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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it. 100% worth it.
The longer a show runs, the more people are going to get protective of their favourite cast/company/performance. This is then amplified the more times that show is then recorded (officially recorded, ha). So that the next time ANOTHER version comes out you wonder, is it worth it? And the bottom line is, sometimes it is and sometimes it's not. So is this one? The short...
Published on March 7, 2012 by Kalliope

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muddy mix
I have probably listened to every iteration of The Phantom of the Opera that has been released in recorded form - Original Broadway Cast, Canadian Cast, Viennese Cast, Japanese Cast, Mexican Cast, OBC "remastered", movie cast, and now this, the 25th Anniversary cast. Out of all of these recorded versions, I do appreciate the full length English language show captured in...
Published on July 9, 2012 by Deckard Trinity


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it. 100% worth it., March 7, 2012
This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
The longer a show runs, the more people are going to get protective of their favourite cast/company/performance. This is then amplified the more times that show is then recorded (officially recorded, ha). So that the next time ANOTHER version comes out you wonder, is it worth it? And the bottom line is, sometimes it is and sometimes it's not. So is this one? The short answer is yes. It is worth it 100%.

Why? 3 reasons: the cast, the orchestra, and the 4 Phantoms (no Sarah sadly, but I'll get to that). So, first orchestra. While this score would probably still sound good with a 10 piece, letting it blast with a 200 piece just sends it through the roof. And while some got irritated by the edition of a few modern sounding instruments (such as an electric guitar) I personally liked it. I think it gave it an edge it has never had before.

Next, the 4 Phantoms. To be completely fair Colm Wilkinson was the only one I personally recognized as a Phantom Past but the four sounded so beautiful together it made me wish I had seen them all. And yes, the CD only features "Music of the Night" and not the duet with Sarah Brightman. Why? I have no idea. But it, and some editing choices are the only bad things to say about this recording.

Lastly, the cast. Even characters beyond the 3 central seem more in dept and more thought out than I've ever seen before (and I've seen the movie and various live productions). I don't mean to short change them in this review but I've probably lost most of you already so I'll just jump to the central 3 after a brief mention that everyone sounds fantastic. First, Hadley Fraser as Raoul. I have to admit, Raoul as a character has always irritated me. I'm not really sure why, but he has...until now. Again, I'm not sure what is it about Hadley's voice and performance but for the first time I actually enjoy Raoul's presence in the story. Plus, Hadley's voice is just so rich and, for lack of a better word, so self assured it makes him perfect as the rich aristocrat. Now, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess. In my opinion, the best pairing of Erik and Christine I've ever seen/heard. Sierra brings a softness and a openness along with her beautiful soprano that just knocks her songs out of the park. It is also the first time a Christine has sounded so equally (yet differently)good with both her Raoul and her Phantom. Which brings me to Ramin. His take on the character is so unique to anything I've seen and it just makes it for me. He starts as the Angel of Music, big and impassioned.Then you can hear more of the Phantom, darker and rougher. And then, you hear Erik, who is just so HUMAN. There's just a pure rawness to his voice (yes, I know that's an oxymoron) that I love and makes me hum the score for days after listening to it.

So, is it perfect? Due to the lack of a encore, a 6 minute speech, and some editing choices, no it isn't. Is it still my favourite recording and definitely worth your times listening to? Yes.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best recording of Phantom by far, February 11, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
First I must fully disclose that I am not an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan but that said, I do think Phantom is a very good work and theatrical piece. I saw the show in London during previews and later in New York when it just opened and both times I was never completely satisfied by the original production however in the theater. Nor did I warm to the original CD recording. Michael Crawford certainly did an admirable job with the part but something just struck me as wrong about his casting. First, his choir-boy voice was just not up to the musical requirements of this part, some of his darker high notes sounding disembodied and in performance I kept having the feeling that they were overdubbed. The current Phantom on this new recording Ramin Karimloo is a highly accomplished singer and sings the part with ease. He also played the Phantom in the sequel Love Never Dies. His performance brings new life to this role and it's nice to hear the score sung beautifully by him. Sarah Brightman was well-suited for the histrionics of Christine's part but I never warmed to her tiny, strained voice. Sierra Boggess is a very accomplished singer who nicely compliments Ramin Karimloo. In addition to the fact that these performances are solid, there's more of the original score on this recording. The live quality of the performance also lends some excitement to the work.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful performance, can't say the same for the editing, February 12, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
When this concert was announced last year I was giddy with excitement - I was a big fan of Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess from Love Never Dies, and I've never been a Sarah Brightman fan, so for them to do a concert with these two in the leads was a dream come true. The performances all around are great. Like I said, Ramin and Sierra are a great pair as the Phantom and Christine, and I thoroughly enjoy hearing Hadley Fraser sing Raoul (as a fan of The Pirate Queen, I've always been eager to hear him in more cast recordings).

Originally this CD was set to me released in November, and I was disappointed to see it pushed back to February. I assumed they discovered after the performance that they needed more time to edit the audio before releasing it on disc. After listening to it, I can't help but wonder what they edited, if anything. There are several points where there are awkwardly long moments of silence or filler instrumental where all you hear are the actors breathing/sighing/grunting/what have you. I imagine that if I were watching the video of this, there would be something going on - not the case here! I wish they would have taken the time to edit out the few bits that kind of stop the audio performance dead.

