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The Phantom of the Opera
Album Cover Art
2004 Regular
2004 Special
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Co-Produced by:
Andrew Lloyd Webber

Conducted by:
Simon Lee

Orchestrated by:
David Cullen

Co-Produced by:
Nigel Wright

Performed by:
Gerard Butler
Emmy Rossum
Patrick Wilson
Margaret Preece
Simon Callow
Ciaran Hinds
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Sony Classical
(Regular and Special)
(November 23rd, 2004)
Availability Icon
Both albums are regular U.S. releases. The 2-CD special edition was not "limited," as advertised by some retailers.
The original 1987 production won several Tony Awards. The 2004 film was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the song "Learn to Be Lonely."
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the "special edition" album only to appreciate a few minutes of interesting new score material by Andrew Lloyd Webber for this otherwise butchered adaptation.

Avoid it... if you have any love whatsoever for the original, famed 1986 cast recording and don't wish to hear this magnificent composition inexplicably and excruciatingly crucified by questionable alterations and absolutely hideous vocals.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 12/10/04, REVISED 9/14/11
The Phantom of the Opera: (Andrew Lloyd Webber) You cannot underestimate the religious following created in the late 1980's by The Phantom of the Opera unless you were there to soak it in for yourself. Andrew Lloyd Webber had already proven himself as the leading contemporary master of musical composition, and as an immediate blockbuster hit in 1987, The Phantom of the Opera was launched to a perpetual stage presence in London and Broadway, along with hundreds of venues across the world, well into the 2000's. The album of the original cast recording was one of the last widespread and successful LP releases, and the LP and CD together represented the first musical to enter the charts at a resounding #1 position. With over 24 million album sales of that recording since, it's safe to say that Webber's The Phantom of the Opera is a cult, a religion, and quite possibly one of the greatest compositions in the history of the musical and opera genres. Sweeping multitudes of Tony awards, the original show was a perfect storm, a mesmerizing cross section of classical, opera, and rock genres performed by one of the most talented and well-balanced casts of all time. While much press was given to the marriage and divorce of lead actress Sarah Brightman to Webber, the lasting dynasty of The Phantom of the Opera is alone owed to the majesty of lead actor Michael Crawford. The show propelled both actors onto subsequent success in solo albums and other ventures, but it would be Crawford whose enchanting performance as the Phantom continued to draw in new fans to the recording long after other Webber productions had become culturally outdated. Both Cats and The Phantom of the Opera stand leagues above the other outstanding compositions of Webber's career (including Evita and Sunset Boulevard), but Cats suffers with younger generations because of its very outdated musical styles. With that in mind, any listener needs to accept the ultimate triumph of The Phantom of the Opera in its genre, whether you belong to its cult following or are left baffled by its appeal.

By the 2000's, a film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera had been coming down the pipes for over a decade, with Webber first insisting on a film version just a few years after the play's opening on stage. When production first began in the early 1990's, both Crawford and Brightman, among other original performers, were set to reprise their roles in the project. A whole slew of hindering factors, however, delayed the film's pre-production process, including Webber's divorce from Brightman, and, more substantially, the fact that the rights for the film became hopelessly tied up with Warner Brothers and Webber had to literally buy back those rights to his own production in the 2000's to finally force the film. During that time, Webber had shifted his attention to Evita in 1996, producing a very worthy film version of the show by utilizing the strong charisma and very strong vocal talents of Madonna and Antonio Banderas to carry the composition's energy from stage to screen. By the time casting began a second time for The Phantom of the Opera, the ten years that had passed since the film was first conceived presented a problem. Brightman was too old to portray the young rising star, Steve Barton (the original Raoul) had died tragically in 2001, and questions were raised about the ideal age for the actor in the title role. A very vocal campaign to retain Crawford was undertaken by devoted supporters of The Phantom of the Opera, with ads in magazines leading to thousands of signatures and petitions to Webber. The general argument of the Crawford fanatics was (and still is) that the Phantom is a father figure whose older age is not only appropriate, but necessary for the love triangle of the film to be successful. Webber, however, had set his sights on a younger Phantom who could double as a hunk and draw teenagers into the theatres, and after dismissing Crawford, he began a search of younger pop-culture actors who could fit into the role. He had already established 18-year-old actress/singer Emmy Rossum and Tony-nominee Patrick Wilson as Christine and Raoul, respectively, and after a hunt rich with internet rumors, Webber settled upon Scottish actor Gerard Butler as the Phantom.

