Phantom, darker and rougher. And then, you hear Erik, who is just so HUMAN. There's just a pure rawness to his voice (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) that I love and makes me hum the score for days after listening to it.
So, is it perfect? Due to the lack of a encore, a 6 minute speech, and some editing choices, no it isn't. Is it still my favourite recording and definitely worth your times listening to? Yes.
Originally this CD was set to me released in November, and I was disappointed to see it pushed back to February. I assumed they discovered after the performance that they needed more time to edit the audio before releasing it on disc. After listening to it, I can't help but wonder what they edited, if anything. There are several points where there are awkwardly long moments of silence or filler instrumental where all you hear are the actors breathing/sighing/grunting/what have you. I imagine that if I were watching the video of this, there would be something going on - not the case here! I wish they would have taken the time to edit out the few bits that kind of stop the audio performance dead.
Those are just minor annoyances if anything. The deciding factor between making this a 4 and a 5 was the omission of the four Phantoms quartet singing the title song. Now the second disc is absolutely packed, only a few seconds short of the 80-minute capacity of a CD. But at the end of "Down Once More," there are well over FOUR MINUTES of just applause, which could have been edited down with little effort. And in the "Grand Finale" track, although they cut their all-star quartet, they somehow saw fit to leave in close to six minutes worth of Andrew Lloyd Webber making a speech. I'm sorry, but when you're deciding what to omit for a CD release, I don't see how there is even a question between cutting an event-exclusive quartet or ten minutes of applause and speech (things that, again, would be fine on DVD, but not when I'm listening to music!). Luckily they did leave in the Music of the Night sung by the quartet, but the logic behind cutting the first half of this baffles me.
In conclusion, wonderful cast and performance, but not much thought given to adapting the audio for a MUSIC CD release.
When Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1986 one reviewer regarded it as " Masked Balls". Hardly a comment worth going wild about and one that would close a lot of shows within a short time. Thankfully, the public disagreed with the critics and Lloyd- Webber"s play is as timeless now as it was 25 years ago. There are only a few cd's of the score that have been recorded since the days of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. The original cast cd was an exellent performance but due to recording restrictions back then ( mostly the amount of space that could fit a cd/ cassette ) some music was left off of the recording.
The cd that accompanies the 25th year performance includes parts of the score missing from past performances and recordings. A notable inclusion is " I'm here, I'm here, I'm here," when the phantom is taunting the police as they plan his downfall. For me, this is a very welcomed part as it is very thrilling to watch during the live performance. It really ads to the feel that you are a part of the show and not just viewing it. In the US, for years since the 2004 Joel Schumacher film, Raoul's counterpoint line in " Wandering Child" was cut, turning the trio into a duet only. Thankfully it was brought back. There's just something about the three of them singing that adds to the richness of the music that somehow just the duet lacks.
My only quibble is the cd was obviously recorded at the time of the performance instead of in a studio, so there are sound effects through out. I wouldn't let that stop you from purchasing the cd though. Since its a new recording it sounds fresh and crisp. It feels like a brand new show all over again. Not many shows can do that after 25 years. This one can! The booklet includes lengthy notes from both Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh regarding the early days of the show and the success its had over the years. Unlike the original London Cast cd, the booklet is filled with stunningly colorful photos from the production, even the back cover of the case has all three principle leads on it. Try flipping through the photos and reading the liner notes while listening to the album, it will make you feel like you're there.
Lloyd Webber's score is performed by an orchestra and cast of over 200. The end result is a passionate score of mystery, romance, and drama that has captivated audiences the world over for many years. Hopefully it will do so for many more to come. "
For starters - this entire recording literally sounds like someone stuck a portable digital audio recorded into an output off the soundboard, dumped the contents onto two CDs, and called it a day. There is absolutely zero editing between the tracks whatsoever - every last ruffle, groan, and other on-stage artifact makes it onto this recording, for better or for worse. Now, I can partly forgive that, since this was a one-off performance, but certainly they had a dress rehearsal or two that they could have gathered some B-roll from to blend things out into a better overall performance?
My next peeve is one that seems to "haunt" all of the recordings of POTO - the LEVELS. Good heavens, you can barely HEAR what the auctioneer is saying at the beginning of the show without cranking the volume almost all the way to max, and then, by the time you get to The Phantom of the Opera performance, the levels are absolutely pushed to the max. There is zero excuse for this, and it clearly shows that again there was no forethought put in to how they were going to deal with the dramatic level differences throughout the show.
Compare this to Cameron's other big recent production, the 25th anniversary recording of Les Miserables, and you will quickly discover exactly how GOOD a production can sound. Levels are consistently bright and spirited throughout the entire show, and you never have to strain or adjust the volume to hear certain parts, while getting blown out on others.
As others have said, it is unforgivable that we get many minutes of pointless applause, which all happened during the curtain calls, and then more of the on and on and on of Lloyd Weber's self-congratulating, while cutting out the only reason to even sit through all that on the Blu-Ray - the Four Phantoms' performances along with Sarah Brightman's. You know... yeah, ok, contractual obligations probably had something to do with this, but you also know what - there was only one chance to get the 25th Anniversary recording right, and, well, you can probably tell by now, but I think they missed the mark by a mile.
Not that I'm all that surprised - the remastering of the OBC was atrocious to say the least, and I am still waiting for a release of the "full" OBC show, which I'm sure will never happen, but, hey, in the spirit of the show, I'll just continue to "haunt" Sir Weber until he sees reason enough to do us fans right.