Star of the Week: Anna O’Byrne brings a classical touch to the West End’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis in "Love Never Dies."

Anna O’Byrne and Ben Lewis in “Love Never Dies.”

It seems that the love Anna O’Byrne’s growing fan base has for her will never die. Currently the Christine alternate in the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, the young soprano has found a way into many hearts, including mine.

Anna has played the role of Christine on multiple occasions, and she was first cast in the role a mere two weeks after completing her degree. She went on to originate the role of Christine in the Australian production of the controversial Phantom sequel Love Never Dies, which was later released on DVD. Despite the production’s controversy due to many fans feeling as though it warped the characters, Anna’s portrayal of a caring mother was perhaps one of the most touching things I have ever seen. Her voice floated effortlessly during the title song, and I knew then that I needed to see her play Christine at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

When it was announced that Anna would be joining the cast of The Phantom of the Opera in London as the alternate Christine (the role is double cast due to its intense vocal demands), I knew that I had to get tickets as soon as possible, and I was not disappointed – Anna quickly jumped up my list of “favorite Christines.” Anna trained in classical voice at the Victorian College of the Arts, and this training shone through in her performance. I have seen many Christines who have been wonderful vocally, but whose voices were not as classical as I would prefer, so Anna’s vocals were truly refreshing.

The real highlight of her performance however, was “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” I’ve always felt a personal connection to this song, and her interpretation was absolutely breathtaking.  Even my best friend, who was seeing the show for the first time and who has claimed to ‘never cry’ at theatre, was weeping at this point. What I particularly like about Anna’s portrayal is how her Christine is very book-inspired while still drawing on many of the romantic touches that the musical brings to the character.

Not only has she performed in musical theatre, Anna has also had a career in opera. In 2010, she was the principal artist at the Victorian Opera, and also performed at the Lyric Opera of Melbourne.

Many performers are kind enough to chat with fans at the stage door, and Anna is extremely gracious, taking time to sign autographs, take photos and give advice to aspiring actors.

An exciting future is in store for Anna, and I honestly hope that she gets a role as the principal Christine someday. I have been lucky enough to see her portrayal blossom over the past few months, and I’m excited to see what she does next!

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  1. Love this lady , shes puré talent, glad for all the people who have seen his perfomance as christine