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The Phantom of the Opera

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Many of my friends, whose opinions matter to me, thought that the Phantom was miscast.

He can't sing they said. He looks like he's some character on the cover of a romance novel another opined.

Having watched a clip and heard a sampling of how the Phantom sang, I went to the movie already predisposed to dislike his singing. And I did. In two short phrases near the beginning and in the middle of the movie.

This throughout a 2 hour movie in which the Phantom sings probably most of the time.

In this they were quite faithful to the stage version. A comparison which is inevitable if you have seen it. The stage version that is.

He sang the part of a monster and sounded the part of a broken man. Which is probably what the producers intended. His style was unashamedly pop rock compared to the sweetness and light of the other 2 leads, Patrick Wilson (swoon) and Emmy Rossum (swoon). See! Equal opportunity swooning.

There were parts which were so Hollywood in your face that I felt that they had betrayed the original intent of the opera. Yes, the opera.

No matter how you slice and dice it, The Phantom of the Opera by Lord Andrew is, well, an opera. It's all sung on stage. There are recitatives. There are arias for the leads specifically written for a voice part or person. The entire sweep of emotion (par for the course for most operas) is there. Love, hate, obsession, murder, violence, human frailty, you name it. It's there. So if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it probably is a duck.

They probably just called it a musical for marketing reasons.

In any case, in context, Gerard Butler's voice was appropriate. It certainly wasn't a joy to listen to. It was painful on 2 occasions but on most times he was able to make you feel his agony. And that's the Phantom. A human being who was treated as a monster and became one.

Christine was divine. When she started to sing I could see why Hans had fallen in love. Raoul...what a voice. Coupled with dashing good looks. It was easy and obviously intentionally casting, to like them both.

Minnie Driver was excellent as La Carlotta.

If you went just to listen to them sing, you're missing the point. While it is a musical, and the music undeniably central to the plot, it is one of those rare ones that makes you think about the people behind the characters.

If you allow it, it will tug at your heartstrings and make it soar as well. Like the duet between Raoul and Christine.

If for one second you start looking at this as a string of arias strung together and the rest as an annoyance, then go watch something else.

All in all an evening well spent.

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