Friday, January 03, 2014

Music Of The Night

I have never attended a performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Phantom Of The Opera”.

I have listened to the two-disc cast album a few times, and I find the score uninteresting and of low quality. My assumption is that the show has been a gargantuan hit not because of the score but because of the spectacular staging by Harold Prince, recreated all over the world since 1986.

Last year producer Cameron Mackintosh unveiled a simplified staging for the U.K. provinces, recreations of the original staging having become cost-prohibitive in recent years. (In the English-speaking world, the original staging may now be seen only in London and New York—and nowhere else.)

At the end of last year, the new, simplified staging was previewed in the U.S. in Providence, Rhode Island, after which it officially opened here in Minneapolis. Word-of-mouth has been very, very positive; ticket sales have been exceptionally robust.

We talked about going—until, as a refresher, we listened to forty minutes of the cast album, which bored us no end and put “paid” to the notion of attending a live performance. The score of “Phantom Of The Opera” is, simply put, cheap swill. I do not understand how anyone can manage to sit through the thing without screaming.


  1. My sister, whom I visited last week in Decatur, Alabama, has a degree in music and absolutely adores anything written by this "composer." In fact, I was (more or less) obligated once to watch the entire movie version of "Phantom of the Opera" ("POTO") with her and my mother. While I did not scream at any time, I must confess that the showing was a grindingly slow trial for me.

    My sister actually loves the music itself; she was keen during the showing of the movie to explain certain "sophisticated" musical attributes in the score. She was most enthusiastic over the vocal quartet (or, perhaps it was a trio, or a quintet - I honestly wasn't interested in counting the voices, just the minutes) in the last Act.

    Andrew Lloyd-Webber has never penned a single score, phrase, chord, or note, vocal or instrumental, that has ever touched my mind or heart. So I don't have any explanation why the world goes bonkers over such unattractive - no, UGLY - kitsch.

    The popularity of "POTO" is enough to prove in my mind that the world is crazy and without hope.

  2. Yes, I know, "Lloyd Webber," not "Lloyd-Webber."

  3. I never thought of Webber as a “sophisticated” writer of music. He merely recycles some of the more obvious ideas of other (and better) composers.

    I don’t think “Phantom Of The Opera” even represents Webber at his best. Surely “Sunset Boulevard” is a much finer score?

    1. Never heard "Sunset Boulevard." Can Lloyd Webber be called "the hillbilly's Verdi"?

  4. Speaking of hillbillies . . . we just saw hillbilly Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery get thrown out of a game. He cost his team a win at Wisconsin. We’re laughing ourselves silly.

    Try “Sunset Boulevard” sometime. I predict you will be surprised.