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Ratings and reviews for The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)

Ratings and reviews for The Phantom of the Opera (Original 1986 London Cast)
based on 453 rating(s)
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Buy this item from Amazon.com
Price: $19.98 $15.10 (31% off)
Trade In Value: $3.75
Artist(s): Charles Hart
Release Date: 2/6/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 2/6/2001
Binding: Audio CD
Format: Box set, Original recording remastered, Cast Recording
Region Code: 1
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Number of Discs: 2
Studio: Verve
Manufacturer: Verve
Product Group: Music
Edition: Rmst ed.
Genre: Soundtrack
Sales Rank: 293
Description: It's the most successful musical of all time, the best-selling cast album ever-and now it sounds better than ever! The cast album of the original 1986 London production (with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman) has been remastered by none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber; this 2-CD set also includes a new 56-page companion booklet. The Phantom lives!
UPC: 731454392822

Reviews 1 to 10 of 453
Pageof 46
amazon logo A Rich Combination of Power and Passion
When I first heard the music from 'The Phantom of the Opera' 8yrs ago, almost instantly, a surge of emotion and inspiration tingled up my spine and I was in awe of the brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Strouse, and Richard Stilgoe. The composer, Lloyd Webber, has simply out done himself in this album, more so than in any of his other fantastic musicals. Not only did he choose a fascinatingly mysterious story to create his operatic musical, but his music is so powerful and so stirring for the listener, that they become part of the action in the musical. The lyrics, written by Charles Strouse and Richard Stilgoe, are brilliantly descriptive which creates rich imagery for the listeners. With the combination of both Lloyd Webber's compelling music and the lyricists' words, 'The Phantom of the Opera' is infallable. 'The Phantom of the Opera' consists of a number of songs which would appeal to listeners. The title song, "The Phantom of the Opera", involves the two leading characters, the Phantom and Christine, singing of how the former is incessantly in the mind of the latter. As this song contains rock and opera it would appeal to a wider variety of listeners. "The Music of the Night", one of Lloyd Webber's greatest pieces of music, is one of the most descriptive songs I have ever heard. A soft and haunting tune, this song's lyrics evoke fantastic description for listeners, and create a tension yet a resolution; and is in fact rather paradoxical, but amazing to listen to, as it is powerfully beautiful. "All I Ask of You" is one of the few positive songs in the album, which reveals the strong love between the main female character, Christine, and another central character, Raoul. This song has a touch of opera but is more of a 'musical' type song. Once again the lyrics are superb, involving passionate description. "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", is a very stirring song on this album, as it is set in a graveyard. Christine creates a sense of sadness as she sings of how she misses her father, and the listeners are coerced into pitying her situation. Lloyd Webber's music is powerfully emotive and the lyrics are passionate, and thus appeals to the listener's own emotions. "Past the Point of No Return" is another haunting song in this album. When the Phantom sings it, with Christine, he is disguised as another character and he is actually performing to an audience on the stage. This song reveals the situation to the listeners, Christine is past the point of no return, she cannot turn back and must stay with the Phantom all of her life in his dark 'dungeon' below the opera house. The music and the lyrics are both emotive and stirring. The last scene is full of action and resolutions. However, the album leaves the listeners with a mystery, as the Phantom dissapears and leaves nothing but his mask. Yet, the last scene brings my favourite part of music in the whole album, which is when Raoul and the Phantom are singing together; The Phantom: "For either way you choose, you cannot win"; Raoul: "Either way you choose, he has to win." The harmony and the power created when these lines are sung are just outstanding and emotionally stirring. On every other 'Phantom' album I have heard I have not heard it sung nearly as well. Portraying a deformed, violent, obsessive murderer, yet passionate in music and Christine, Michael Crawford had a challenging task ahead of him when he was playing the Phantom. Yet, out of every Phantom I have heard, he is the greatest. Indeed he is not as emotional as Colm Wilkinson (who breathes too much in his portrayal), but he portrays the Phantom graciously and smoothly; Crawford has a massive lung capacity, as he holds onto notes for large amounts of time. The songs in the Phantom do not call for an abrupt and loud voice, as Colm uses in the "Original Canadian Cast" version, but a compellingly soft and smooth voice in which Crawford uses in this album. In fact, I believe Crawford uses fantastic emotions to depict the Phantom, such as when he is singing "I gave you my Music..." at the end of the first disk; the emotions Crawford uses are not over the top, but they are just right, and in my opinion, no one has matched Crawford's unique ability to portray the Phantom yet. Sarah Brightman, out of every other 'Phantom' I have heard, depicts Christine far greater than anyone else. Her voice is very clear and high-pitched and no one else seems to be able to compare. Steve Barton's Raoul is very good, although his voice is not very powerful, he is still very emotive. Overall, "The Phantom of the Opera" 1986 Original London Cast, is by far the greatest album to buy out of all of the other albums. The cast is the best I've heard and the music and the lyrics are awe-inspiring. I have one complaint, though; I would have loved the album to be complete. However, Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius and with his lyricists has immortalised Gaston Leroux's early twentieth century gothic novel.
175 of 194 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Outstanding
I first purchased this cd in 1988, shortly before seeing the show on Broadway. At first, only a couple of songs stood out, but after seeing the amazing production (Michael Crawford's performance was "jaw-dropping") & repeated listenings, I fell in love with the score.

