There are certain events that Melbourne just really turns it on for, and the premiere of 'The Phantom Of The Opera' is certainly one of them.
There’s no better place to see a musical production than the State Theatre at the Arts Centre – all done up in red and gold and with acoustics to die for and French bubbles fairly bursting from the spigots at the Champagne Points, which appeared occasionally in the foyer.
And what a show! Even those who have seen it time and time again were captivated, as evidenced by the standing ovations.
Based on the book 'Le Fantôme de L’Opéra' by Gaston Leroux, it’s the story of a dark-hearted and tragic ghost haunting a gothic theatre and falling in love with the gorgeous Christine Daaé as played here by the flawless and ethereal soprano Amy Manford. Manford is an expressive actor and moves between inner turmoil and desperate longing, all while singing and dancing.
Josh Piterman takes his portrayal of The Phantom to both physical and vocal heights in the role and Blake Bowden makes a dashing and debonair Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. The tough choice between the dark and the light – between The Phantom and Raoul – is easy to fathom.
Jayde Westaby is excellent as the stern Madame Giry. The entire supporting cast is impeccable and the part of Meg Giry played by Mietta White is an absolute scene-stealer.
Image © Daniel Boud
The stunning sets are innovative and evoke the madness of The Phantom to the nth degree, including and especially in his escape scene and a graveyard moment which has got to be one of the most heart-stoppingly gorgeous vignettes in this production. And of course the chandelier is back for its star turn and the mirrored hall for the masked ball is both majestic and superbly effective.
There are enough plot twists and turns (even while the story is predictable even to a first-time viewer) to amuse and entertain those with only a passing interest in opera. The expert choreography is lively, athletic and colourful.
And seriously, the costumes need a reviewer dedicated solely to their beauty, functionality and construction. It’s hard to overstate how much they add to this production.
Lastly, who doesn’t like an opera with pyrotechnics? No spoilers!
The Phantom is in rude health for his age and 'The Music Of The Night' has never sounded better.