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The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall Blu-ray - Highly Recommended



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#1 of 19 Kevin EK

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Posted February 12 2012 - 06:49 PM

The Phantom of the Opera gets a great showcase on Blu-ray with this performance at the Royal Albert Hall last October, in honor of its 25th anniversary.   Like last year’s Blu-ray of Les Miserables, this production includes a solid cast, including two leads who are well-versed in the production.  Unlike Les Miserables, this one is presented not as a stationary concert but as a nearly full-scale staging of the musical.  Picture and sound quality are superlative, to the point that the digital backdrops show their pixels.   A 25 minute encore is alone worth the price of the disc and is not to be missed.  This is an easy one to recommend for purchase.


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL


Studio: Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Theatre Company

Performance Held On:  October 2, 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall in London

Length:  2 hrs 40 mins (including a 25 minute encore)

Genre:  Musical/Gothic Romance/Andrew Lloyd Webber


Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, AVC (@ an average 25 mbps)

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 2.4 mbps, oscillating to 3.7 mbps), English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles:   English SDH, Spanish, French


Rating:  Unrated (Suggested Violence, Phantom Makeup)


Release Date:  February 7, 2012


Starring:  Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Barry James, Gareth Snook, Liz Robertson and Wynne Evans, with encore appearances by Sarah Brightman and others


Music by:  Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by:  Charles Hart (Additional Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe

Book by:  Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber

Based on the novel “Le Fantome de l’Opera” by Gaston Leroux

Directed by:  Laurence Connor (from original staging by Harold Prince)

Produced by:  Cameron Mackintosh



Review Rating:    4/5


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biggest hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera, is a glorious throwback to the days of the pantomimes, the 19th Century spectacular entertainments that were to their audiences what a blockbuster movie like Avatar is to us today.  It doesn’t have the greatest dialogue in the world, but the sheer visual and aural sweep of the spectacle and the music is breathtaking.  Without spoiling any details, this is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on the classic story of the title character’s tragic love for an opera soprano.  It’s simply loaded with great music and staging and while it runs over 2 hours, not counting intermission, the time simply flies by.


The production on display on this Blu-ray is a special 25th Anniversary production, presented at the Royal Albert Hall in London last October and transmitted live to movie theaters around the world.  The two lead performers from Webber’s sequel, Love Never Dies (both of whom have years of experience playing the roles both in the sequel and in the original), Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, head up a fine cast here, more than holding their own with the demands of the musical.  The staging itself appears to be an adaptation of the original production, including some very specific business for the actors in various scenes.  The challenge here is that the Royal Albert Hall does not have the extensive wings, flies and offstage area to accommodate all the elaborate set and pyrotechnical needs of the play.  So the backdrops here are digital, and some mechanical effects (the play’s famous chandelier) are limited.  But this is still fairly close to a full staging of the play.  Rather than having the cast stand at microphones downstage (as was done with the anniversary staging of Les Miserables) this production has the cast wearing wraparound microphones as they play the scenes.  Some viewers might be distracted by the microphones or the digital background, and they should be aware of them in advance.  For myself, these are necessary trappings of a stage performance under these circumstances and I quickly forgot about them as the performance went on.


As a special bonus, a 25 minute encore follows the end of the play, with Andrew Lloyd Webber speaking to the crowd, followed by encore performances of two songs.  Sarah Brightman performs the title song with no less than five Phantoms, who then continue to sing the classic song “The Music of the Night”.  One caveat here is that while the original Phantom, Michael Crawford, makes an appearance, he does not sing.  (A little research shows that on the day, he had just completed a

performance in Lloyd Webber’s newest musical, The Wizard of Oz.)


The Phantom of the Opera was released on Blu-ray this past Tuesday.  The Blu-ray edition contains high definition picture and audio of the performances and a pair of special features.

                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   4 ½/5

The Phantom of the Opera is presented in a 1.78:1 1080p AVC encode that practically puts the viewer on the stage in the Royal Albert Hall.  The picture is so detailed that you’ll be able to see the pixellation of the digital backdrop and the smallest details of the makeup applied to Ramin Karimloo. 


AUDIO QUALITY    4/5

The Phantom of the Opera comes in two flavors, both in English.  First, there’s a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that has a pretty strong bass presence in the subwoofer and generates a fairly good effect of being in the Royal Albert Hall during the performance.  There’s also a simpler Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, to which the disc defaults.


SPECIAL FEATURES      2 ½/5

The Phantom of the Opera comes  with a preview for Love Never Dies and a brief but thorough featurette on the 25th Anniversary production that should be a good time for fans of the musical.


