The Phantom of the Opera
By gaston leroux.
- The Phantom of the Opera Summary
There are rumors that the opera house is haunted by a phantom who makes himself known by sending letters to the managers and by causing disturbances. On the retirement gala for the old opera managers, opera singer Christine attracts the attention of her childhood sweetheart, Raoul.
One night during a performance of Faust, with the resident prima donna, Carlotta , playing the female lead, the Phantom causes Carlotta to lose her voice and the chandelier to fall into the audience.
Christine is kidnapped by the masked phantom; he tells her his name is Erik and reveals her love for her. When Christine unmasks the phantom out of curiosity, his ugliness shocks her. The phantom decides to keep Christine prisoner for the rest of her life, but then he allows her to leave after she promises to wear his ring and remain faithful to him. Christine later tells Raoul that she was kidnapped; Raoul promises to run away with her, both unaware that Erik has been listening to their conversation.
During a production of Faust , Erik kidnaps Christine again and gives her an ultimatum: marry him or he will blow up the entire opera house. Christine refuses, but then she finds out that Erik has kidnapped Raoul as well as the Persian (Erik's old acquaintance) and has trapped them inside a torture chamber. In order to save them, as well as the occupants of the opera house, Christine agrees to marry Erik.
The Phantom of the Opera Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Phantom of the Opera is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Its beauty is an illusion wrought by the music.
Why do you think Christine thought she was dreaming when she first heard the voice?
I think she thought the voice was so beautiful, could it be real?
What is the atmosphere in the Phantom of the Opera?
The tone and mood of Phantom of the Opera is mysterious, romantic, tragic, and serious. There is also a mythic quality to it.
Study Guide for The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera study guide contains a biography of Gaston Leroux, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
- About The Phantom of the Opera
- Character List
Essays for The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux.
- Erik of the Phantom of the Opera and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights as Byronic Heroes
- Identity Issues in The Phantom of the Opera
Lesson Plan for The Phantom of the Opera
- About the Author
- Study Objectives
- Common Core Standards
- Introduction to The Phantom of the Opera
- Relationship to Other Books
- Bringing in Technology
- Notes to the Teacher
- Related Links
- The Phantom of the Opera Bibliography
Wikipedia Entries for The Phantom of the Opera
- Film and television
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The Phantom of the Opera
Writers: Richard Stilgoe Andrew Lloyd Webber Charles Hart
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Prologue It is Paris in 1905. An auction of old props and relics from the Opéra Populaire (fictional, but based loosely on Paris’s Palais Garnier) is underway. An elderly man, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, purchases Lot 665, which is a music box topped with a monkey (“every detail exactly as she said,” he notes). The next item up for auction, Lot 666, is a broken but grand chandelier. The auctioneer remarks that the chandelier played a major role in "the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera." When the dust cover is pulled off of the chandelier, it flickers to life and ascends to the ceiling at the center of the auditorium; the audience is transported back in time to 1881 as the Opéra is restored to its former grandeur.
Act One The Opéra rehearses for that evening’s performance of Hannibal; as the company’s egotistical prima donna, Carlotta, sings her aria, a piece of the set suddenly falls from the catwalk. As the new owners of the company, André and Firmin,
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- Guide written by
- Ellen Leslie
- Cassidy McCleary
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The Phantom of the Opera
Why Do Audiences Love This Show?
- Musical Theater
- Stand Up Comedy
- M.A. in Literature, California State University – Northridge
- B.A. in Creative Writing, California State University – Northridge
The Phantom of the Opera is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Based on Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom holds the record as the longest-running musical on Broadway. For over twenty years, Webber’s masked musical has wowed audiences with its over 9000 performances on the West End, not to mention the countless touring companies that have spread Phantom-mania throughout the world.
So, What Makes Phantom So Popular?
The Phantom of the Opera combines high-tech stagecraft with good old fashioned melodrama. Consider some of the elements featured in this musical:
- A sweeping musical score.
- Powerful, operatic voices.
- Sharp, direction by Harold Prince.
- A sprinkling of ballet choreographed by Gillian Lynne.
- Elaborate costumes and dozens of quick changes.
- And when all else fails to entertain: Throw in a falling chandelier.
Why Do Some People Hate Phantom ?
Anytime something is immensely successful, a critical backlash is to be expected. In my observations, many who are serious about musicals despise much of Webber’s work, opting instead, for instance, for the more complex compositions of Stephen Sondheim. Some might argue that The Phantom of the Opera is filled with gimmicky effects, flat characters, and sub-par trilling.
