The Phantom of the Opera
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin
The Phantom of the Opera represents the pinnacle of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s career. More rock opera than musical, it is the most formally experimental of his works, weaving operatic conventions with synthesisers and electric guitars to create a dark, grungy blend of the traditional and the postmodern. Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name, the story is a loose version of the Beauty and the Beast tale. The phantom haunting the opera is the beast: a disfigured “angel of music” maddened by his deformity. Young dancer Christine Daaé is the beauty he falls in love with and seduces with music.
Lloyd Webber’s 1986 score has several challenging soprano roles, not least for the leading role of Christine. Katie Hall eschews an operatic style for a vocal performance with more popular appeal, but Angela M Caesar’s stunning prima donna, Carlotta Giudicelli, is at once accessible and challenging. John Owen-Jones and Simon Bailey play the love rivals, Phantom and Raoul, and, while they match the vocal talents of the sopranos, their singing roles are not as challenging, particularly considering that the Phantom’s voiceovers are prerecorded.
Laurence Connor’s production is full of special effects – exploding chandeliers and dissolving sets and mirrors – although, on opening night, the timing wasn’t quite perfect and the stage mechanics hadn’t been transformed into seamless stage magic. That said, Paul Brown’s epic set immerses the audience fully in each scene, particularly in the Phantom’s Gothic lair.
With its fairy-tale structure and cultural ubiquity, the plot resolution is thoroughly predictable, but this production, overseen by its original producer, Cameron Mackintosh, more than justifies its reign as the longest-running musical on Broadway.
Until August 4thThis article was edited on July 13th, 2012 and again on July 16th to amend errors