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The Phantom of the Opera - Sydney Opera House

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by lilbusgirl (subscribe)
http://3eggsfull.blogspot.com.au/
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Live and breathe Phantom
Phantom of the Opera has been around for so long, you'd think it would be difficult to change it up in a way that people who've seen it before would have a new experience.

So what does a spectacular new production of the Phantom of the Opera mean?

Seth Sklar-Heyn, associate director of this new production fills us in having recently directed the new production of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End in August 2001 and 2020 UK/Ireland tour.

Excited to finally make it to Australian shores playing at such an iconic venue, Seth remarks on the illustrious history of Phantom that many have come to love. "When Cameron Macintosh saw the original production in London approaching its 25th anniversary, he thought it was time for something different. Usually, by this stage there would have been one to three revivals of such a production. What better way to revive a show than with a fresh creative team including Lawrence Connor (2014 Broadway revival of Les Miserables), Scott Ambler (well-known choreographer), Paul Brown (set designs) who had no previous knowledge of the show. With this in mind the new show was aimed to be re-introducing Phantom to new audiences, new Australian audiences."

Seth talks about when the audience sees Phantom on stage at the Sydney Opera House, "It's absolutely one-of-a-kind production, with no replicas of it anywhere in the world. This production first played in the UK and Ireland in 2011 before continuing to the North American tour, where I joined in 2013 and that tour lasted for six and half years before closing early 2020. It closed in 2020 as planned and it was always the hope to bring the show to Australia after a somewhat extended delay, it's wonderful to see that opportunity is here in the remarkable Joan Sutherland Theatre and remarkable building."

"I live and breathe Phantom most days, it seems, it isn't often that I get the opportunity to build a production with a brand new company, especially with a brand new Australian company where the majority are brand new to Phantom of the Opera so lots of fresh material is being brought to the show. And this process has been an exceptional one with the assistance of Opera Australia, we've put together an impressive company of dynamic performers and I'm grateful for crew and management team that have worked tirelessly behind the scenes that have brought the new production to life."

I managed to get a sneak peek ahead of tomorrow's Sydney premiere for Australian audiences. The scene of the Masquerade Ball, Masquerade is the cornerstone of the story of Act II, a year on in the lives of three main characters.



Imagine it's New Year's Eve, entering the masked ball celebrating the re-opening of the Opera House which has gone through 12 months of restoration and re-building works after the Phantom sent the chandelier hurtling down onto the theatre below.

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Masquerade with Blake Bowden (Raoul) and Amy Manford (Christine) (Photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


Featuring the entire company, Masquerade showcases the late Paul Brown's set design of a beautiful, gilded mirror ballroom, the costumes are by the late Maria Björnson who originally designed the production's costumes and sets.

Phantom of the opera, Sydney arts, Sydney, arts and culture, WeekendNotes, reviewer, media call, musicals, Joan Sutherland theatre, theatre, phantom opera, classical music, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Scene from Masquerade Ball (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


Seth reveals that they have worked to maintain what audiences have come to love from her vision of design throughout the production and in scenes of Masquerade where the staging is entirely new. "We have developed re-imagined garments that grow from Maria's sketches, notes and characters thanks to the talented artists at Opera Australia costume shop."

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Elaborate costumes (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


Jill Parker, the associate costume designer, has loved the creativity that exists still after all these years and sheer number of costumes that Phantom requires. Carrying on the work of Maria Björnson she explains that each costume is a principal costume, "many of the costumes are involved and detailed, so it's a challenge to produce costumes of that nature. I like the layers and extravagance… its cleverly constructed with handmade intricacy."

Seth continues to explain how "choreographer Scott Ambler created a whole new choreography and along with director Lawrence, they were keen to explore a darker world for our opera populaire which our company within the opera house in which the story unfolds bringing much of the hard work behind the scenes brought to light. The dancers in the Phantom have a much more integral role, in this version everyone on stage must be able to do everything dancers need to be able to act, and to make it fair singers and actors must be able to dance as well."

Did you know that Phantom is not an opera? Seth divulges "It is a musical set in an opera with a musical narrative which involves a working opera house, it's about the people, the business, the routine, the community of different individuals that encompass all levels of the building. It's a story that heightens the theatrical but is still about real people in the real world which is being portrayed in this version of the show."

With Lawrence's and Cameron's guidance and direction, new ideas were put forward to clarify where the actual story struggle lies especially with the love triangle of high romance which Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote almost 35 years ago.

The next scene that we are privy to is of two of the three characters in that love triangle Christine played by luminous Amy Manford and Raoul played by the dashing Blake Bowden.

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All I ask of you (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


We arrive on the Paris Opera House rooftop after Christine witnesses the death of a stagehand by the Phantom and fears for her own life. Raoul seeks after her and they finally connect through the spine-tingling song 'All I ask of you'. It's worth noting in this introduction the material was approached with a fresh interpretation, new ideas talked through in rehearsal which differ to the original version and built upon. This version also has a full 27-piece orchestra so you're in for a thrilling show.

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27 piece orchestra (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


Seth explains how they bring the characters to the stage to highlight and differentiate the off-stage environment to bring clarity to the story existing within the Opera house. "The key ingredient is the chandelier above you, in the original production of the Phantom, the theatre we inhabit becomes part of the story due to the presence of the chandelier. Here she is newer and more improved." For this media call, we were warned that she was coming down straight on top of us. You have been warned.

Phantom of the opera, Sydney arts, Sydney, arts and culture, WeekendNotes, reviewer, media call, musicals, Joan Sutherland theatre, theatre, phantom opera, classical music, Andrew Lloyd Webber
Becoming apart of the story with the chandelier (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)


In this production, Seth explains that they show that Phantom has more humanity and dimension giving him more heart. "This production unfolds with Christine based on what her character chooses, what she's intrigued by, it's been the woman who saves the man in this story, by bringing something out in Phantom that's not easily apparent to other people and not to himself."

Phantom and Christine (photo courtesy ELLEN HIRD)

Seth concludes "People are scared of change when it comes to long running productions and yet once they see it, they don't see how special it is to see it through a new pair of lens. We want the material that comes through to be different from when it was first created in the 1980s, with a production that is from today and not from the past. They may question it at first, slowly but surely people have been coming around seeing the production in a different way which was the whole concept of this new production."

The verdict awaits til tomorrow.

The Phantom of the Opera runs at the Sydney Opera House until October 16.

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Why? It’s absolutely one-of-a-kind production playing for the first time at Sydney Opera House
When: The Phantom of the Opera runs at the Sydney Opera House until October 16
Where: Sydney Opera House
Cost: Standard tickets from $99 $8.50 booking fee
Your Comment
I loved Opera Australia's production of The Phantom of the Opera, performed in The Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House.

I had seen it in Melbourne and in Sydney but this one was outstanding.

Had the best (single) seat in the House for a mid- week matinee performance..

Thank you to the cast for entertaining a FULL HOUSE.
by Gloria (score: 2|545) 20 days ago
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