As warranted as these criticisms might be, there is a component to this show that remains the secret of its phenomenal success. The show has been a hit for over two decades because the character of the Phantom is a mesmerizing anti-hero.
The Bad Boy Image
Step one in winning the hearts of the female audience: create a mysterious character with a dark side. Step two: Make certain that underneath that dangerous exterior lurks a loving heart, ready to bloom when the right woman happens along. A character that is seemingly cold, callous, and even cruel delights the hearts of romance addicts. Just look at some of these supposed jerks who turned into dreamboats:
- The Beast from Beauty and the Beast
- Edward Cullen from Twilight
- Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
The Phantom’s character possesses these traits – but there are some key differences. For one, the Phantom murders two innocent people. He crosses a moral boundary, making us wonder – should we despise him or pity him? Also, most romantic leads are stereotypically attractive. Even the protagonist from Beauty and the Beast was secretly a handsome prince. Not so, with the Phantom. He appears attractive until the mask is wiped away, revealing his hideous deformation.
Musical Genius and Renaissance Man
To contrast his violent nature, the Phantom is a masterful composer of brooding ballads which have the power to transfix the young singer, Christine Daae. More than just a musician, the Phantom is also almost like a Parisian Batman. He’s got a cool lair, which he constructed himself. He has created a plethora of inventions (some of them deadly). Also, he is a shrewd businessman (or extortionist) because he constantly sends payment notices to the opera managers. We can only assume he also designs his own costumes. All of this talent almost makes the viewer want to ignore his murderous crimes.
Sensitive Soul or Sinister Stalker?
Yes, The Phantom of the Opera has been called the most “haunting romance” of all time. But think of it: would you really want someone becoming obsessed over you the way the Phantom becomes obsessed with Christine? Maybe not. Today we call that stalking. However, because deep down the Phantom has a sensitive soul, audiences ultimately become sympathetic to him, despite his villainous behavior.
Through exposition, we learn that the Phantom was imprisoned in a carnival freak show. We also learn that his own mother despised him. He sings about his appearance: “This face which earned a mother’s fear and loathing.” These details put the audience in a forgiving mood.
In the final scene, the Phantom attempts a devious plan. He threatens to kill Christine’s handsome boyfriend, Raoul unless she decides to live with the Phantom. However, his plan backfires. Christine sings, “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known. God give me courage to show you, you are not alone.” Then, she bestows upon the Phantom a long, passionate kiss.
After the smooch, the Phantom is overwhelmed by the experience of physical affection. He feels an unselfish love for Christine and he releases the young lovebirds. His transformation differs from other stories which hinge upon true love’s kiss. In this case, the Beast archetype doesn’t turn into a handsome prince. However, he does undergo a moral awakening. And it is that moment, the Phantom's reaction to the kiss, that makes The Phantom of the Opera a classic.
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- The Phantom of the Opera Story
The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1988, winning seven Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Based on Gaston Leroux’s horror novel, it tells the enticing story of the Phantom, who haunts the stage of the Paris Opera and subsequently falls in love with a beautiful young soprano. Audiences are in for a thrilling night of spectacle and romance, accompanied by Broadway’s most unforgettable score.
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The Phantom of the Opera
Book by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Richard Stilgoe: Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber: Lyrics by Charles Hart: Additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe
Her Majesty's Theatre, London - October 9, 1988 Majestic Theatre, Broadway - January 1, 1988
0n the stage of the Opera de Paris, 1905, old stage props are being auctioned. The elderly Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, is the major buyer and he seems emotionally affected by his purchases. A broken chandelier is produced. The auctioneer recalls its connection with the mysterious tale of the Phantom of the Opera nearly 50 years earlier. The music begins as the working portion of the chandelier is lit. Like magic, the lit portion starts to grow to full size. Finally, it rises to its former position in the auditorium as the stage of the Opera reverts, in flashback, to the grandeur of the year 1861. The great soprano Carlotta Giudicelli is rehearsing the opera Hannibal.
As she sings her aria, the backdrop crashes down. The chorus insist that this is the work of the Phantom and a frightened Carlotta refuses to perform that evening. Meg, who performs in the Opera's ballet, suggests that her fellow dancer Christine Daae should take over. As Christine sings for managers, André and Firmin, the scene changes to that evening's performance where she enjoys a great success. The Opera's distinguished patron - Raoul as a young man - recognises Christine as a childhood acquaintance.
