The most popular musical of all time is now a major motion picture! That's the headline on the soundtrack to The Phantom Of The Opera on Sony Classical/Really Useful Records. Joel Schumacher's film is, by all accounts, a wonderful cinematic realization of the hit musical. The score is, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom, with the added attraction of a new ballad, "Learn To Be Lonely," written by Webber and lyricist Charles Hart especially for the film version. Oscar nominee Minnie Driver is Carlotta, and performs the new closer. Original stage orchestrator, David Cullen, has reset the music for considerably increased forces, and a new century. The original cast recording of Phantom sold millions of copies. This new film version will rival Liza Minnelli's and Joel Gray's movie version of Cabaret. Webber is joined on this project by longtime collaborators, Nigel Wright and Musical Director Simon Lee. Together they make a "really useful" team. Gerald Butler sings the role, and plays the part of the Phantom. Mr. Butler is a youthful Phantom, fully vested in the power of the "Music Of The Night." He delivers the show-stopper with an intimacy that film alone makes possible. Butler's sensuality and intensity are a clever foil to Emily Rossum's Christine. We saw Emily in Mystic River, and her vocal talent matches her dramatic gift. Christine is gripped with conflict. Her voice is light and graceful, as she communes with the "Angel Of Music" reflected in the mirror. Tony nominee Patrick Wilson is a vocally confident Raoul. The duet with Christine, which is probably the most pop-ready tune from the show, is "All I Ask Of You." The two stars deliver a vibrant and intimate version. The airy power of Wilson's voice floats over the new, denser orchestrations with ease. "Masquerade" displays the brilliance of these enhanced orchestrations. Few Broadway musicals since the MGM days have had the high drama of a hundred piece orchestra and a boys choir. The single CD of The Phantom Of The Opera soundtrack boasts fourteen tracks, including the new additions. Sony Classical also offers a deluxe, two disc package for collectors. The project was recorded at Abbey Road studios, and every element is clean and tight. If you're a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation of Leroux's dark fable, the film version won't disappoint; at least if the excellent soundtrack is an indicator. Film versions of hit shows are a risky thing. The immediacy and intimacy of the stage evaporates on the screen. The Really Useful team takes full advantage of the positive choices available in this recreation to create a really brilliant soundtrack.