Because this music is such an all-consuming joy for me to listen to, this blog post may well continue to be refined and updated for some time to come. Perhaps indefinitely. I hope you enjoy reading along with me as I explore this musical.
Three of my favourite pieces from The Phantom of the Opera (2004) film. Emmy Rossum sings the role of Christine Daae, and Gerard Butler sings the role of the Phantom/Erik.* Jennifer Ellison plays Meg Giry, the first voice we hear in “Angel of Music”.
I prefer the original London Cast’s Michael Crawford as the Phantom, but I do prefer Emmy Rossum as Christine in “Angel of Music” and“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”. At fifteen, her voice gives a sense of vulnerabilty that Sarah Brightman lacks. Brightman seems focused more on technique, less so on emotion, and the end result is a technically near-flawless performance that doesn’t explore much of the character’s feelings.
I do believe Crawford is better in some songs vocally than Gerard Butler (“The Mirror/Angel of Music”, “The Point of No Return”); the resonance and power of his voice is spellbinding, particularly when we hear him for the second time in the show, as he is calling to his protege:
“Insolent boy, this slave of fashion
Basking in your glory!
Ignorant fool, this brave young suitor
Sharing in my triumph!“
Then, in his next lines, the sheer intensity of his passion for Christine resonates, blows my mind and gives me goosebumps.
“Flattering child, you shall know me
See why in shadow I hide…
Look at your face in the mirror
I am there, inside…”
Butler, however, I enjoy better visually in “The Point of No Return”, but at the same time I adore the stage PONR for Erik’s physical reactions to Christine during the song: his hands shaking when she entwines her fingers with his, as though he can barely keep a lid on the raw physical lust burning within him. Rossum I prefer for WYWSHA. It really is a mix of emotions for me between those 2 interpretations.**
I really enjoyed the 2004 movie “Final Lair” scene more than the OLC. Emmy Rossum conveys more emotion than perfect technique (she flubbed/wavered on a note during “Think of Me”), whilst Sarah Brightman is more technically exacting, but less emotive. Compared to Rossum, Brightman sounds like a robot. Michael Crawford is far superior to Gerry Butler in terms of vocal talent and presence.
The 2004 did make me cry right at the end when Christine returns the ring (so did the live show), but I really had gotten pulled into the story by then.
Comparison of Two Versions
Here are Crawford and Rossum spliced together, singing “The Point of No Return”. The only problem with this is that they were unable to completely get rid of Sarah Brightman’s voice and replace it with Emmy Rossum’s during the final duet, which is understandable given technological limitations. Other than that, a fine recording!
Butler’s Phantom is, at times, more visceral and sexier, but remember that Leroux’s Phantom is meant to be older, much older than Butler’s portrayal, and in that, the film erred mightily. The stage portrayal of “The Point of No Return” offers a much more understated impression of the emotions the Phantom and Christine are feeling: fear, revulsion, longing, lust, trepidation, fascination. You can see it in the way Christine touches the Phantom’s hands as she stands behind him, and he trembles. In the 2004 film, it seems to be about just a few simple, primitive things…
And let’s not forget Butler’s very obvious erection, when Erik and Christine step up on to the catwalk onstage and Erik whips aside his cloak at 5:06.
Has Lloyd Webber forgotten that the Phantom’s voice is what he was all about, that physical attractiveness was never, ever necessary to draw Christine to him? His ugliness was the point of the story, for God’s sake!!!!! His voice is what drew her to him.
I haven’t studied vocal performance formally, but I’ve been playing the piano since I was five. Therefore, I have a modest knowledge of music. The one thing Andrew Lloyd Webber did correctly for this film was to insist that the actors
except for Minnie Driver do their own singing. The rest, I have to complain about:
-the budget was way too small (not enough for two chandeliers, and we all know he has enough money to afford it!)
-he wrote a sequel, god help us, that I will not name. (Though, as of April 2012…I am becoming curious about the upcoming Australian DVD release).
* In the 2004 film, the title character is referred to only as “The Phantom”, never “Erik” (as he is in Leroux, Kay, and various other film versions: Lon Chaney, Sr., Charles Dance, Robert Englund, to name a few). The other film versions I’ve seen would be better served in their own blog post, which I may do at some point.
** I have seen the Las Vegas production twice now, and was greatly impressed by Anthony Crivello’s performance. However, there are aspects of the show that I didn’t like as much. That will likely be another installment in this series of posts, if I can remember what my thoughts were.
Phantom of the Opera Glossary
TOM: “Think of Me”
AOM: “Angel of Music”
WYWSHA: “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”
PONR: “The Point of No Return”
And now, for something completely…the same!