In her dressing room afterwards, Christine confides to Meg that she has a mysterious teacher whom she has never seen. She associates this disembodied voice with her dying father's promise to send an 'angel of music' to watch over her. Raoul de Chagny asks Christine to supper. As he leaves, the Phantom, angry at Raoul's familiarity with his protégée, commands Christine to look in the mirror. She sees him, then takes his hand and disappears with him through the mirror.
The creature leads Christine deep into the caverns and waterways beneath the opera house and across a subterranean lake, lit by candelabra. When they reach his secret lair, he plays a huge organ and sings of his shadowy, sensual world of music. The next morning, Christine wakes to the sound of the Phantom composing at the organ. She snatches at his mask and reveals his horribly disfigured face. Although he is enraged, he is reluctant to return her to the theatre and only does so after realising that her absence will cause a search.
Messages are then delivered from the Phantom. Raoul is forbidden to see Christine and another decree orders that Christine be given the leading role in the next opera, Il Muto, while Carlotta is to take a nonsinging role. Carlotta is furious. To keep her with the company, André and Firmin flatter her outrageously and privately assure her that she will, after all, play the star part.
They have reckoned without the Phantom. In the first performance of Il Muto he ridicules Carlotta by making her croak like a toad. Then a stagehand is found murdered. Christine takes Raoul up on to the roof of the theatre where they will be safe from the Phantom. She tells him everything. He comforts her and confesses his love, which she returns. The Phantom witnesses their kiss. Christine completes the opera in Carlotta's place. As she takes her curtain call, the great chandelier crashes to the stage.
Act Two opens on New Year's Eve. Everyone is gathered at the Opera for a masked ball. It is now six months since the chandelier incident and Raoul and Christine have secretly become engaged. At the height of the festivities, the Phantom appears on the Grand Staircase dressed in red and wearing a death's-head mask. He presents the score of a new opera, Don Juan Triumphant, and commands that the Opera stage it. In the notes to his opera, the Phantom orders that Christine not only take the primadonna role but that she should return to him for more tuition.
Confused and afraid, Christine seeks comfort at her father's grave but even there she is haunted by her angel of music. As he calls her to him, the figures of her father and the Phantom seem to merge in her mind. Raoul appears and breaks the mesmeric influence by carrying Christine to safety.
During the premiere of the opera, the Phantom murders the leading man and takes his place opposite Christine. He sings passionately of his love. At the climax of his song, Christine tears at his mask to expose his hideous deformity to the audience. Screaming, he grabs her and they disappear, pursued by theatre staff.
Raoul, the first to reach the Phantom's lair, is trapped and a rope is dropped over his neck. The monster offers Christine a choice: succumb to him or see her loved one die. Christine, feeling both terror and pity, approaches the Phantom and kisses him. The kiss has a magical effect. The creature releases Raoul and urges them both to cross the lake. As they leave, he whispers, 'Christine, I love you'. The Phantom covers himself with his cloak as the mob breaks in. The cloak is snatched aside. Only his mask remains.
- Think of Me - Carlotta, Christine and Raoul
- Angel of Music - Christine and Meg
- Little Lotte ../The Mirror (Angel of Music) - Raoul, Christine & Phantom
- The Phantom of the Opera - Phantom and Christine
- The Music of the Night - Phantom
- I Remember .../Stranger Than You Dreamt It - Christine and Phantom
- Magical Lasso - Buquet, Meg, Madame Giry & the Ballet Girls
- Notes ...../Prima Donna - Firmin, André, Raoul, Carlotta, Giry, Meg &Phantom
- Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh - Carlotta and Company
- Why Have You Brought Me Here ..../
Raoul and Christine All I Ask Of You - Raoul and Christine All I Ask Of You (Reprise) - Phantom
- Masquerade/Why So Silent - Full Company
- Twisted Every Way - André, Firmin, Carlotta, Piangi, Raoul, Christine, Giry & Phantom
- Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again - Christine
- Wandering Child .../Bravo, Monsieur - Phantom, Christine & Raoul
- The Point of No Return - Phantom and Christine
- Down One More ..../Track Down This Murderer - Full company.
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It’s no exaggeration to say that Lloyd Webber and ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ have changed the trajectory of musical theater.
No stranger to the Broadway blockbuster, legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber would hit heights previously unseen, even by him, with the opening of The Phantom of the Opera in 1986.
