Andrew Lloyd Webber
Highlights from The Phantom of the Opera



by Hep Kat USER (121 Reviews)
May 24th, 2006 | 17 replies

Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

In sleep he sang to me,
in dreams he came . . .
That voice which calls to me
and speaks my name . . .
And do I dream again"
For now I find
the Phantom of the Opera
is there -
inside my mind . . .

The sheer concept of brilliance behind those lyrics are one of the theatre’s most tantalizing secrets. Since 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterful take on Gaston Leroux’s legendary novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, known to us as The Phantom of the Opera, has captivated audiences the world over. Blending elements of gothic fiction, horror, romance, mystery, and tragedy, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra seemed to contain all of the necessary ingredients to become a runaway success on the Broadway stage. Ever astute, Lloyd Webber painted a beautiful portrait of anecdotal and musical bliss. And was it successful" To date, the musical The Phantom of the Opera is (currently) the longest running show on the Broadway stage, and the highest grossing entertainment event of all time (lapsing even that of the highest grossing motion picture in history, 1998’s Titanic).

From the fruits of these triumphs, was borne Highlights of the Phantom of the Opera. Originally released on Compact Disc on October 25th, 1990 as a one-disc showcase of the original cast’s greatest efforts, Highlights has held a special place in my heart since my introduction to it as a child. The focus of this review is on the original release of this compilation, not on the later two disc version. Due to this fact, whilst listening to this CD, you have to come to the realization that you’re missing out. Highlights is a compromise by definition. Clocking in at a mere 59 minutes (40 shorter than the dual disc version), Highlights manages to maintain the core elements of the musical’s orchestrations and plot, yet omits most of the scenes that add texture and movement to the overall story. In short: If you’re looking to learn the whole story behind characters Christine Daaé, Raoul Vicomte de Chagny, and of course the Phantom himself, amongst others, then you would be best served by going to see the play itself (or at least purchasing a longer version of this album); however, if you simply wish to immerse yourself in the overall Phantom feel, then you will be well served here.

From the legendary orchestrated “Overture” to the moving “Music of the Night” to the conclusion with “Track Down this Murderer,” Highlights of the Phantom of the Opera is a pure expression of how everything can go right while you’re writing music. While Lloyd Webber’s primary inspiration for his musical came from Ken Hill’s own version (which Lloyd Webber saw at the Theatre Royal Stratford East [London, England] in 1984), the legendary composer’s intellect and unique intuitive vision shine through. I really can’t express in words what pure exhilaration can be derived from this music. As soon as the album begins with the iconic organ-driven Phantom Overture, you can begin to scope the depths to which music can connect with emotion. Emotions of anger, hatred, regret, agony, turmoil, and ultimately death are sharpened into arrow heads that pierce even the most casual of listeners.

The music in general is stunning. A mixture of orchestrations convey theses raw emotions that drive Phantom through its phases. Most of the music is already well-known, having been adopted in “clone” plays, or other entertainment outlets. Perfect synergy keeps the actor’s voices well in line with the music itself. At times, things can appear to get a little too hectic, as the balance between actual singing and something like crazed screaming, tips. At times like these you have to remember that Phantom is, after all, a horror story, and Highlights does contain several of the most horrific scenes. Overall, listening to this CD will take a lot out of you, but in the end, it’s very rewarding experience.

Aside from what you can draw from the music itself, that much (and possibly even more) can be drawn from the lyrics. Charles Hart shows off his incredible talent as a lyricist on Phantom. Take for example the following selections:

The song “Angel of Music” in which the protégé-to-be of the Phantom, young soprano Christine Daaé hears the Phantom’s hypnotic voice calling to her for the first time. She sings:

Father once spoke of an angel . . .
I used to dream he'd appear . . .
Now as I sing, I can sense him . . .
And I know he's here...

On the song “Phantom of the Opera,” the Phantom reveals himself; commanding Christine to sing for him:

Sing once again with me our strange
duet . . .
My power over you grows stronger
yet . . .
And though you turn from me,
to glance behind,
the Phantom of the Opera is there -
inside your mind . . .

The Phantom continues to intoxicate young Christine on “The Music of the Night” singing:

Let the dream begin,
let your darker side give in
to the power of the music that I write -
the power of the music of the night . . .

In the lighthearted “Masquerade” people with connections to the Opera Garnier (which the Phantom terrorizes) sing an elating chorus of:

Masquerade! Paper faces on parade . . .
Masquerade! Hide your face, so the world will
never find you! Masquerade!
Every face a different shade . . .
Masquerade! Look around -there's another
mask behind you!

These are only a small sampling of the lyrical triumphs contained within Highlights. I do not wish to debauch from the overall importance to the plot of Phantom contained in such songs as “Think of Me,” “Prima Donna,” “The Point of No Return,” as well as the others. However, the point of this review is simply to convey to you, the reader, the overall feeling that is The Phantom of the Opera. As I mentioned before, if you wish to go into detail with the plot, you’d do better to actually see the musical on Broadway (I highly recommend this; it’s worth the time).

Again, I must admit that I find it terribly hard to review this, as it’s fully meaning can only be drawn out by experiencing the music itself. Next to the much vaunted Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera is Lloyd Webber’s greatest masterpiece. It is truly an alluring episode that should be known to all who can appreciate that which it has to offer. Highlights is legendary by association. A few repeated listens, and you’ll be able to see why this musical is the most popular entertainment event in the world. I would have to say the only flaw I can find with the one disc version of Highlights from the Phantom of the Opera is its overall longevity. But then again, there’s only so much content you can put on one CD. Either way, I strongly recommend exploring what the Phantom has to offer. If you can keep a somewhat-open mind for a little less than an hour, you may be impressed beyond words. I can tell you that from personal experience.

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user ratings (28)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 24th 2006


I saw the movie, and I didn't think the songs were that impressive, compared to other musicals I've seen. They didn't really grab me for some reason.

May 24th 2006


The songs kind of all sounded the same, and at one point they began to blend together. They were good and all, but they were way to similiar.

May 24th 2006


I did like the song to quoted above though. That was a decent. I also like how you wrote the review almost like an essay. You used parts from the movie to reinforce your points, and explained the meanings of some songs. Excellent. I know your probably a big fan, but try not drool over the artist your reviewing.

May 24th 2006


Have you done "rent" yet?

May 24th 2006


I know it's already done done, but what the hey.

May 24th 2006


I think "Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice" would look a lot better.

May 28th 2006



May 28th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

this was good. "Entr'acte" rules.

Electric City
May 28th 2008


Andrew Lloyd Webber's never done anything good.

Just throwin it out there

May 28th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

hmmm i'm thinking you're wrong. jesus christ superstar is the sh*t and this one has some standouts

Electric City
May 28th 2008


I edit: I've never heard any good Andrew Lloyd Webber. I never got around to Jesus Christ Superstar except for the title song (which I didn't like), and I was jaded to his works after doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat twice (holy fuck of awful shit), having parents blare Cats, and being underwhelmed by Phantom on Broadway and on screen.

June 18th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

The main theme was stolen from Vaughan-Williams

April 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

I just saw this live yesterday. Amazing.

April 24th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

" having parents blare Cats" oh god i pity you. Cats was so horrible

September 2nd 2012


< 3

July 23rd 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

Saw this the other week and it was phenomenal, as expected. Good review by the way

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Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2014


I saw this years ago in NY and bought this exact CD there, the show blew me away especially the sets

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