The choice of Butler for the title role was met with immediate skepticism by dedicated fans and the general public alike, for the actor, known more for his dashing looks than anything else, had no formal training as a vocalist. Both Rossum and Wilson had professionally sung, and despite their coaching through the filming process, it was Butler who would necessitate significant guidance over an entire year to prepare him for the role. As filming commenced, Butler and other principle actors practiced and recorded their vocals in the days before the filming of their scenes, but in the waning days of the project, the process became so hectic that Butler would practice and record only hours before stepping on the set. Even after the principle shooting was finished, many re-recordings and cuts and edits were required to meet Webber's standards, inserting revised performances of stanzas and even shorter snippets to meet approval from the composer. Webber's standards are particularly interesting to note here, because the composer's most public statement involving the film version of The Phantom of the Opera at the time had been that he held extremely high standards for the vocals (as necessary to maintain the superiority of the original stage cast). This is, in short, why so many people were stunned and baffled by the casting choices for the film. The directorial hiring for the project was also suspicious to fans of the show. By inserting flashy director Joel Schumacher into the mix, you ran the risk of creating a production obsessed with visuals rather than one that concentrates rightly on the music. Indeed, the film has a touch of Gothom City from Schumacher's Batman sequels, and the actors chosen to fill those sets are far more pleasant to view than the ones who previously performed those roles. Webber did, though, involve his original co-producer, Nigel Wright, and supervisor/conductor, Simon Lee, in an effort to bring continuity to the screen. Together, they recruited more than 100 top musicians from around Europe, some of whom having previously recorded some variation of The Phantom of the Opera, and recorded their performances in the same Abbey Road Studios as the original ensemble.

The original group of players for the 1986 recording was considerably smaller. Roughly 60 players were involved in that recording, with even less gracing many of the individual productions of the show during their runs across the world. But an important distinction must be made with the original 60 performers and their outstanding product. Their performances were overdubbed to accentuate their size and scope, and the result was a surprisingly crisp orchestral backing that often sounded, quite logically, like all of these extra performers were playing in perfect unison (and of course they were, given that they were often the same performances layered several times). It had always been Webber's wish to give his underscore for The Phantom of the Opera a fuller treatment, and rightfully so, for the score had many outbursts during which the ensemble performs one of the songs' melodies at the height of their own talents. There has been an interest over the years in having only the orchestral elements of the original recording released without the vocals, and the beefing up of those performances in the film version also begs for their own solo release. The wandering focus and inherent format of the film necessitated some new score material by Webber in 2004. Despite the general similarities in nearly every piece, Webber expanded phrases here and there, cut a bit from the middle or end of songs, and inserted new underscore for non-singing sequences. An entirely new theme accompanies the second half of the film; it is one of solace that is introduced when Christine journeys to the cemetery and culminates in a full, lengthy brass statement during the final underground confrontation. New score is provided for a flashback to the Phantom's youth and, as Webber had done with Evita, a short end credits song was provided as certain (though unsuccessful) Oscar bait. Interestingly, these new themes rarely cross over between the realms of score and song. In the end, though, casual listeners of The Phantom of the Opera, the kind who pull it off the shelf once every three years (or haven't pulled it at all since the early 1990's), are not likely to notice any earth-shattering differences between the stage and screen renditions. This is, after all, how Webber wanted it.

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.42 Stars
***** 4,583 5 Stars
**** 1,324 4 Stars
*** 4,339 3 Stars
** 6,687 2 Stars
* 9,416 1 Stars
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Help fund an up and coming composer!
Thomas Gaff - September 9, 2014, at 4:33 a.m.
1 comment  (898 views)
sb2 - December 20, 2011, at 3:21 p.m.
1 comment  (1332 views)
I couldn't disagree more.   Expand >>
Joseph - November 17, 2007, at 12:13 p.m.
2 comments  (3794 views)
Newest: December 11, 2007, at 5:26 a.m. by
Orchestral Elements
Kristen - December 9, 2006, at 4:39 p.m.
1 comment  (2090 views)
Support Gerard Butler as Phantom
Pru - December 9, 2006, at 11:15 a.m.
1 comment  (2000 views)
confirms my theory
phantomlover - November 29, 2006, at 9:36 a.m.
1 comment  (1787 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Regular Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 63:16
• 1. Overture (2:45)
• 2. Think of Me (3:40)
• 3. Angel of Music (2:42)
• 4. The Mirror (Angel of Music) (1:39)
• 5. The Phantom of the Opera (3:34)
• 6. The Music of the Night (5:38)
• 7. Prima Donna (3:28)
• 8. All I Ask of You (4:53)
• 9. All I Ask of You (Reprise) (2:15)
• 10. Masquerade (5:30)
• 11. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (3:42)
• 12. The Point of No Return (8:00)
• 13. Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer (12:43)
• 14. Learn to Be Lonely - performed by Minnie Driver (2:26)
2-CD Special Edition Tracks   ▼Total Time: 120:24

Notes Icon
The inserts of both albums include notes about the music and film from Webber and Schumacher. No lyrics are provided. An interesting (and quite humorous) campaign site lobbying for Michael Crawford to reprise the role of the Phantom contains extensive information about the controversy over the seven years prior to the film's release at
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Phantom of the Opera are Copyright © 2004, Sony Classical (Regular and Special) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/10/04 and last updated 9/14/11.
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