I met up with a friend last October 13(Saturday) at 9:30am in Ministop, Katipunan. We went to CNA in Pedro Gil to buy some stuff. We ate our lunch at Jollibee. Before leaving, she invited me to watch the bonfire with her in Ateneo since it was an open campus at that time. I delightfully said that I would, then we parted ways.
Then, I received a text from one of my Lasallian friends that we had to wear something formal in CCP. It was 12:28 in the afternoon, and I still had class at 1pm for our Tredtwo Community Service. Good thing, I brought just enough cash so I decided to do a last minute shopping in SM Harrison because it was still a two-hour trek from school to home, and home to school. Fortunately, I’ve found this black dress which had a 50% discount! Bought it and went to school for the orientation.
I’ve never actually been to a theater to watch a play before so I felt really excited when my friends and I decided to watch The Phantom of the Opera in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I did not feel any reluctance on whether or not to buy a ticket for the said musical. Good thing, we’ve managed to avail a student discount for the ticket and so it only cost more or less, P1000 for balcony 2. As far as I could remember, it was supposedly P3000. Days before the musical, I was curious why people went crazy about it so I conducted some research on what the musical was all about. I wanted to know more about the plot in order to gain a broader knowledge about it and not get confused and lost when I watch it.
And here was the summary of the synopsis:
“THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is a heart-wrenching story of the mysterious, hideously disfigured Phantom who lives beneath the Paris Opera House, and his obsession with the young singer Christine. Disguised as the “Angel of Music” he devotes himself to creating a new opera star, and winning her love from his rival Raoul, while exercising a reign of terror over the Opera House.” After reading it, the hairs on my arms stood up. It was that thrilling and I was that excited.
On the day of the musical, I arrived thirty minutes past three. I came in late because of our Tredtwo Community Service Orientation held at school which ended at 3 pm and also, because of the taxi driver. He didn’t know where CCP was. He thought that it was somewhere in Anonas. I told him that it was just near Roxas Boulevard. He really didn’t know. I handed him my cellphone to let him study the photo of the map I took from Google Maps. (I also didn’t know how to get to CCP since it was my first time, so I needed that for my reference). And that was when he got it. It was also traffic(bumper to bumper) that I had to pay him P80. It should have only been a ten-minute trek there if it weren’t. And when I was already at the CCP, the guard there asked all of those who came in late to wait until it was 3:48pm. I felt a pang of anger inside me. He wouldn’t let us in because according to him, it was still dark inside. And when he did offer us to go inside, he then asked us to take our seats on the staircase. I asked him why again. This time, I was frantically flaring up inside, and it was apparent on the way I asked him. I guessed he sensed it, though. He reasoned out that it was dark so it was impossible to start squeezing our way in just to find our respective reserved seats. He said that we were going to be arranged during the intermission/ ten-minute break. So, I sat there together with the two girls who were late, too. Since the show ended at 5:15pm, I already missed 36% of the show. It was such a bummer. I paid for that show.
The scene that I was able to caught up with and witnessed was the part when the Phantom was asking Christine to sing for him. Hearing the two of them sing in duet made me shiver that it wiped out my temper. The harmony between the Phantom with a “beautifully grotesque face”, Erik, and Christine’s angelic voice were responsible for the frission I felt. Also, what was before my eyes was a glimpse of pure artistry and creativity. The props, the actors, the costumes, the stage design, the sounds, and the lightning were really defined. What held these elements of performance together were the sense of flow, direction, and arrangement. From the beginning until the end of the show, the only part I found boring was when Christine told Raoul of Erik taking her to the cellars, up on the roof of the Opera. There was a commotion and long argument that was happening and so the conversation between the two was unfathomable and a bit obscure. I felt droopy and almost went asleep. The moment that was strong in the production, however, was the last scene. It was really touching that I felt tears come into my eyes. When Erik was alone with Christine, he lifted his mask a little to kiss her on the forehead, and Christine allowed him to do this. Erik, who admitted that he had never before in his life received or been allowed to give a kiss, not even from his own mother, was overcome with emotion. Christine gave him a kiss back. He let Christine go and told her “Go and marry the boy whenever you wish,” explaining, “I know you love him”. Erik covered himself in a black sheet, and when the girl released the cover, Erik was gone, leaving only his mask on his chair. He put himself into a life of isolation and loneliness. The cause of his death was revealed to be that of a broken heart. Though the Phantom was the villain, I wanted a happy ending for him, an ending that never came.
