Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Night with the Opera Ghost

A week has passed and the Phantom of the Opera is still singing songs in my head. Youtube has been a constant companion these past few days as I repeatedly play tracks of the world-famous musical. Even during moments when I am busy with something, I find myself still humming the tune of "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" or "Point of No Return." Yes. I have the fever. And I am glad that I haven't been relieved of this affliction.

My sister and I were among the crowd who filled CCP during the September 30 matinee show. I reserved our tickets a month early and, not having a definite schedule of exams or requirements yet, chose a Sunday just to be sure that there won't be any last-minute complications. I was looking forward to the show ever since I took hold of those tickets and so it comes as no surprise when I became pretty nervous that very day of the performance. What if the actors don't live up to my expectations? What if the production is far from what I have imagined it to be? I was overthinking again. This could either heighten my admiration for Phantom of the Opera or end it altogether.

We were seated at the fourth row, center, of Balcony 1. We arrived rather early and so we waited for at least 15 more minutes before the audience settled and the lights went down. When I heard the voice of the auctioneer, I knew that an event of a lifetime is indeed transpiring right at that very moment. I tried to calm myself. It's Phantom of the Opera, no big deal, I feigned nonchalance. My nerves began to steady as I sat back and watched, as though I'm committing into memory every detail in case I decided to replay it once more. And then, Overture happened! The chandelier rising, the stage transforming, the organ resounding. I can't even begin to describe it! Let's just say five minutes through the show and I've already got the price I paid. Yes, it was that marvelous!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Phantom of the Opera Journey

It was during my high school sophomore year when I had been introduced to The Phantom of the Opera. My roommate Ate Elisa brought her box of movie CD's and began endorsing each one of her favorites. No, she didn't rent it for money. She simply wanted to make a legion of fans out of us, her roommates. I remember her collection including Finding Nemo, Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Phantom. I wasn't fond of watching movies back then but I was too shy to decline her generous offer of bringing the Phantom CD home for the weekend. Not when she's too enthused. And so I did brought it home with me.

I invited my eldest sister to watch the movie adaptation starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum with me and she gladly accepted. But when she heard the gothic and too-loud-for-her-taste Overture, she made an excuse to attend to something else. I guess my family has always found my music preference as queer. Too melodramatic, they say. (Michael Bublé and Josh Groban top my list, and I regret nothing!) Well, I like to imagine my taste is just too highbrow! :P

Anyway, digression.

I instantly liked "Think of Me," "Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You," just because the melody is pleasing to the ears, and the lyrics heartfelt. But to be honest, I was a bit lost on the story. What I only picked up was that the deformed Phantom haunting the opera house falls in love and becomes obsessed with ballet-dancer-turned-opera-star Christine Daaé. He hides behind his mask and disguises himself as her Angel of Music, but only up to the point when he already trusted her enough to lead her down his lair and expose himself as someone real and vulnerable. Then there's Raoul (impeccable name of Vicomte de Chagny), Christine's childhood sweetheart who apparently is the new patron of the opera house. I bear witness to the love triangle, each guy trying to persuade Christine to choose him over the other. All the other details were a bit of a haze. In fact, after Masquerade, I paused the thing and took a nap! Well, I had no appreciation of such things back then so don't blame me. Although some scenes were quite unforgettable--primarily Raoul's proposal (All I Ask of You) and the Phantom's outcry (Reprise)--I still didn't quite like Ate Elisa's movie pick for me.

Fortunately though, I watched it a second time. That time, I have been more open-minded. I guess growing up expands your horizon and makes you more open to possibilities. So instead of relying on just the melody, I learned to delve deeper into the words. And imagine the treasure I've unlocked. The veil that shrouds the beauty from my eyes has finally been lifted. And it was liberating. Who thought Ate Elisa will eventually succeed in recruiting me in her phan-dom a few years later?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Down Once More

Choosing among all the brilliant songs of The Phantom of the Opera and picking one out to call it my favorite is not as easy as it seems. If the question had been posed some years back, my reply would immediately be "All I Ask of You." Why, with all those romantic lines and sweet melody, who wouldn't be moved? But years have passed and preferences have changed. The musical which was perceived by a younger version of me as only a complicated love triangle between a disfigured musical genius disguised as the Opera Ghost, his muse, and her childhood sweetheart turns out to be more than just that. And in my opinion, nothing else encompasses all the feelings this musical want to evoke better than "Down Once More" sung at the Final Lair scene.

I particularly love this song because it is where everything culminates, the final showdown between the Phantom and Raoul for Christine's love. It is filled with so much passion and intensity that a surge of emotions is inevitable whenever I watch or listen to it.