Those who have seen Andrew Lloyd Webberʼs glorious and breathtaking movie musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” need to decide quite carefully if the soundtrack of the movie or the music with the original cast of the wonderful Broadway musical should be purchased. Both are equally great.This review, however, discusses the double-disc edition of the soundtrack. One can also purchase a single-disc edition with highlights from the soundtrack. What may be lacking in the double-disc edition is the ability to watch these songs actually being sung. This version of the soundtrack contains photos from the movie, but nothing can compare to watching the film. The double CD is a good addition to the original score because the soundtrack contains dialogue from the movie that is not heard in the Broadway musical.
The first CD has numerous good tracks. In Emmy Rossumʼs (Christineʼs) first solo number, “Think of Me,” she establishes herself as a voice that sounds much more mature than her age while filming, only 17. Rossum does not pull any tricks and proves to the listener that she has been properly trained to reach the range that actress Sarah Brightman achieved in the original recording of the Broadway musical.
In the song “The Phantom of the Opera,” Gerard Butler attempts to replicate the talents of Michael Crawford. Unfortunately, one cannot reasonably compare Butler to Crawford. In most of the Phantomʼs songs, Butler is strained and far less frightening than Crawford. The Phantom is supposed to be a character that one starts to despise, but then grows to love. However, Butler did not achieve this at all.
In the song “Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh/Il Muto,” the piece where we would expect to hear Minnie Driver (La Carlotta) attempt to sing, we instead hear a different woman who makes it difficult to believe that Driver is actually lip-syncing her lyrics.
The first major duet of the movie comes in “All I Ask of You,” a duet between Patrick Wilson as Raoul (who was last seen in HBOʼs “Angels in America”) and Rossum. This duet is strong, beautiful, and wonderful. It is indeed one of the best pieces from the soundtrack. After listening to the first compact disc, one hears the song “Masquerade/Why So Silent.”
This song is meant to be an ensemble piece, and does a grand job of opening the second half of the movie, although it is slightly overdone. In this second disc, we hear some new instrumental songs that Webber has composed for the motion picture such as “The Swordfight.” This is one of the most anticipated scenes because it was never used in the musical. It is well done, though not necessary for the purpose of the movie.
The final song worth listening to is “Learn to Be Lonely.” This song, written to be played over the end credits, is a very touching song that Minnie Driver sings and its lyrics stay with you well after watching the movie.
Altogether, this soundtrack is wonderful, and the dialogue and the instrumental pieces definitely compliment it. If you loved the musical on Broadway, then this soundtrack will make your music collection all the more “Phantastic.” I give it four out of five stars.