The Phantom of the Opera @ Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur

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I remember reading and studying the simplified version of The Phantom of the Opera back in secondary school (Form 2 if my memory does not fail me). The tale of the mysterious Phantom, a badly-disfigured genius who resides and haunts the Paris Opera House, becomes obsessed with young soprano Christine Daae. Unfortunately, she loves Raoul, the Vicomte De Chagny, and that sets the Phantom on a spiral into the depths of jealousy, madness and despair.

Fun fact: The Phantom of the Opera show is the longest-running show in Broadway history, since its premiere in 1986 at London’s West End.

When I heard that the musical The Phantom of the Opera musical was coming to KL for the first time, I knew it was something I would want to go for! This would also be my first time attending a live musical.

The Location – Istana Budaya
I remember reading and seeing pictures/videos of theaters in movies, but never would I have thought of going to one in real life so soon! Istana Budaya gives out that vibe those theaters you see in old movies. It isn’t modern vibe like the Marina Bay Sands Theater, which may mean that the appreciation of art and culture hasn’t grown much locally, since not much funding has been put to upgrade the existing infrastructure available.

The view from where I sat

The theater was quite warm (the dress code didn’t help either – smart casual – no shorts, no slippers), and insufficient toilet facilities (the ladies line had a massive queue!). The chairs were rather uncomfortable… no back rest for taller people, and a rather cramped leg space. Parking was horrendous too! There are only a few parking spots available inside the compound.

The Phantom of the Opera
Attending the musical was quite an experience. It is definitely a worthwhile experience if you’ve never attended a musical before (like myself). To experience raw emotions and singing from the actors, the excellent music, and to witness the very colorful costumes and props, is something one can never get by watching a movie.

The iconic chandelier

I was quite lost during the first number – Hannibal Rehearsal. I couldn’t really recall how the story started (it has been ages since I last read the Phantom of the Opera). But, I was blown away by the props, colorful costumes and the soprano voice!

One thing I did not expect was the props and sets to be so comprehensive in detail. It really brings one into the world The Phantom of the Opera was set real beautifully. The transitions between scenes were great too. They changed sets without you really noticing them do it.

The only regret was I did not get a more expensive ticket at the lower levels. For one, some parts of the musical was done on the elevated stage (I think), and it was pretty hard to see from the upper circle (third floor). Also, I couldn’t make out certain words that they were saying / singing, probably due to the fact that they were singing towards the front audience, instead to the upper floors.

But overall, it was a great musical and a great experience!

Catch The Phantom of the Opera before they finish off on July 7th.

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5 Responses

  1. I rely on tours. To live in the United States not near NYC means to experience musicals on tour. That is the beauty of them. That is my musical theatre world- the tours.

  2. Yeah. Agree that the pricing is on the high side. The price that one has to pay to experience ‘imported’ art and culture! But then again, recent concerts like Ed Sheeran or BlackPink that were held in Malaysia are priced that way or higher.

  3. I saw this at Istana Budaya recently too! I think it’s generally difficult to catch the lyrics to songs in any opera performance; I was sitting at the bottom close to the stage and I couldn’t understand some parts either. But as you said, it was a great performance. I do wish they could lower prices of the tickets to make it more accessible for more people like they do in the West; a lot of my friends weren’t willing to pay a few hundred just to watch a 2-hour show.

  4. I saw Phantom of the Opera in 2014 on the orchestra level in the 19th row with my mom in May of 2014. We saw it at the gorgeous Peace Center in Greenville.

    I was spellbound by the production and did end up getting choked up. Phantom of the Opera wasn’t my first time seeing a live musical- I was 20 when I saw Phantom of the Opera. I grew up seeing live productions of musicals. So I knew the power of live musicals previously.

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