Album: The Phantom of the Opera: Soundtrack
Street Date: November 23, 2004
Length: 63:17
Rating: 4stars
Reviewed by: Renda

The entire story of Phantom of the Opera is about the music, and thus makes this soundtrack so important. I am not going to argue about who made a better Phantom, or the other details of the stage show versus the movie. I am going to critique the soundtrack based on the quality of the music, and not the petty arguments that surround the movie. I do include bits about the story however, because as a soundtrack to a musical it may become hard to follow if you have no idea what is going on.

1. Overture - The album starts with an overture, and with the famous resounding sound of the organ. The Overture does not have any vocals, but is a wonderful introduction to Phantom's music for people who have never heard it before. However, for people who know and love The Phantom of the Opera it puts your mind right back into the mind set of the music.

2. Think Of Me - This is a beautifully delicate song. Emmy Rossum, who plays Christine, does an excellent vocal job, and the lyrics are amazing. If you were to take the lyrics out of the context of the musical and were to have someone like John Mayer sing it this could be the next hit "break-up" song on the top 40 charts. At the end of the song you get to see what an amazing range that Emmy has on her.

3. Angel of Music - The beginning of this song is the Phantom's (Gerard Butler) first appearance on the soundtrack with his haunting "bravo" and echoing "Christine", but the song quickly changes into a girlish exchange between Christine and her friend Meg (Jennifer Ellison). This is the first song where the listener begins to learn a lot of the story. "Father once spoke of an Angel, I used to dream he'd appear." We learn that Christine has been hearing the voice of her "Angel" since her father died. The strings on this song are beautiful and accompany the singing exquisitely.

4. The Mirror (Angel of Music) - Meg has now left, and this is the first exchange we hear between The Phantom and Christine. This song is separated from track three, but is essentially an extension of "Angel of Music". The last bit of the song is The Phantom's beckoning voice calling Christine; this gives way into the powerful well-known introduction of Phantom of the Opera.

5. Phantom of the Opera - The most famous title track to the movie is a strong track driven by a powerful duet between The Phantom and Christine. Of all the songs on the album it is the most modern sounding song, and therefore well received well by people who are fans of the musical as well as the general public.

6. The Music of the Night - This is The Phantom's song begging Christine to join him in the "Music of the Night". This is a very moving song, and the vocal work by Butler is amazing. This is The Phantom's one song on the entire soundtrack by himself. It shows his soft side, and his obvious appreciation for music. The song leads into a spectacular ending with a powerful orchestra.

7. Prima Donna - The vocals for the soprano on this song are not done by the actress who played Carlotta (Minnie Driver), but are done by Margaret Preece. This is one of my least favorite songs on the soundtrack. It introduces Carlotta's character to the soundtrack, but she never reappears again (with brief exceptions) thus creating the question of who the "Prima Donna" is for the person who has not seen the movie or play. It is quite a different sound from the rest of the soundtrack as well, and seems out of place while listening to it. This is not only noticeable musically, as it is the most "operatic" song of the soundtrack, but story-wise as well.

8. All I Ask of You - Raoul (Patrick Wilson) has made a few appearances on the soundtrack before this point, particularly in "Think of Me", but has not been featured on a song before this one. This is a duet between Christine and Raoul, and once again the strings are harmonious with the voices as they proclaim "say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime".

9. All I ask of You (Reprise) - Little did Raoul and Christine know, but the Phantom was listening to their exchange of love. This reprise is haunting in which the Phantom laments Christine's lost love. With the tortuous voices of Raoul and Christine singing to each other in the background, The Phantom powerfully sings out "You will curse the day that you did not do, all that the Phantom asked of you!" With this exclamation the beautiful "All I Ask of You" gives way into the Phantom's woeful signature organ from the title track.

10. Masquerade - Story-wise this is one of the most important tracks on the soundtrack. We learn that the Phantom has not appeared in three months, and that Raoul and Christine are now secretly engaged. It is an upbeat song that includes the entire cast singing about the masquerade ball that the owners of the opera house have thrown. It is a strong song that begins with a happy version "Angel of Music", and leads into a chorus voices singing "Masquerade! Hide your face so that the world will never find you!" With strong hints throughout the song of what is to come for the characters.

11. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - This song is vocally beautiful. Emmy Rossum's voice shines in this track as the music quietly plays in the background until the climax. This song is so overwhelming in its beauty, and lyrically shows that because of The Phantom and her delusion that he is an angel sent from her father from beyond the grave she has not been able to say goodbye.

12. Point of No Return - This is a strong emotional song that begins with The Phantom proclaiming to have reached the Point of No Return, and is answered by Christine's less determined agreement. As the song builds The Phantom breaks into "All I ask of You", which is Christine and Raoul's theme song, thus revealing himself. The song then gives way into a medley of various songs from the rest of the soundtrack, and there is a lot of commotion.

13. Down Once More/Track Down the Murderer - This song begins with a highly emotional decree from The Phantom who seems almost manic in his tone and singing. In the background the people of the opera house proclaim "Track Down This Murderer!" This is the hardest song to get through on the soundtrack if you have not seen the movie or play. As beautiful as it is, it is all over the place and as a casual listener it is hard to understand or take if you do not know what is going on. On top of that this is song is just shy of thirteen minutes. It is a beautiful end of the story, but is the only song on the soundtrack that feels as if you are listening to a musical rather than a collection of songs from a musical.

14. Learn to be Lonely - This is actually sung by Minnie Driver, and so she makes a beautiful contribution to the soundtrack even if she was unable to sing Carlotta's soprano. This is new to the movie and is not from the original play, but it fits right in with the flow of the soundtrack.

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