Love Never Dies Trailer (1:03, 1080p) – This is a quick preview of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel musical, which will be available for purchase in three months.


Getting Past the Point of No Return (17:40, 1080p) – This featurette covers the staging of the 25th Anniversary production, including interviews with Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess.  The challenges of working in the Royal Albert Hall are addressed, including the need to completely disassemble the chandelier in order to fit it through the stage door.

The performance and the special features are subtitled in English, Spanish and French.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu, broken up into the various scenes of the play. 



IN THE END...

The Phantom of the Opera is real pleasure to watch, particularly in this incarnation, its 25th Anniversary performance at the Royal Albert Hall.   It gets a first class presentation here, including fine high definition picture and sound.  The book of the play may get a little much at times, but I must confess the play still has a power to overwhelm.  My personal highlight is the moment of wordless soprano singing done by Christine at the end of the title song – it still gets me every time.   Viewers who have not seen this play are encouraged to buy the disc.  Fans of the play have certainly already done so.


Kevin Koster

February 12, 2012.


Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:


Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer



#2 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 15 2012 - 07:51 AM

So excited to screen this tonight (assuming UPS is on-time). I haven't seen the whole play acted out since I saw it at the Ahmanson back in 1992-3. My gf and I were saddened to hear that the Vegas show is edited (basically being reduced to just the singing parts from what I can tell). Hopefully this will be moderately successful in sales and will prompt a similar opportunity for Les Mis. My frustration with Les Mis is that my favorites are ever rarely in the same recording together, and the one that does have most of them is the Dream Cast concert which is incomplete and was sung over mics with applause after every song. Some day when I'm a Pro Tools expert I'm going to try and graft Colm Wilkinson onto the Complete Symphonic Recording (and maybe Lea Salonga as Eponine and Ruthie Henshall as Fantine). :D Looking forward to a Phantastic evening!

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#3 of 19 Kevin EK

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Posted February 15 2012 - 08:41 AM

The thing is that they did an Anniversary Concert of Les Miz last year, and it wasn't the full staging - just a stand-up concert with dialogue at the microphones.  I wish they'd do it the way they did Phantom here, but I wish for many things...



#4 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 15 2012 - 08:53 AM

Yeah Kevin I own that. And yes it's in stand-up concert just like the Dream Cast was. And it also wasn't a complete performance (about a half hour cut). And two words: NICK JONAS :td::td: And no, I'm not just "hating". We actually had two twenty-something women who watched it in our living room, and they were like "oh he's not that bad" Then I popped in the Dream Cast with Michael Ball, didn't say a thing, just let them compare and contrast, and they said "oh crap, never mind. He's terrible!" :laugh:

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#5 of 19 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 15 2012 - 09:26 AM

Actually, the Les Miz concert from last year is a complete performance of the show as it stands today. The show was cut down to under 3 hours with intermission to placate union rules about playing after 11:00pm. The last time I saw the show live will be the last time...with cuts and speed-ups that were just as annoying as all get out. Some of the cuts are jarring, especially since I am so used to the near-complete Complete Symphonic Recording with Gary Morris as Valjean.

#6 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 15 2012 - 10:15 AM

Ugh - they couldn't start the show earlier? :D I have to admit, with Colm Wilkinson's performance I'm not a big Gary Morris fan. But between his Valjean and Jonas's Marius, I'll take Morris. One of the reasons I'm excited for this phantom disc is Ramin Karimloo. He kicked a$$ as Enjolras and clearly has great pipes. Looking forward to his turn as the Phantom (though I loved Crawford, I don't hold his Phantom in the same league as I hold Wilkinson's Valjean or Quasts's Javert).

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#7 of 19 PODER

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Posted February 15 2012 - 11:14 AM

So ... leaving LES MIZ and returning to the subject of this forum. Let me start right off my saying I hated the original Broadway production of PHANTOM with a passion, mainly because of Hal Prince's staging. The chandelier falling was laughable ... it came down slower than traffic on 42nd Street during rush hour, and then (as I recall) two stagehands came out and pulled the damn thing onto the stage. The entire cast and crew, not to mention the audience, could have made it out of the theater and over to Bayonne, N.J. before that sucker touched ground. Even worse was the moment when our two Young Lovers were on the roof of the Opera House, warbling away. As they sang, a chunk of the proscenium broke away and went sailing into the Paris night with the Phantom on board, coming to rest just a few feet about the YLs heads ... and they NEVER NOTICED IT!!! A glutton for punishment, I then went to the movie version, which, while a HUGE improvement, did have Gerard Butler as the Block of Wood ... I mean the Phantom. But hope springs eternal, and the Royal Albert Hall version finally captured me to the point where I was crying, clapping, and all but giving the durn thing a Standing O in my living room. No proscenium, so no hunk of concrete floating in the sky. I BRILLIANT solution to the falling chandelier. And a cast to die for. So ... even if, like me, you never thought you'd sit thru another production of PHANTOM without tearing your hair out ... this should change your mind. So what are you waiting for? GO GO GO! Buy this baby ASAP!! I thank you ...

