Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Music of the Night

So I went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera last night. I'd been wanting to see it for a while, mostly because I'm a fan of Webber's musicals, not so much because I hate Joel Schumacher for what he did to the Batman franchise. All in all though, I ended up enjoying it.

It would be hard not to be purely entertained by the experience. The music is, of course, the star of this particular show. While I had grown up listening to the Original London Cast recording with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, but I was able to get past the differences fairly quickly. The strength of Webber's songs, particularily "Music of the Night", "All I Ask Of You" and "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", is that they sound pretty good regardless of who sings them. In this case while I found the Phantom (played by newcomer Gerard Butler) to be somewhat underwhelming, I thought that Emmy Rossum (who is believe it or not the girl from Day After Tomorrow) was excellent as Christine. For one she is a truly gorgeous girl and she can actually sing (she apparently was trained in opera before she decided to become an actress). She is the one thing that I took away from the film as being exceptional. Patrick Wilson is a little bit bland, but perhaps that's what they were looking for as Raoul.

I've heard some complain about the use of electronic instruments in the film, but I try to remind them that they were in the original Webber production. I, for one, can't imagine hearing "The Phantom of the Opera" without the garrish electronic organ of "Duuuuh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh". If anything that's the weakness of the film. For all its oppulence and glamour (and the film does really look gorgeous, don't get me wrong), it doesn't fully embrace the over-the-topness of Webber's music and production. Nothing in Phantom is subtle. I blame Schumacher.

There is one sequence that we were discussing on the way home, the ball sequence around the song "Masquerade." Specifically we all got a kick out of this one character, a male dancer who embelished each dance step with a flourish of hand movements. Funny enough when I remarked to Anton about this guy, he knew exactly what I was talking about because the people he saw the movie with were saying the same thing. It's true scene "stealing" because it isn't about an outstanding performance, but rather a secondary or background character performing in a way that distracts or draws attention away from the main action. Still, we got a kick out of it.

Finally, I just want to say that part of the enjoyment of Phantom is the idea of giving in to that dark side of things, and it's best expressed through the Phantom's singing of "The Music of the Night." I really like the song, but I'm always astounded at the lyrics which really encapsulate so much of what the story is about. It's sounds so sweet, but it's really quite dark.

Night time sharpens
Heightens each sensation
Darkness wakes
And stirs imagination
Silently the senses
Abandon their defenses
Helpless to resist the notes I write
For I compose the music of the night

Slowly, gently
Night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it
Tremulous and tender
Turn your face away
From the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light And listen to the music of the night

Close your eyes
And embelish on your darkest dreams,
Purge all thoughts of the life you knew before,
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you'll live like you've never lived before

Softly, deftly
Music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it
Secretly possess you
Open up your mind
Let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night

Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world,
leave all thoughts of the world you knew before,
let your soul take you where you long to be,
only then can you belong to me.

Floating, falling
Sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me
Savor each sensation
Let the dream begin
Let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night

You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night


At 12:15 a.m., Blogger cait said...

Well, as a total musical theatre nut I feel odd for saying this but . . . I don't really like Andrew Lloyd Weber. I mean, I absolutely adore JC Superstar, and I liked Joseph a lot, but other than that, I really can't say that I care particularly about any of his other projects. They seem so--melodramatic, or something.

At 12:32 a.m., Blogger Anders said...

No you're right. Melodramatic is a perfect descriptor for Phantom.

As enjoyable as I find Webber, for that reason I find Les Mis to be a more satisfying and complex form of modern musical theatre.

At 1:12 p.m., Blogger Ewan said...

Anton's good at spotting those who try and steal the show, after all, it was our ambition in high school productions.

At 9:05 a.m., Blogger i_rabies said...

holy crap!! caitlin do you remember when we went to see Joseph in Humbolt...and the one brother kept sitting next to me and hitting on me before he went down to the stage!! Ha....that was friggen hilarious...I totolly forgot about that...sorry that just came to mind when i read this...what character was he...wasnt he one of the really mean ones...or the comic relief ones???


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