The orchestrations are powerful & many songs really stick with you, especially:

Overture [sounds great cranked up]
Angel Of Music
The Phantom Of The Opera [The Phantom & Christine's great duet]
The Music Of The Night [The Phantom's big song]
All I Ask Of You [Christine & Raoul's duet - though a bit tired]
The Point Of Know Return

Beautiful from beginning to end & MUCH better than the film's soundtrack. Webber's masterpiece!
61 of 74 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo the only review of this overly-reviewed musical you need!
Why 5 stars?
Those of you who are fanatics of this show (and, i admit, i DEFINATELY went through that phase myself at one point) are sitting there going "of COURSE this deserves 5 stars! It is musical genius!" and those of you who hate Phantom and the commercialistic, imported, scenery-heavy era it represents are right now scrolling down; looking for some less enthusiastic reviews to agree with.

Oh yes, I know how your minds work! Bwahahaha.
However, I'm going to be as unbiased as possible in this review to actually aid those of you considering the purchase of this album (a wise decision).

First of all, this is not the best musical ever written. I freely admit that. I don't think there IS such a thing as the "best musical ever written", and if there was, this would most certainly NOT be it. It might be something by Sondheim, but I'm not here to discuss politics.

Why IS this musical so enduring and magical? First of all, we have the lush, operatic score that has been never-quite-duplicated. The actual amount of individual melodies are very few... each character and episode in the story has been given a "lietmotif" (operatic term for those melodies we associate with given people or parts of the plot). The Phantom has his dischordant descending organ notes, Carlotta her opera-diva faux-aria, the Managers their little lilting patter song, Raoul his melodramatic violins, etc. I find this delightful, some will find it merely tiresome.

Now it's time to give credit where credit is due. This album would be less of an achievement if it weren't for the showstopping, onceinalifetime performance of Michael Crawford in the title role. His voice is impeccable and capable of wide ranges of emotion, as fits the Phantom. He rescues more than one slightly banal lyric by infusing it with depth and tragedy. Very few other actors have been able to make the Phantom's seduction of Christine both romantic and incredibly desperate.

Sarah Brightman is very talented but...i hesitate to say this...but sometimes she gets on my nerves. Her vibratto and classicaly-trained meticulous attention to diction merely gets in the way in musical theatre. She is a convincing opera singer but an unconvincing person. Her acting is less than fabulous-- sometimes, her voice sounds detached, as if she didn't know the meaning of the words she's singing, or as if English wasn't her first language.

The rest of the cast is amazing... Carlotta, Firmin, Andre... tutti bravissimi!
Raoul is a convincingly whiny, rich tenor with a nice young voice and audibly blond hair.

All in all, a worth while purchase. You will listen over and over again... the music is at turns seductive, erotic, dark and forgiving, but remains soaring throughout. Whoever orchestrated this rocks. The last few notes of the entire album are so caressing, so uplifting, they seem to absolve both the Phantom and the audience in a melody of absolute mercy.

Obviously, you have to lose yourself a little in this music. Don't try to obsess and believe this is the "Best Musical Ever"- but certainly accept it for what it is: a stunning achievement of Broadway-Meets-Opera.

40 of 53 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo "The best musical ever made."
"The Phantom of the Opera" is simply the best musical ever made. Sure, it has quite a bit of material lifted from Italian opera, but as an opera fan, I can appreciate that, and it enhances the score. No other musical equals this musically...from the complicated harmonies of "Notes" and "Wandering Child" to the vocally stunning "Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night." The lyrics are beautiful, the story simultaneously eerie, mysterious, touching, and deep. The only musical that comes close is Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." Neither Lord Lloyd Webber, Michael Crawford, nor Sarah Brightman have ever equaled their work here. It is a "love it or hate it" musical, definitely, but any lover of romance, mystery and great music will appreciate this show.

