I should perhaps preface this review with the truth in advertising admittance that I’m not especially a fan of Lloyd Webber’s music, though I will admit this musical does have a couple great tunes in it. Problem is we hear them over and over until they’re wearing The film doesn’t have Sarah Brightman; I’m not a big fan of hers either but I’d gotten used to her singing the Christine role and Rossum doesn’t match her.
The motion picture is said to take some departures from the stage musical but we don’t know what they are because there is no scenario or description in the note booklet. Webber wrote several minutes of new music for the film. The shot of the opera house interior in the booklet doesn’t look anything like the immense Paris Opera. Gerard Butler sounds like he’s overacting as the Phantom – at least over-singing. Webber comments in the notes that the film may have more of an “emotional centre” than the stage musical; perhaps everyone is overacting in the film – I don’t know.
However, it’s easy to see why this was selected for one of the few Sony Music SACD releases. The extroverted, heart-on-sleeve approach is fine for enveloping the listener completely in the sounds of the big scenes with the chorus and orchestra at full blast. The main solo vocalists are solely on the center speaker channel – like the James Taylor multichannel SACDs. The chorus is on the L and R front channels and sometimes spread around the surrounds with the orchestra. I had expected an attempt at a spectacular sound effect for the falling chandelier but there wasn’t any. (Now that would be something for an overhead channel, but nobody’s offering that anymore.) A few selected tracks of the 14 here – such as Masquerade – would be a great demo to play for someone you’re trying to educate about surround sound for music – just not all of them at once please.
Tracks: Overture, Think of Me, Angel of Music, the Mirror, The Phantom of the Opera, The Music of the Night, Prima Donna, All I Ask of You, Reprise of All I Ask of You, Masquerade, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, The Point of No Return, Down Once More/Track Down the Murderer, Learn to Be Lonely.
– John Sunier