#8 of 19 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 15 2012 - 03:07 PM

Colm Wilkinson's Phantom is not too shabby...he originated the role for the first Canadian production. There's even a cast recording.
Spoiler


#9 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 16 2012 - 05:09 AM

Yeah I actually like Colm Wilkinson's voice in other musicals as well. Check out his version of Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar. Funny thing is that despite loving Crawford as the Phantom, I actually don't like him as much in other roles I've heard (he also did a version of Gethsemane which was too far from the spirit of the original "rock opera"). Both performances I reference are easily locatable on YouTube. Last night got hectic so I couldn't watch this disc, but will give it a spin as soon as I can and post back with comments.

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#10 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 18 2012 - 03:22 PM

Finished Act I, Act II tomorrow hopefully. 1. Love the casting of the main characters. As with most, I grew up with Crawford and Brightman, and I daresay I like Karimloo and Boggess as much. There is more of a difference in Karimloo's voice and portrayal of the Phantom when compared with Crawford, and so far I like his portrayal very much. Crawford will always be first, but I think if I had grown up with Karimloo's performance I'd be just as happy! Boggess is wonderful and so far her is similar to what I remember seeing in 1992 (and what I hear on the OLC CD). One big improvement, I've always been a bit annoyed with Raoul's performance on the CD, and I very much like Fraser's turn on this disc. 2. Love the full staging. Yes there were some compromises made to accommodate the Royal Albert Hall, but this is how a musical should be filmed. With all due respect to the Dream Cast and 25th anniversary recordings of Les Miz, this is how a musical should be shown. I hold out hope that they'll do something similar for Les Miz if this sells well. I know I'll be recommending the purchase to as many people as I can, and will be gifting it to a few people as well. 3. I know a musical changes as the years go by, but it's so refreshing for me to see this after 20 years and to see how much the libretto has changed! Most of the major songs are the same but the in-between banter and some of the lesser known songs have changed. It's like I'm watching it for the first time. So far this has lived up to my expectations. My next step is to try and record the audio from the BD to my iPod. I will definitely buy the CD to support the cause, but I want the whole performance on my iPod. :D

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#11 of 19 Carlo Medina

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Posted February 18 2012 - 04:36 PM

Disregard my statement about ripping the BD to iPod in order to get the entire performance. Apparently the new 2 disc CD is the entire performance! I just bought it and sure enough the running time seems to match (within minutes) of the BD running time. There's probably some in-between silences/applause/etc. cut out but it seems to largely be the whole thing. It's much longer than the OLCR CD.

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#12 of 19 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 06 2013 - 05:42 PM

Wasn't really a fan of Phantom, but I'll see about picking this up anyway. Hopefully, we'll some day see similar for Les Miz... _Man_
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#13 of 19 David_B_K

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Posted January 07 2013 - 01:49 AM

I quite enjoyed this Blu-ray. I've never been a fan of stage musicals or operas translated to film. I prefer a live stage presentation with real singers who are really singing. I would have preferred the traditional staging; but this one was pretty darned close. I do wish Les Miz would be done this way (as Sweeney Todd was back in the 80's).

#14 of 19 Aaron Silverman

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Posted January 07 2013 - 05:35 AM

There's also a Blu of the sequel, Love Never Dies. I'm not too familiar with it (borrowed the cast CD from the library once), but the reviews on Amazon are very good.
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#15 of 19 Ejanss

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Posted January 07 2013 - 07:00 AM

There's also a Blu of the sequel, Love Never Dies. I'm not too familiar with it (borrowed the cast CD from the library once), but the reviews on Amazon are very good.

P2:LND is as good as the first Blu disk as a concert of a musical, but the musical itself, um.... :rolleyes: I'd always had this strange, unnatural curiosity to see a Broadway flop, or at least find out why every attempt at a major musical sequel had either closed over a week or never made it as far as Broadway, and, well, now I know. I remember reading a book on what was wrong with the many retoolings of "Annie Warbucks" and "Bring Back Birdie", and could see many of the same problems springing up here:
Spoiler
It's been a long time since Webber had a Big Blockbuster, and the sequel looked like he was scraping up old gigs.