The original cast was also probably the greatest musical cast ever put together in one place. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman give the performances of their lifetimes...and ours. They have real, legitimate voices, not those awful Streisand/Minelli belts that cover Broadway today. While both are flawed performers in general, each found their best role in this show.

As for Crawford, he is the definitive Phantom. No one else's dramatic interpretation is anywhere close to his. He did it first, and he did it best. His beautiful tenor voice just takes the material and soars with it...from the eerie "Wandering Child" to the powerful title song to the seductive and incomparable "Music of the Night." Anyone who doesn't weep at the heartbreaking finale ("It's over now, the music of the night...") must have a heart of a stone, or a Broadway critic. Michael Crawford is the Phantom, and that is all there is to it. I have never seen anyone become a role the way he did in this show.

Sarah Brightman is not quite as good, but she is still vocally the best Christine. This material was unmistakably written for her, and her clear, bright, silvery soprano and enormous range makes every note dramatic and perfect. While some say her voice is too thin and weak for opera and pop, her current musical directions, her voice manages to fly above the music here without being overpowered. Since Christine's role does not require much dramatic range, her limited acting skills don't hamper the material, and she manages to make her one solo character song, "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," sufficiently poignant, even though it is musically the weakest song in the show.

The supporting cast is mainly strong, and any weakness here comes more from underwritten roles than lack of skill. Meg is always cast to make Christine sound good, so her voice must be a little weak. Raoul is such a boring, one-dimensional character that no actor, no matter how talented, can do much with the role. That aside, Steve Barton has a rich, gentle, and satisfying baritone that sounds good in his duets with Christine. Rosemary Ashe's Carlotta is actually cast for her own merits in this older CD, not to make Christine look good, as in the current Broadway produciton...she has by far a good enough voice to be a believable opera diva, and she has good comic timing.

