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The Warsaw Voice » Other » April 2, 2008
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The Polish Phantom: Dash of Panache
April 2, 2008   
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The Polish version of British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's acclaimed musical The Phantom of the Opera opened at Warsaw's Roma Music Theater March 15.

One of the most anxiously anticipated cultural events here in recent years, this production appears to be destined for success. The work's brilliant music, combined with a sentimental plot based on Gaston Leroux's novel of 1911, has attracted international audiences for more than 20 years.

The Polish production fulfills the long-standing dream of Wojciech Kępczyński, the managing and artistic director of the Roma and the director of the show, who has secured "non-replica production" rights from Lloyd Webber. Following months of preparations, the theater has come up with a super-production of the highest caliber. The old-fashioned melodrama has received a new breathtaking dimension at the Roma. The production features a lot of flourish but also precision and attention to detail. The show is modern and well paced, with a dramatic storyline inspired by horror as well as romantic finesse.

The story is set at Opera Garnier in Paris, a building that is a splendid example of neo-Baroque architecture. Stage designer Paweł Dobrzycki recreated the opera's design on stage at the Roma. The design includes monumental 19th-century stairs, the director's gilded office and the opera's underground labyrinth. There is also the legendary box No. 5, reserved for the phantom, and the famous chandelier, which falls down onto the stage in one of the scenes.

One of the production's unquestionable assets is the cast, approved by Webber himself. Damian Aleksander as the Phantom is intriguing and demonic. He was arguably the best singer at the opening show. The audience also applauded Barbara Melzer as the opera's prima donna Carlotta, and Marcin Mroziński in the role of Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. Budding 18-year-old actress Paulina Janczak is convincing as Christine Daae: in addition to her unusual voice timbre and volume, she lends the role natural lightness and girlish charm.

Gorgeous music performed by an orchestra conducted by Maciej Pawłowski, suggestive characters, impressive costumes by Magdalena Tesławska, excellent choreography by Paulina Andrzejewska, and the show's energy and refinement-all this combined to give the Warsaw audience the unmistakable feel of Broadway during the three-hour show.

Marzena Robinson
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