A blog raveled in randomness
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ at Her Majesty’s theatre was scarier than I thought, and I think I’m going to have nightmares with haunting lullabies sung by the Phantom himself when I go to sleep tonight. Till now, I can confidently say that I have never seen a staged performance with such texture through lighting and props, which created more depth and dimension on such limited space. The stage was big (I think bigger than the ‘Les Miserables’ at Queens Theatre) but how the grand chandelier flew above the audience or how one of the angels slowly came down from the top frame of the stage was truly frightening and exciting at the same time. ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ had haunting effects that created texture to the setting and naturally the characters, and these effects were not mainly backed by technological equipments but more of the creative setting of the stage. It is hard to explain it in words and I fear that if I delve in too deep with details, the magic will lessen for you.
I did not know the full story of this famous tale, and after watching this magnificent opera, I am torn by how the Phantom (performed by Marcus Lovett) gave up his love and dissappeared without a sound. He is an anti-hero who falls in love with Christine (performed by Anna O’Byrne) and causes chaos at the Opera House. Christine follows the Phantom believing that he is the Angel of Music that her dead father has sent. However she does not love him. Christine loves Raoul (Simon Thomas), so the Phantom threatens peoples at the Opera House in hopes of gaining her love. The Phantom threatens Monsieur Fermin (Barry James) and Monsieur Andre (Gareth Snook), the managers of the Opera House, to let Christine play a leading role. When Carlotta (Lara Martins) gives Christine a mute role, the Phantom taunts her and makes her lose her voice. However the Phantom’s intentions get darker as murder rises…
I need to applaud the creative staff of this production. It was amazing to witness what people can think of with a limited space of performance. During ‘The Mirror/Angle of Music (Reprise)’, the ballerinas are practicing at the far left of the stage under blue light while Catherine hears a strange voice in her dressing room front stage. (The placement of characters and props created a depth-texture that I have mot seen in other staged performances.) Suddenly the Phantom appears in her mirror, which scared the heck out of me. Then the famous music ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ begins with the powerful organ, and as soon as the Phantom and Catherin dissapears under the stage, they reappear on a slanting metal bridge above the stage. The bridge approaches the ground by slanting side to side as if they were walking down in the underground tunnels. Then numerous candles slowly appear from the ground shrouded with thick fog, and the Phantom reappears with Catherine rowing the boat that smoothly slithers across the stage. It was absolutely breath-taking and terrifying for me. While I was thinking of the plot–‘Oh my gosh, what is he going to do to her?!’–I could not help myself but think of how the staff set up the stage to execute this type of performance with so many amazing equipments! Every moment in the opera made me sit at the edge of my seat, but I think I need to wrap up the details with Act I Finale (especially ‘I Gave You My Music’ and ‘Chandelier Crash’). The angel that was part of the beautiful stage frame came down while Catherine and Raoul confessed their love for each other with ‘All I Ask of You’. But when this love quenching confessions were ceased with their leave, the Phantom stealthily walked out from the shadows on the hanging angel, and that scared the heck out of me! He mourns as Catherine kisses another man, and his outrage is later exerted in ‘Chanderlier Crash’. And the grand elegent chandelier actually sweeps across the audience from the ceiling of the theatre to the stage. It is of course safe with wires attached to the chandelier, but it is still an act that I have never seen in an opera before! It was thrilling (in a scary way) to see the chandelier almost crash the screaming characters on stage.
I highly praise the creative staff for the wonderful set up and costumes and the smooth transitions of changing scenes with bulky props. However since the production did deal with a lot of amazing but very big props (such as gates, beds, spiral stairs, etc.), I could not help myself but hear a lot of click-clacking sound during the performances. Even though the curtains covered the process, the sound of detaching objects from stage or moving them were clearly hearable. It sometimes distracted me from the singing performances. The second minor notice I was not satisfied with was the sound balance. I thought the balance between the orchestra and the singers were not perfect and felt as if the voices were muted by the orchestra. The orchestra was good, so I think it had to do more with the technical amplification of the musicians and singers. But other than those minor details during today’s performance, ‘The Phantom of Opera’ was a thrilling performance that I will remember for its uniquely amazing stage; the brilliantly talented performers who did not use small glissandos to hit those very high notes (I was amazed especially by Anna O’Byrne); and those haunting notes from the organ played by the Phantom!
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ website: http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com