Those are just minor annoyances if anything. The deciding factor between making this a 4 and a 5 was the omission of the four Phantoms quartet singing the title song. Now the second disc is absolutely packed, only a few seconds short of the 80-minute capacity of a CD. But at the end of "Down Once More," there are well over FOUR MINUTES of just applause, which could have been edited down with little effort. And in the "Grand Finale" track, although they cut their all-star quartet, they somehow saw fit to leave in close to six minutes worth of Andrew Lloyd Webber making a speech. I'm sorry, but when you're deciding what to omit for a CD release, I don't see how there is even a question between cutting an event-exclusive quartet or ten minutes of applause and speech (things that, again, would be fine on DVD, but not when I'm listening to music!). Luckily they did leave in the Music of the Night sung by the quartet, but the logic behind cutting the first half of this baffles me.

In conclusion, wonderful cast and performance, but not much thought given to adapting the audio for a MUSIC CD release.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broadway's Music of the Night for 25 years never ages!, March 14, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
Review from Adam Goldston...

When Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1986 one reviewer regarded it as " Masked Balls". Hardly a comment worth going wild about and one that would close a lot of shows within a short time. Thankfully, the public disagreed with the critics and Lloyd- Webber"s play is as timeless now as it was 25 years ago. There are only a few cd's of the score that have been recorded since the days of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. The original cast cd was an exellent performance but due to recording restrictions back then ( mostly the amount of space that could fit a cd/ cassette ) some music was left off of the recording.

The cd that accompanies the 25th year performance includes parts of the score missing from past performances and recordings. A notable inclusion is " I'm here, I'm here, I'm here," when the phantom is taunting the police as they plan his downfall. For me, this is a very welcomed part as it is very thrilling to watch during the live performance. It really ads to the feel that you are a part of the show and not just viewing it. In the US, for years since the 2004 Joel Schumacher film, Raoul's counterpoint line in " Wandering Child" was cut, turning the trio into a duet only. Thankfully it was brought back. There's just something about the three of them singing that adds to the richness of the music that somehow just the duet lacks.

My only quibble is the cd was obviously recorded at the time of the performance instead of in a studio, so there are sound effects through out. I wouldn't let that stop you from purchasing the cd though. Since its a new recording it sounds fresh and crisp. It feels like a brand new show all over again. Not many shows can do that after 25 years. This one can! The booklet includes lengthy notes from both Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh regarding the early days of the show and the success its had over the years. Unlike the original London Cast cd, the booklet is filled with stunningly colorful photos from the production, even the back cover of the case has all three principle leads on it. Try flipping through the photos and reading the liner notes while listening to the album, it will make you feel like you're there.

Lloyd Webber's score is performed by an orchestra and cast of over 200. The end result is a passionate score of mystery, romance, and drama that has captivated audiences the world over for many years. Hopefully it will do so for many more to come. "
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Big, It's Brassy, and It's Wonderful, March 18, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
Many of the BIG shows get celebrations such as this 25th anniversary production of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and they are well deserved. The similar production of LES MISERABLES remains a popular item among lovers of musical theater. Recording such as this include the excitement and enchantment of audience reaction and that is a true showing of love. The production at Royal Albert Hall (huge though it is) is splendid - semi-staging, lighting, orchestral performance and singing. It just works very very well.

One of the main reasons to purchase this DVd is to actually get to watch Ramin Karimloo weave his spell. Not only is his voice perfect for this role (and for the many other roles he is successfully adding to his repertoire) but hsi stage presence is completely within the concept of the original work. He has the audience spellbound with his acting, his physique, and his glorious sing. Much the same can be said for Sierra Boggess. She adds tremendously to the blending of voices that is so much a part of whether or not this wild tale works.

Not only is this a fine tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber but it is also a tribute to the tenacity of fine musical theater. For all lovers of Webber's output this recording is a must. Grady Harp, March 12
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant!, March 13, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
I'll admit, I went to see the 25th Anniversary broadcast (captured on this CD) with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I was not crazy about "Love Never Dies," and the two leads for the show were the same: Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess.

Well.

Color me converted; both Karimloo and Boggess were absolutely brilliant in the roles, and the entire cast (an ensemble of 130+ performers) was amazing. I was delighted to see Earl Carpenter (my favorite Phantom), albeit in a non-singing role as the auctioneer, captured on the live CD as well; oftentimes this does not happen.

Well-done all the way around, and a must for any Phantom fan.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Muddy mix, July 9, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
I have probably listened to every iteration of The Phantom of the Opera that has been released in recorded form - Original Broadway Cast, Canadian Cast, Viennese Cast, Japanese Cast, Mexican Cast, OBC "remastered", movie cast, and now this, the 25th Anniversary cast. Out of all of these recorded versions, I do appreciate the full length English language show captured in this one, but, as with all of the others, there are definitely "issues".