The art of representing objects in perspective and design of the performance was marvelous. There was a strong connection on the relationship between the audience space, and acting space. The method they used to organize their spacing was perfect. The stage was not too wide nor too small for the casts. A bunch of laughters from the audience on the performance was apparent when the mood was happy, and light. Silence came when the mood was gloomy, and heavy.
Low key lighting was almost used all throughout the performance. This created a dark gloomy atmosphere, which created mystery for the audience and this was reflected on the stage. Spotlight was drawn and focused to every character especially on Erik, who was prevailing dominance, signifying that he was the protagonist, because of the mask he wore which reflected light shining on it, drawing attention to the “masked” side of him, other than his real side. Bright lights were used to signify happy moments especially during their Masquerade party.
The sets and costumes of The Phantom of the Opera made the performance a masterpiece in their own right. The Phantom of the Opera was complemented by many usages of symbolism. The most recognizable symbol of The Phantom of the Opera was the white facemask and full-stemmed rose. The rose was a symbol of beauty and love, and its thorns represented the dangers and pains of love. The rose was also a representation of the Phantom, and when Christine accepted the rose she also accepted the Phantom.
The actors did a superb job of drawing the audience into the world of fantasy of the show. The bodily movements, facial expression, and makeup further emphasized the role that the actors were trying to be. The qualities of their voice were precise and similar to those who had performed the Phantom of the Opera before. Jonathan Roxmouth as the Phantom has received numerous awards and nominations from South Africa’s premier theatre. For his outstanding performance as The Phantom for the show’s South African season, he was awarded Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in the 2012 Fleur Du Cap Awards. Classically trained, Claire graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne in Australia, with a Bachelor of Music Performance.
According to Mr. McFlarane, Claire is the perfect Christine. She has the most exquisite voice which imbues the role with just the right blend of vulnerability, passion and tragedy. She is a beautiful performer.
With the beauty of the music, The Phantom of the Opera was able to connect with the soul in the unique way that only music can. Each song was relatable and appropriate to every scene. The music was the story itself. It was how the themes were used, connected, and juxtaposed against the scenes that gave the music its power. However, when a lot of casts exchanged dialogues, sometimes, their diction and words were unclear when they were singing and talking in unison. Instead of harmony, it became a noise.
The scenes that caught my attention and still remain with me was the Masquerade party because of the exquisite and colorful costumes, the crashing scene of the infamous chandelier, and the scene where Erik set Christine free to go with Raoul. The audience were in awe. They were surprised. They laughed, and cried, and cheered.
Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside the theater so I was not able to take photos of the performance. In order to retain scraps of memories of it, I watched another version of the Phantom of the Opera via internet and compared the two. The two of them were almost exactly alike except for the casts, costumes, and set design. I liked the Manila version because of the wider stage set, though.
Overall, the performance was a masterpiece and I consider it world-class. The only problem that needs to be examined and considered was customer satisfaction. Like what I have mentioned before, there were problems regarding the organization of the seats on the part of the audience who were late. The clerks told us that only the nearest available seat would be provided for the first part. And also the part on which we had to wait for a certain time duration for one to get in. I bought my ticket. I had my seat reserved. Why did I have to sit on the stair case for almost half an hour? Anyhow, if there would be another world tour of the Phantom of the Opera that would take place here in Manila for its 50th anniversary, I would gladly watch it again with my future family. I hope that we wouldn’t be late, though.
After the show, my Atenean friend was calling me now and then. She was looking for me already. I arrived in Katipunan at 7:30 in the evening. I told her to pick me and my sister at Wok Dis Way. She stayed at our place for a little while and off we went inside the Ateneo Campus!
There were a lot of people; they were beaming with pride. They regarded themselves as champions, celebrated their five-peat championship in the league of basketball like one. I understood what they feel. If I were in their shoes, I’d be bursting out with pride myself. I celebrated the night with no hard feelings. Happy that I was out bonding with one of my high school friend. Sadly, we left early and we didn’t get the chance to see the bonfire get lit up nor the fireworks. My curfew was only until 10pm.
What a busy day I had.