By Aidan Morales
The Phantom of The Opera — the longest-running Broadway show of all time. Premiering over 30 years ago, this absolute masterpiece was an instant hit. With music composed by the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber, best known for Cats (1981) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968), and lyrics written by Charles Hart, Phantom of The Opera was destined to become a hit. In 2004 a movie adaptation was made starring Gerard Butler, which was average, at best. Since then, casts have been modified dozens of times and many different small alterations have been made to the score. In the 25th anniversary edition of the score played at Royal Albert Hall, there were more songs and lines introduced; this added an entire half-hour to the runtime of the soundtrack.
First off I have to establish that I am not a fan of musicals, and that I only enjoya few, however, The Phantom of The Opera absolutely got me into musicals. It’s tone isn’t corny, and it’s songs can be listened to by themselves. The second the Prologue ends you are hit with a glamorous organ riff and bass that embodies the 80s, creating a combination of classical dated sound and the modern (at least then) 80s vibe. Essentially old-school fantasy with 80s guitar riffs. Which is easily a match made in heaven. The story begins and ends in a Parisian opera house, surrounded by mystery and rumours of a masked ghost who makes many demands and writes scripts. The Phantom obsesses over Christine, a chorus girl. As his obsession grows, he encounters competition; Raoul, a Viscount and a childhood sweetheart. This creates a story of romance, murder and the bittersweet feeling of obsession.
Critics claim that the story of The Phantom is getting old and stale, yet it remains the longest running Broadway musical of all time – and the profits to show it. Everyone has different tastes but you cannot deny it’s success. It’s a cult classic and it will remain one, as the 80s sound of this musical can easily be appreciated by the new generation; a generation in love with the sound of the 80s and all things retro. The Phantom of The Opera will continue to show its age, but the fusion of pop and classical music will forever be relevant. All of the critics of The Phantom also fail to realize all of the differences and new aspects that each new Phantom brings. The singing style, the high notes and the tone of their voice changes how you experience the dramatic story. Crawford, the original, is still my favorite however.
I urge the reader to watch the movie or see it live in a theater, or even listen to the soundtrack on Spotify. It is an experience that I cannot properly describe in just an article. As much as I’d love to put the almost heavenly organ riff into ink and paper, it is a masterpiece that you must experience yourself.