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.
There's pity for the Phantom for all the cruelties and wickedness he experienced from the world just because of his "abhorrent face," which eventually consumed him and transformed him into a beast both inside and out. There's hatred towards him for unfairly making Christine choose an eternity with him in exchange of Raoul's life. There's sympathy for Christine and, at the same time, suspense as she was about to make a grave choice between her life or Raoul's. Then there's a momentary skipping of the heart when Christine kissed the Phantom. Even though I am pretty sure that Christine only made it appear that she "chose" Phantom because she took pity with him and wanted to save Raoul, there is still that hint of wonder that maybe, just maybe, she willingly did so too. (Yes, this song toys with your feelings!) Heartbreak followed when he decided to let her escape with Raoul instead. And when she returned, his expectant face which betrayingly shifted to devastation when he realized that she only went back to return the ring he gave her never fails to make my eyes water.

Another reason why I put this song in a pedestal is because it incorporates the melodies of almost all the other songs--Angel of Music, Music of the Night, Masquerade, Point of No Return, and The Phantom of the Opera. So in a way, it feels like I am choosing all the songs even if I am only actually picking one. (Who am I trying to cheat?)

Aside from the melodies, the words of this song are also very beautifully woven it is almost magical, casting me off into some strange new world where I bear witness to this violent-and-passionate-turned-heart-wrenching-in-the-end scenario. Every line is just so spot-on that there are times when I have to close my eyes listening to it so I can take everything in. Dramatic, I know, but it is how I feel.

Finally, this song wouldn't have been my favorite if not for the acting of the actors who play the parts of the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul. They breathe life into these music and lyrics which turn them into something almost tangible. They put so much of their heart and soul into it that it shatters the image that everything, in fact, is simply an act. You feel with them, cry with them, get all giddy like them. And even to the point of breaking your heart a little, you allow it to happen to you because in the process of being an empathic spectator, they gradually become a part of you.

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