I was shocked that Amazon critics, who gave favorable reviews to "Hairspray" and "Annie" of all musicals, felt the need to demean this beautiful show, definitely Lloyd Webber's best effort. Just goes to show how much quality Broadway has lost since the start of shows like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables." Go with the customer reviews and buy the full version, not the highlights. It's worth it. Trust me.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo A Real Tear-Jerker
Yes, this "opera" was a real tear-jerker. As I was sitting there, I felt Andrew Lloyd Webber's music poking me in the eyes with a sharp needle, begging me to cry despite the shallowness of his music. The lyrics, though juvenile and seeming as if they had been written by a seemingly articulate man in a drunken state during a day-long lyric-writing binge, at least tried to move the story or be coherent. Michael Crawford's performance was wonderful, I will admit to liking that. However, Webber finally completely sold out with this sucker. JCS was a wonderful rock opera, and showed the guy had talent. Evita was a bit of a sell-out, but at least its approach to the subject matter was interesting. CATS was sort of a "See? I can write different styles" type score. Starlight Express can get away with its destructiveness towards all things good about theatre by at least being ambitious. However, Phantom of the Opera has had countless movies made out of its story. It has had three or four musicals made to my knowledge, probably far more. He approaches it in a less-than-ambitious way. Webber just completely sold out. Listening to this, I pictured the Sex Pistols doing a commercial with Ricky Martin for Pepsi. POTO is, from an artistic point of view, a complete sell-out. From a musical point of view, it is shallow and poorly constructed, with far too many reprises of THE SAME DAMN SONG OVER AND OVER! Lyrically, it is juvenile. Visually, it is astounding. I don't know why Hal Prince, after his legendary ground-breaking projects with Stephen Sondheim, would stoop this low, but hey - the guy did a good job. I'm not sure what to think of this. For someone knew to theatre, it usually gets them interested, until they are able to move on to better musicals and plays and operas. However, I know far too many people who hate all musicals because of POTO. They see all musicals and operas as simple pieces of crap. But, if that's what floats your boat, it's fine with me.
11 of 40 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Hmmmm.....
This musical is a disgrace to everything Sondheim and other greats had worked toward. There is little to no character development in this "show" and all the music is unoriginal or poorly written, even for Lloyd Webber. Sarah Brightman sounds like Minnie Mouse on speed. This composer who writes every song in C, then transposes it to Db to make it look difficult, needs to stop ruining the musical stage with these "events". And for anyone who has heard anything else he has done, no more needs to be said. Folks, stay away from this phrighteningly awful recording and show.
11 of 39 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Expectations that weren't fulfilled
I can't BELIEVE that THIS is the recording that those who bashed the movie keep asking people to buy! I've never heard a musical being sung with so little emotion and passion. Pretty it is but also detached, boring and bloodless. Even Michael Crawford's fans admit that THIS is not his best, far from it. Why this recording is rated so highly I'll never understand - talk about OVERRATED because it was the first! Sarah Brightman is a mediocre opera-wannabe who can't act to save her life, Michael Crawford was a 100 times better live.... The orchestra lacks fullness, faster tempi (Yes, that's plural) and the conducting is subpar. Buy the Canadian recording or the movie-soundtrack instead. Just because it was the first doesn't mean it's the one and only.
15 of 36 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Boring, flat and uninspiring...
For those of you who enjoy the wonders of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical taste, I emplore you to sit back and marvel at two hours of the slightly tweaked shrill of Sarah Brightman's "voice", battling it out with unconvincing emotion (although it would be a difficult role to play due to the flat libretto). For those who thought musical theatre began with "Cats" look no further, this is certainly a worthwhile buy. Unashamedly 1980's tosh, this travesty, which keeps getting bigger, is now here to be worshiped in matte packaging. Michael Crawford still struggles with some notes and Brightman still manages to mimic a ... rat with the dominant expression of a stunned mongoose. For people who thought this musical was "lush", "beautiful" and "a triumph", you should definitely try broadening your CD collection.
12 of 36 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo All these hysterical devotees really should get out more.
The only thing to say about this soundtrack recording is that everyone who considers it 'the best CD ever', 'the ultimate musical experience' or 'like being transported to the Paris Opera' ought to grow up a bit and take the time listen to some proper opera music (or at least some quality musical theatre). They're all taken in by the immaculate (though desperately artificial) technical quality of the recording with its glossy presentation. And the music? It's very attractive: it's slushy, swooshy and full of loud orchestral passages, high notes and 'dramatic' special effects from the self-indulgently large orchestra, but does it provide anything that's actually moving or indeed interesting? Even the 'discordant' music of the Phantom's creation is extraordinarily tame: compare the Act III Prelude of 'Parsifal'. Some reviewers have commented on the 'inferior' lyrics obstructing Andrew's 'genius' but the lyrics do at least make sense and go some way towards expressing the emotions and characters of the original book, which the music doesn't. Until Lloyd Webber stops wallowing in his fame and fortune and takes the time to listen to someone else's music, have some music theory lessons and think carefully about what he wants people to gain by hearing his work, he should stop corrupting great literature and destroying the public's aesthetic sensibilities. All his devotees should stop admiring a mediocre tunesmith, wake up a bit and listen to some decent music. And if they have to keep listening to this CD set, they ought at least to think carefully about why they like it so much and appreciate the benefits of finding a good orchestrator, agent and production designer. One more thing - don't ever describe anything as 'like being transported to the Paris Opera' unless you've actually been there.
13 of 35 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Simple music, simple lyrics
I see many of you calling the music operatic. Here's a tip: LISTEN TO SOME ACTUAL OPERA FIRST. If you can't, get something that's at least in one of the musical styles of opera (Sweeney Todd is baroque). And then there's the "dischordant" music. In case you haven't noticed, the descending chromatic notes in the intro to "The Phantom Of The Opera" were stolen from a Pink Floyd song. Plus, this isn't dischordant. It's 3-4 chords per song, not counting pitch changes. If you want dissonance and opera, pick up West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, or Passion.\ Although I actually like some of Andrew Lloyd Weber's scores (JCS, CATS, Whistle....Wind), this one struck me as pretentious as juvenile. It was a simple score disguised as a grand and complicated score. Okay, I'll give Michael Crawford his due and tell you that his performance and singing are flawless. However, the Raoul (I gave away my CD to a friend, so I don't have the credits with me right now) lacks passion, and Sarah Brightman sings rather than acts. The lyrics are only good in "Notes".....and I'll also give them Angel Of Music........maybe Music of the Night. "Notes" remains the only exceptional song in the score. I would, however, like to reccomend the scorebook. I've only been playing for about a year and a half, but as long as you play Phantom, the "unwashed masses" (as I call them) will think you're the greatest piano player alive and then start crying because "the music is so beautiful!" ALW reaches an all-time sell-out in this. He abandoned rock, and didn't even do that great a job.
11 of 34 people found this review helpful.

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