The Phantom of the Opera returns to Dubai this week
Tissues at the ready…
The Phantom of the Opera should be on everyone’s bucket list and you’re in luck because the sensational and spellbinding musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber is heading to Dubai this February.
Taking place from Thursday, February 22 to March 10, 2024, the musical returns to Dubai Opera to capture our hearts once again.
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Based on the novel by French journalist and mystery writer Gaston Leroux, the show tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the depths of the Paris Opera House, before becoming enraptured by the talents of a young soprano, Christine. Having lured her in as his protégé, the phantom falls madly in love, then descends into jealous madness upon learning of Christine’s love affair with the opera’s patron, Raoul.
What follows is certainly not an exercise in understatement – with huge operatic numbers, a full corps de ballet, a dramatic unmasking of the disfigured ghost of the opera house and even a famous crashing chandelier, Phantom is as overblown and dramatic as its name might suggest.
The critically acclaimed musical first made its debut in Dubai back in 2019.
Excited? Get your tickets before the show sells out. It will cost you Dhs275 for grand circle silver, Dhs450 for royal circle gold, Dhs650 for royal circle platinum and Dhs850 for VIP. Purchase tickets here.
Meet the Phantom…
Ahead of the much-awaited performance in Dubai, Laura Coughlin from What’s On caught up with the man behind the mask, British-Lebanese actor Nadim Naaman, to find out how he feels about this complex character…
What’s On: You’ve been part of the Phantom family since 2010 – playing both Raoul and the Phantom. What is it about this musical that keeps bringing you back?
Nadim Naaman, aka The Phantom: It is certainly the show that has shaped my career and my life more than any other. The material itself is just exquisite; Phantom is so well structured and composed. I was just 25 years old when this journey with Phantom began, and I’ll turn 39 this year, so it’s been quite the experience – it’s like meeting up with a dear old friend.
WO: How special is it for you that this production is coming to the Middle East?
NN: It was the perfect opportunity for me to play my dream role and connect with my Middle Eastern heritage; representing Lebanon on stage in this region, and working in Dubai again, a city which has been like a second home since childhood (my parents lived here in the ‘70s and ‘80s).
WO: How would you describe the Phantom?
NN: He’s too complex and fragile to be labelled a villain, but there is no defending many of his actions and choices. Ultimately, he is a man who commits many crimes and who emotionally manipulates others to get what he wants. But what makes things interesting is the extent to which his deformity, his backstory and his talent enable the audience to look past the crimes to feel genuine emotion for him. This is the power of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score – we can watch a man do many awful things, but when he sings the final scene of the show, our heart truly breaks for him. Ultimately, the word ‘tragic’ I think is the right one.
WO: Do you remember the first time you performed as the Phantom?
NN: Absolutely! It was a very special night. My main memory of that day was that I spent large chunks of it being nervous. I had been waiting for the opportunity to play this role for many years, and there we were, opening the tour in Saudi Arabia, a country which has never hosted Phantom before. Thankfully, all went smoothly and the audience stood up enthusiastically at the end of the night. I remember bowing and feeling the relief.
WO: What is your favourite part of the show?
NN: The final scene. It is perfectly written and constructed. It’s the three main characters, alone in the Phantom’s Lair, leaving everything on the table. Each character gets to pour their heart and soul out on stage. Combine that with some of the most powerful music scores and you get one of the greatest final scenes ever created for a musical.
WO: Do you prefer singing with a mask on or without it?
NN: It’s definitely easier to sing without it. It’s not just the mask, it’s the fact that under the mask you have a prosthetic glued to your face and a wig, all of it held together very cleverly by magnets. So, it’s fairly bulky. Having said all of that, I wouldn’t change a thing, because it all helps you become the character.
WO: What’s your dream role?
NN: Until recently, I always said The Phantom! I think that I am excited about where playing this role might lead. For over a decade, I played a certain kind of youthful, romantic role fairly consistently, but now it feels like that chapter is behind me and I am at the beginning of a new batch of roles which are older, more complex, troubled characters. If The Phantom marks the beginning of that stage of my career, I would just like to continue exploring roles in that mould. Characters like Javert in Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd or Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady – these spring to mind.
The Phantom of the Opera at Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, Feb 22 to March 10, 2024, Tel: (0)4 440 8888, dubaiopera.com
Words: Tamara Wright and Laura Coughlin
Featured image: Giulia Marangoni | Article images: Elli Poupoulidou