For better or worse, Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Gaston Leroux's gothic horror/romance novel has done for stage musicals what Spielberg's Jaws did for fish stories, with worldwide sales of its original cast album approaching 25 million. While director Joel Schumacher's film turns on his typically ambitious visual verve, its new film soundtrack recording has been paradoxically focused in scope, yet beefed up dynamically via the brawny presence of a hundred piece orchestra and The London Boys Choir. This double-disc version showcases all of Phantom's songs, with Gerard Butler imparting a welcome, youthful sensuality to his Phantom, making a fine foil for Emily Rossum's ever-conflicted Christine. Original show orchestrator David Cullen has fashioned compelling new contemporary arrangements to frame Webber's songs–which now conclude with the lilting, upbeat new ballad he wrote for the film, "Learn to Be Lonely," sung by Minnie Driver's Carlotta.
Pit violinist Claudin hopelessly loves rising operatic soprano Christine Dubois (as do baritone Anatole and police inspector Raoul) and secretly aids her career. But Claudin loses both his touch and his job, murders a rascally music publisher in a fit of madness, and has his face etched with acid. Soon, mysterious crimes plague the Paris Opera House, blamed on a legendary "phantom" whom none can find in the mazes and catacombs. But both of Christine's lovers have plans to ferret him out.