A glutton for punishment, I then went to the movie version, which, while a HUGE improvement, did have Gerard Butler as the Block of Wood ... I mean the Phantom. But hope springs eternal, and the Royal Albert Hall version finally captured me to the point where I was crying, clapping, and all but giving the durn thing a Standing O in my living room. No proscenium, so no hunk of concrete floating in the sky. I BRILLIANT solution to the falling chandelier. And a cast to die for. So ... even if, like me, you never thought you'd sit thru another production of PHANTOM without tearing your hair out ... this should change your mind..

I'm no loyal Phan-boy, and I've only seen the stage show once on tour, so I can't judge other performers vs. Crawford, but the staging here was spot-on. As for the first-musical disk, it's miles ahead of the misfired big-screen version, which tried to be "moody" by keeping everything in tight, claustrophobic backstages and closeups, but it's made to be put on a large-sized stage in its original form. Haven't seen the Les Mis movie yet, so can't compare that one on real-film-vs.-concert-stage, but the stage Phantom done right scores the winning point here.

#16 of 19 Kevin EK

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Posted January 07 2013 - 07:20 AM

I posted a review for Love Never Dies for HTF - I wasn't much impressed by the musical itself.



#17 of 19 Aaron Silverman

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Posted January 07 2013 - 10:00 AM

I'd always had this strange, unnatural curiosity to see a Broadway flop, or at least find out why every attempt at a major musical sequel had either closed over a week or never made it as far as Broadway, and, well, now I know.

Dude, four words: Dance of the Vampires! I happened to be in NYC, and heard about this new musical based on the old Polanski flick The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me but Your Teeth Are in My Neck, with music by Jim Steinman(!) and starring Michael Crawford and Rene Auberjonois. What could go wrong??? Oy vey. I will always be one of a (very) elite few, um, "privileged" to have witnessed an aging, barely ambulatory Michael Crawford belt out "Total Eclipse of the Heart." They're still trying to develop a pharmaceutical to counteract the effects. . .
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#18 of 19 Kenneth_C

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Posted January 07 2013 - 02:53 PM

I was surprised to see this old thread revitalized, but - having only recently seen the disc in question - here are my 2 cents: I absolutely love this production of PHANTOM. Yes, they made some adjustments to the staging due to the Royal Albert Hall and the stage configuration; but overall, it works wonderfully. (The only time it bothered me was during the song "Phantom of the Opera". As the Phantom leads Christine to his underground lair, they just keep running back and forth across the catwalk, instead of making use of other parts of the stage.) I saw Michael Crawford (with Dale Kristien as Christine) -- lo! these many long years ago. Since memories change & fade, no direct comparisons are really possible, but I think Ramin and Sierra are absolute perfection. Not only do they SING spectacularly, but they ACT amazingly, too. Ramin brings out all the passion, anguish & danger of the Phantom, albeit in a very "youthful" & "sexy" portrayal (which is what Joel Schumacher was going for by casting Gerald Butler in the misguided movie version). [Note to Schumacher: It actually helps if the Phantom can actually sing.] And Sierra makes me understand Christine in a way I never have before. She's no mere puppet, but a woman with her own torments, passions & desire for success; one who needs & uses the Phantom nearly as much as he does her. (Bonus points to Sierra for making me appreciate "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again". I'd previously felt it was something of a throw-away song; Sierra makes it something vital & necessary.) FYI, both Ramin & Sierra were in the original London cast of the sequel LOVE NEVER DIES. Unfortunately, they are not in the filmed version (which uses the Australian cast, for some reason). I have yet to see it -- but I do love hearing Ramin sing the big ballad "Till I Hear You Sing". Back to PHANTOM/Royal Albert Hall: The rest of the cast is terrific, too. The biggest surprise for me was Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta. Carlotta is typically nothing more than a cartoon figure, but Wendy managed to bring some depth to the part. Lastly: I saw a major touring production of PHANTOM last year (with the original Hal Prince staging, etc.). Though well-sung, the whole thing struck me as fairly tired & staid. Seeing this disc, however, shows that there's life in the old girl yet. For any PHANTOM fans -- or anybody with even a casual interest -- this is definitely my preferred version. And now that I'm done talking about it, I think I'll go pop in the Blu-ray. :)

#19 of 19 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted January 07 2013 - 05:46 PM

Hehheh... Blame Carlo for bringing attention back to this here (from the recent discussion about the latest Les Mis film)... ;) :D _Man_
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