While it arrived on the heels of earlier successes Jesus Christ Superstar (1970), Evita (1976), and Cats (1981), among others, the inspiration behind Phantom gave Lloyd Webber the opportunity to write the sort of show he hadn’t before and had been longing to… a high romance. He and his collaborators, lyricist Charles Hart and librettist Richard Stilgoe, loosely adapted the 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, amping up the tale of a haunted Paris opera house into a tragic love story between a deformed genius and his muse.
“I basically took elements from the book, and quite a few elements from the book, but I basically wrote my own tale about somebody who was writing and composing music that was out of its time,” Lloyd Webber told The Belfast Telegraph .
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The part of Christine Daaé, the titular opera ghost’s favored soprano, was written for Lloyd Webber’s then-wife, Sarah Brightman, with the role of the Phantom going to tenor Michael Crawford. Brightman and Crawford, along with the rest of the original West End company, are featured on the 1987 London Cast Recording, which remains the best-selling cast recording of all time and is certified quadruple Platinum in the United States.
The production was helmed by hugely influential American director Harold Prince, and when it came to Broadway in 1988, was immediately a critical hit and a box office smash. But while the musical brought droves of theater fans to both its London and New York City homes – and snatched up Olivier and Tony Awards in the process – the cast recording allowed people all over the world to fall under the spell of the rich, textured, and passionate score.
Almost operatic in nature, Phantom includes little straight dialogue, so listeners of the cast recording get close to the full experience. All one has to do is to close their eyes and imagine masked revelers on a grand staircase during “Masquerade,” a smoky underground layer dotted with candles during “Music of the Night,” and a falling chandelier at the end of “All I Ask of You (Reprise).” The score also reaches out to audiences who may not even consider themselves musical theater fans by incorporating (quite appropriately) elements of opera, as well as electronic flourishes that were not at all out of step with the rest of the late 80s.
“There’s been a real schism between the pop and opera worlds, and this kind of theater really does try to bring them closer,” fellow composer William Bolcolm told The New York Times of The Phantom of the Opera in 1988.
From the bombastic guitar riffs in the title song to the dissonance of the music the Phantom composes for his “modern” opera, Phantom distances itself from the golden age of musicals, as ruled over by Rodgers and Hammerstein , and even from some of the more adventurous, experimental shows of the 70s and 80s. Yet even as it challenged audiences, it also delivered softer, more sweeping moments in “Think of Me,” “All I Ask of You,” and “The Music of the Night.” The latter two songs charted in the UK, a rare achievement for the genre, and have been covered countless times. If it seemed that every home had a copy of the two-disc CD release near their stereo, that’s because a record-breaking number of them did.
The show has connected with audiences on a global scale. Dozens of productions have been mounted in almost every corner of the world, across six continents. In 2004, a long-awaited feature film adaptation was released, starring Gerald Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson in the lead roles of the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul. After ruminating on it for years, Lloyd Webber finally embarked upon a continuation of the story, the musical Love Never Dies , which premiered in London in 2010 and caught up with the characters 10 years after the events of Phantom – and in much different circumstances. A year later, the Royal Albert Hall hosted an epic 25th-anniversary performance starring Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, and Hadley Fraser. It was beamed to movie theaters all over and got a cast recording of its own.
In the meantime, the West End and Broadway productions continued filling up with enraptured theatergoers, as hundreds of other shows came and went around them without half of the fanfare. The London production ran until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to an extended hiatus, after which a slightly scaled-down interpretation opened in 2021. In 2012, the New York production officially became the longest-running show in Broadway history, a title that had been previously held by another of Lloyd Webber’s creations, Cats . The show will draw its last curtain in February 2023, after an unheard of 35 years on the Great White Way. By the time the Phantom finally vacates Box 5 of the Majestic Theatre on 44th Street, the show will have been performed nearly 14,000 times there.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Lloyd Webber and The Phantom of the Opera have changed the trajectory of musical theater. The show’s crossover impact introduced millions of new fans to the art form, and more than a few musicals that came afterwards owe their sense of scale and spectacle to the international hit. And, even as the Broadway production winds down and the cast recording celebrates its 35th year in print, the show is still firmly in the cultural zeitgeist. Phantom enjoys a passionate TikTok following and has inspired a new package of remixes , featuring remixes by Japanese producer 2118 and legendary Spanish DJ Supermini reinterpreting classic tracks from the show.
The show ends on a note of finality, with the Phantom telling the audience, “It’s over now, the music of the night.” But it seems that there will be no such ending for The Phantom of the Opera , which has achieved immortality in musical history and in the hearts of its fans.
Buy or stream The Phantom Of The Opera: Original Cast Recording .
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