Friday, April 15, 2011

On A Solitary Friday Evening

What better way to spend the quiet moments than to fill the stillness with lush, romantic music? And what better than this, which recently came into my possession:

When I first read news of the sequel, I wasn't the slightest excited. For one, quite obviously, Sarah's not going to be in it. For another, I generally don't like sequels. I could not, however, dislike Andrew (Lord) Lloyd Webber's music - that is the reason I bought the recording. It is a decision I do not regret, for the music is indeed splendid.

The composition and arrangement of a few of the songs are exceptionally arresting, and very soon I find myself unwittingly drawn and captivated. I have to emphasize that it's the music that I'm infatuated with, because I am definitely not crazy about the lyrics. While most are bearable (though lacking depth), some are downright unworthy of the music they're sung to. I cannot stress enough how I am not musically-trained, yet, this much I know - singing about what one did the night one spent with the one one couldn't openly love simply takes the magic and thrill out of the song.

That is how I feel listening to Beneath A Moonless Sky. Despite the wondrous melody, the lavishness of the orchestration and the very passionate singing, I couldn't help cringing each time the song reaches -

And the world around us fell away.
We said things in the dark
we never dared to say.

And I caught you –

And I kissed you –

And I took you –

And caressed you –

With a need to urgent to deny
And nothing mattered then,
Except for you and I,
Again and then again,
Beneath a moonless sky.

And when it was done,
Before the sun could rise,
Ashamed of what I was,
Afraid to see your eyes,
I stood while you slept,
And whispered a goodbye.
And slipped into the dark
Beneath the moonless sky.

Couldn't ALW have found a lyricist who is able to express all that with a little more elegance? These poorer-than-average lyrics are not the only aspects of this new sequel that I find objectionable.

The musical takes place ten years after the end of the original POTO, where Christine left with Raoul, and the Phantom disappeared. Raoul has gambled away his fortune, and turned into an alcoholic (argh!!!) and the Phantom owns a park, Phantasma. Oh, you can find the full synopsis here, Reader, if you are interested. The unfair destruction of Raoul aside, I find it very disconcerting that the writers made Christine sleep with the Phantom the night before her wedding. It is even more incredible that, assuming she slept with Raoul on her wedding night and every night thereafter, that she could be so sure the son she conceived is the Phantom's. Is it actually possible? Like, without a DNA test? (Not to mention, it's been only 10 years and her son is already 10 years old...)

While I can understand that the lure of the dark, dangerous charm of the horribly disfigured genius (and a musical one too) who is also an obsessive, maniacal murderer, is very irresistible to certain people, it doesn't seem to me that Christine in the original POTO was that profoundly in love with him. In this sequel she implies she was (still is, too!). It doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps I should just tell my brain to give it a rest - do not harp on the (lack of) logic, or the lyrics or anything at all, besides the grandeur, brilliance and sublime of the music.

Love Never Dies, the title track, I first heard as the song The Heart Is Slow To Learn, performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. It is extremely difficult for me to appreciate anyone else's performance of it after having heard the grand Dame, but it is the highlight of the musical nonetheless. I like it fairly well.

I like most of the songs fairly well. Now, I wonder if I should spend the rest of the night with the Angel of Music...

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