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!

I watched in awe as events progressed. All thanks to our binoculars, I could still see the expressions on the actors' faces. The costumes are so elaborate and beautiful, especially the Elissa dress! And the way the stage changes into something very different from the previous setting in so short a time is just mind-boggling! The lake is very impressive, capturing the very picture I have imagined! Actually, until now, I am still debating in my mind whether the candles emerged from below the stage or from the side. And the illusion of a tunnel, oh it was perfect! Kudos to all the people behind the wonderful set and costume. Truly world-class! (I do have a penchant in using too many exclamation points. Because, you know, so many feelings!!!)

The stage and the famous chandelier during intermission
Now, let's go to the performance. I must make it clear, though: I am no critic. I simply comment based on my own perception. :P

First off, let me say that I loved Meg Giry! Her curiosity was captured perfectly. And that moment when she sang "He's here! The Phantom of the Opera!" I had goosebumps, as if the presence of an opera ghost gives me the creeps too.

I also liked the quip about Boracay. Monsieur Lefèvre sure knows the soft spot of Filipinos.

Raoul was also amazing! Anthony Downing was just dashing and his rendition of All I Ask of You was reassuring and sweet. It's sad though I didn't get to see his face while singing it because I chose to close my eyes instead. I let the music overcome me and found this method to be very effective. Hihi. Lastly, the way he danced during Masquerade was, uhm, kind of awkward but cute. Hey, he IS Vicomte de Chagny! He can afford not to dance well. :P

Christine as played by Emilie Lyn, on the other hand, really knows her moves. She performed so well especially in Point of No Return. In the Phantom of the Opera scene, I was literally holding my breath while she's reaching all those high notes, seemingly effortless. (Emilie Lyn is an alternate of Claire Lyon who wasn't able to make it to the show that afternoon because she was off sick. If only there's a chance I could also watch Claire perform!)

And then there's Phantom. This performance was totally owned by Jonathan Roxmouth. He was astounding in more reasons than one, and I will gladly elaborate them all even if it means this post becoming TL;DR (too long; didn't read)! >:D

To be honest, I was rooting for something similar to Ramin's performance during the 25th Anniversary show. And so naturally, I was surprised when this Phantom's interpretation was different. It felt like he was more sinister! And because of that, you won't easily sympathize with him. The way he warned the people of the opera during Notes (the surround system was very effective in making him appear omnipresent!), the way he mocked them at Masquerade, and the way he laughed at Raoul in the cemetery (to the point of amusing!)--all of these contributed to make him seem like he's the devil himself! His powerful voice tells you that he's in control. Also during Stranger than I Dreamt It, he chased Christine in an almost animal-like fashion! So you see, he's the character you do not instantly love. He's the character who grows on you.

When he started singing Reprise atop the hanging angel statue, I felt a knot in my stomach. It was so heart-wrenching, especially the sobs. I wasn't the one who denied and betrayed him but I sure felt guilty for judging him immediately. All of a sudden, from Team Raoul, you jump ship and become Team Phantom.

We now go to the Final Lair. Of course there must be a separate paragraph for this. Just because. During the entire scene, my whole body shook, as though I was Christine confronted by the choice between saving Raoul and choosing my own happiness. So when Christine kissed Phantom, I swear I imploded. The emotions I felt were so tangible that my knees suffered with the trembling. (For a moment there, I became worried on how I'll be able to support myself during my standing ovation come curtain call!) The snare drum music gave so much impact in the intensity of the Phantom's dilemma whether letting Christine stay or not, that I didn't move a muscle. The final blow to my heart was delivered when Christine came back. The fidgeting Phantom who perhaps cannot believe his luck that Christine changed her mind was ultimately crushed when she only meant to leave once more. Then the most heartbreaking line was sang--so agonizing yet so full of meaning. "Christine, I love you."

I hate to see it end, but I knew deep in my heart that what I experienced was cathartic. If I had a rose, I would've thrown it their way. If I had a hat, I would remove it and make that gallant bow. But I only had my hands and so I stood up and clapped so hard and so long until my palms turned red and sore from all the applause.

It was a great night. A night of music, magic, and spectacle which is bound to be etched in my heart for all eternity.
My little souvenir

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