Shutter to Think: Broadway star delivers during ‘Phantastic’ visit to Dixon High School

At the end of his Masterclass presentation, Franc D’Ambrosio performed “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Dixon High School.
At the end of his Masterclass presentation, Franc D’Ambrosio performed “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at Dixon High School.

My sweetheart gives me so much grief over the ridiculous music I love. Though it’s just playful ribbing she absolutely won’t let me play even a second of it in the car and probably for good measure being that it’s terrible.

However I will not be typecast as one who doesn’t see the beauty and value in all art expressions unless that art expression is the Dave Mathews Band. Only then will I judge, wince and firmly block my aural passages with my digits.

Last week I was at Dixon High School, which had been treated to a visit by the most prolific Phantom ever to grace a lighted stage on Broadway. Franc D’Ambrosio, who’s performed over 2,000 performances of the title character in the on-stage hit “The Phantom of the Opera,” gave a Masterclass workshop for choir students at DHS and critiqued three of Dixon’s most vocally gifted students. Before and after the workshop he sang pieces from productions he’s been in, including “Music of the Night” by Phantom of the Opera.

Now I’m not terribly familiar with the musical myself but when a charged gasp rippled through the choir as Franc announced his musical choice, I figured I was in for something special.

And it was marvelous.

To experience an expert vocalist in an intimate setting has opened my ears wide in appreciation of what a world-class singer can do. I have attended several operas in my times, but I was back in the nosebleed section where the power of the voice didn’t quite affect me like I would have hoped.

This was quite special and moving.

After I first arrived at the school and was hoofing my way to the auditorium, I heard beautiful music being played over the speakers inside of the theater.

Except it wasn’t.

it was Franc warming up in the vestibule.

He introduced himself, saw my camera and pointed at the left side of his face and said, “This is my good side.” We both had a laugh and I took my seat. Later did it dawn on me it was most definitely a Phantom mask joke (facepalm). I had hoped to prove later that I was not the uncultured swine upon our first meeting, but alas he stayed in the shadows as any good Phantom would. I can only hope this column reaches him.

• Follow Sauk Valley Media photographer Alex T. Paschal @svmphotogs on Instagram. Email him at apaschal@shawmedia.com.

Alex Paschal

Alex T. Paschal

Photojournalist/columnist for Sauk Valley Media