Love Never Dies the continuation of the beloved megahit The Phantom of the Opera had its world premiere just two weeks ago in London. Though it has met mixed reviews, you don’t have to buy tickets to London or wait until November to see it on Broadway to make your own opinions and hear the music.
For the first time in musical history, the original cast recording has been made before the actual release of the play. It is currently available for purchase and is waiting for listeners. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revisiting of the tale and new score prove to be a respectable venture and effort.
Till I Hear you Sing is particularly good. Ramin Karimloo, who plays the Phantom, has a rich, powerful voice that descends to dark lows and very pronounced highs. His lower dynamics are pleasant and his loud, belting moments are powerful, intense and never screechy.
Sierra Boggess, who plays Christine, has a light quality to her voice that completely avoids the shrillness that other previous Christines had during especially high notes. Her rendition of the theme song Love Never Dies was very moving and easy on the ears, though her voice was soaring octaves above the staff. Joseph Millson, who plays Raoul, too, particularly in Why does she love me? develops the character and adds very real emotion into his smooth vocals.
Charlie Manton, who plays Christine and Raoul’s son Gustave, adds a distinct eeriness to the songs. Manton, having not yet reached puberty yet, has a voice fit for an all-boys’ church choir with his high-ceilinged sopranos.
While there are not enough duets between Karimloo and Boggess, the two included are powerful and passionate.
A few tunes and chord progressions, even a few lines, word for word and note for note from the original are recognizable, but Webber wanted completely new tunes.
There are some memorable pieces that capture the rather gloomy mood, the triumphant moments, the drama in lyrics and orchestration and the central themes of the story.
The bottom line is, again, Webber has written some beautiful, haunting melodies, memorable tunes and powerful, resonating songs. After just a few days of owning it, I’ve been humming most of the choruses and re-listening to my favorites. It does pale in comparison to The Phantom of the Opera but Phantom of the Opera is, as Webber admitted, a tough act to follow. Webber has met the challenge bravely and come out on top; it wasn’t a flop as many predicted.
Already, it has placed on the charts in the UK, Taiwan, New Zealand, Greece and Denmark.
A deluxe and a regular version of the recording are available online. Both are two-disc sets, ranging from $20-30. The deluxe offers bonus DVD with interviews and filmed footage, a Coney Island Waltz music video and a 40-page booklet are part of the package.
If you plan on purchasing, however, remember that you will know what happens in the story and the ending will be spoiled completely.
So, come one come all Phantom fans if you’re willing to embrace this continuation of the story. If it helps, think of Love Never Dies as a completely different entity, and don’t expect another classic like the original, in story and score. Of course, upon its premiere, The Phantom of the Opera was met with mixed reviews, too. It wasn’t an instant classic; it took time to develop its die-hard fan base and status as international hit.