Lot 666 then – a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained…”
I have been listening to the soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera for as long as I can remember. I made copies of my parents’ CDs, then when I got a computer, I put the discs on my iTunes. I used to listen to the music while I did my homework in high school and while I studied in college. It was soothing (except for the sudden blast of the full orchestra at the beginning of the Overture and the sudden organ at the end of The Music of the Night), and it was perfect background noise. I didn’t realize, however, that while I was studying biology or theories of mass media, I was also memorizing the entire musical.
Now when I play the soundtrack, I can sing along with almost every word. I’ve impressed people by spouting off the words to the Prologue, with even a slight British accent. The only problem is that I’m not an opera singer. Not only can I not sing opera, I really can’t sing at all. So to listen to me attempt to sing the soundtrack, while amusing, is actually not at all appealing.
As obsessed as I am with the music, I have to admit that I’ve only seen the musical once and the movie once, both of which were a long time ago.
Jim has never seen The Phantom of the Opera at all, so for Christmas my parents got him tickets to see it at the Benedum Center in February. I was probably more excited than he was.
It was weird though, to see this musical, whose music I love and know by heart, come to life again on the stage. I vaguely remember the sets from the first time I saw it, and I remember them being spectacular. I was looking forward to seeing everything play out the way I had pictured in my head, but it was all different.
Our seats were on the far side of the theater, so I couldn’t see the whole stage. I saw most of the sets and most of the action, so I wasn’t disappointed, but it could have been better. I was also surprised at first that as I mouthed the words silently, it turned out they weren’t the same as my soundtrack. This was fine, I quickly got over it. Each performance over the years must have its own tweaks and quirks; they can’t all be exactly the same.
I also discovered that my interpretation of the sequence of events in the musical was not entirely accurate. I may have memorized most of the words on a CD but there is much more to the actual plot than what is in the soundtrack version. From listening to the music, I had missed some of the key points to the whole show. I won’t say what those were, for fear of embarrassing myself, but the truth is that the soundtrack doesn’t capture the full story. How could it?
I was completely captivated by the whole performance. It was every word and song and emotion that I have loved and sung all these years, live on stage, in person. Their voices were beautiful (much better than my hopeless renditions), their costumes were exquisite, the dancing was perfect.
Now when I hear my familiar orchestra playing in the background while I write or read, I’ll be able to see the story, the characters, and the true emotions that I saw on that stage.