The 25th anniversary celebrations of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera came to a spectacular close last night (2 October 2011) at the Royal Albert Hall. The third and final concert performance, which was beamed live to 1,000 cinema screens across the country and abroad, finished with an extended curtain call that few present are likely to forget in a hurry.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber made a speech – scroll down to hear it – explaining how “everything came together” in 1986 to create the Phantom phenomenon, paying particular tribute to the show’s late designer Maria Bjornson. He then welcomed onto the stage, already crowded with a 200-strong company of performers and musicians, remaining members of the original creative team and cast, before introducing his own “angel of music”, Sarah Brightman, his soprano muse and then-wife, who originated the role of Christine Daae.

Brightman sang the title song, with backing by a quartet of Phantoms – three who’ve already made their mark on the role, Colm Wilkinson, Antony Warlow and John Owen-Jones, who’s currently returned to the role at the West End’s Her Majesty’s Theatre, as well as young Peter Joback, who will take over there next year. They were joined by the 25th anniversary’s star Ramin Karimloo, still wearing his mask, for a rendition of “The Music of the Night”.

Those on stage – and a sizeable chunk of the capacity Albert Hall audience – sang along throughout, not least impresario Cameron Mackintosh and lyricist Charles Hart, who flanked Lloyd Webber and directed many of the lyrics at him, Mackintosh jumping up and down with excitement.

Though unmiked, original Phantom Michael Crawford received the biggest round of applause and a spontaneous standing ovation on arrival, having “hot-footed” it from the London Palladium, where he’s appearing in Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz. He was visibly moved by the response, his lip quivering as he waved to the crowds and was embraced by former colleagues.

After a final burst of pyrotechnics and cascade of confetti, and a last-minute dash back onto the stage by Karimloo to pick up his Christine, Sierra Boggess, and carry her off in his arms, crew immediately began to strike the enormous set, and production guests, including myriad other Phantom cast members past and present, headed off for an after-party at the Natural History Museum, where the famous mask, projected onto the exterior and interior walls of the Victorian façade, made it clear to all just what was being lauded. Phantastic.

To listen to an unedited recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s curtain call speech at the Royal Albert Hall, click the 'play' button below.