For starters - this entire recording literally sounds like someone stuck a portable digital audio recorded into an output off the soundboard, dumped the contents onto two CDs, and called it a day. There is absolutely zero editing between the tracks whatsoever - every last ruffle, groan, and other on-stage artifact makes it onto this recording, for better or for worse. Now, I can partly forgive that, since this was a one-off performance, but certainly they had a dress rehearsal or two that they could have gathered some B-roll from to blend things out into a better overall performance?

My next peeve is one that seems to "haunt" all of the recordings of POTO - the LEVELS. Good heavens, you can barely HEAR what the auctioneer is saying at the beginning of the show without cranking the volume almost all the way to max, and then, by the time you get to The Phantom of the Opera performance, the levels are absolutely pushed to the max. There is zero excuse for this, and it clearly shows that again there was no forethought put in to how they were going to deal with the dramatic level differences throughout the show.

Compare this to Cameron's other big recent production, the 25th anniversary recording of Les Miserables, and you will quickly discover exactly how GOOD a production can sound. Levels are consistently bright and spirited throughout the entire show, and you never have to strain or adjust the volume to hear certain parts, while getting blown out on others.

As others have said, it is unforgivable that we get many minutes of pointless applause, which all happened during the curtain calls, and then more of the on and on and on of Lloyd Weber's self-congratulating, while cutting out the only reason to even sit through all that on the Blu-Ray - the Four Phantoms' performances along with Sarah Brightman's. You know... yeah, ok, contractual obligations probably had something to do with this, but you also know what - there was only one chance to get the 25th Anniversary recording right, and, well, you can probably tell by now, but I think they missed the mark by a mile.

Not that I'm all that surprised - the remastering of the OBC was atrocious to say the least, and I am still waiting for a release of the "full" OBC show, which I'm sure will never happen, but, hey, in the spirit of the show, I'll just continue to "haunt" Sir Weber until he sees reason enough to do us fans right.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I do believe it's the best recording yet, February 10, 2012
This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
It's live, and so you get the all-out passionate singing that cannot be captured in a recording studio. You also have the audience applause, so you can decide how you feel about that. I think the quality of the actors makes it all worth it. Christine is amazing as an actress and singer, and this Raoul is not a wimp, which is a marvelous change.I have listened to for three days straight now. I love it. Makes the movie look like a high school project film. And this Phantom makes Gerard Butler sound like a twelve-year-old boy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb performance of the musical ruined by the recording qualify, October 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
Fans of the Phantom would be exceedingly happy with this new 25th anniversary cast recording of the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, taken from the live Albert Hall anniversary concerts. Unlike the venerable West End cast album with Brightman and Crawford, this 2-disc set of the musical presents the complete score with an abbreviated finale. The performances are as good as any, and worthy of the occasion, but the presentation on CD is let down by the poor recording quality.

Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess are superb in the two principal roles. Karimloo's Phantom allows us listeners to hear the character change in his voice. He seduces Christine in the first act but becomes more tortured and obsessed by her as the musical progresses. Sierra Boggess is a superb Christine with such a beautiful soprano voice. I didn't quite feel taken by Hadley Fraser's portrayal of Raoul because it did sound arrogant and not quite committed to Christine in the manner of, for instance, Steve Barton or Michael Ball. The supporting cast is just as good as the principals, especially Wendy Ferguson in her comic portrayal of Carlotta and Gareth Snook and Barry James in the flustered comic roles of the managers.

The sound quality on this CD release is not really up to scratch. It tends to be muddy in passages of dialogue, such as during the Prologue. Also in loud parts I notice that the sound does not spread. In short, the sound is quite boxed-in, and doesn't offer an enveloping, theatrical feel. I notice the same issue with the current release of the West End cast album, because that tends to sound boxy too and not up to the sound of the recent Lloyd Webber cast album remasters. I'm not suggesting that engineers should master this disc with Loudness War techniques, but clarity in recordings can be an issue for listeners like me. Taking the case of the 2010 live UK tour recording of Les Mis that cast album had better sound quality than this. It was punchy in loud passages and there was more spread of sound.

Some people have mentioned that the finale with Brightman and the four Phantoms was cut. I won't dwell on that. Rather, it would have been good if the CD omitted Lord Lloyd-Webber's speech and cut straight to the finale, just like the CD of the Les Mis Albert Hall anniversary concert. Also, it would have been good to have had more cue points on the CD. I mention this for the other Lloyd Webber musicals too. In the case of the Phantom the Hannibal and Il Muto sequences (and also Carlotta's rendition of Think of Me) could have been presented as separate tracks.

In short, this performance of the musical is as superb as ever, only to be ruined by the CD presentation, but at least it satisfies the Phans who would like a complete official English cast album of the musical. Maybe one could consider getting the DVD or Blu-Ray releases as well to obtain an improved sound quality for this performance.

I am not implying that you should avoid this release like the plague. It''s good to have a CD recording of the complete musical as performed on this occasion. I just wish that the engineers had achieved a better sound than what is presented here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, March 3, 2012
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This review is from: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Audio CD)
This CD is great. I love how the whole musical is captured, all of it, the audience, the orchestra, it's like being at the play itself.
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