Creepy Culture: The Phantom of the Opera

Lot 666 then, ladies and gentlemen: a chandelier, in pieces.

Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera,

a mystery never fully explained.

Our workshops have repaired it and wired parts for the new electric lights.

Perhaps we can frighten the ghosts of so many years ago…

with a little illumination. Gentlemen! 

~Auctioneer, The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

When I was in elementary school, my parents took my sister and I to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. My sister and I put on our best dresses and felt so grown-up going to the theater. After we saw the play, we listened to the complete 2 disc soundtrack all the time. We thought the song, The Phantom of the Opera was real rock and roll! Although the story is truly a love story, it does contain murder and mystery and that makes it perfect for this spooky time of year!

The story of The Phantom of the Opera was originally a part of a series by the French author Gaston Leroux. He wrote Le Fantôme de l’Opéra in 1909 and throughout the years, it did not do so well. It was not until the success of the 1925 silent film that the story really became popular.

Tagged as, “A masterpiece of horror that shocked cinema for decades!”, this 1925 version starred Lon Chaney as Erik, the Phantom. He was already famous for his self-spplied makeup in the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame and was once again given artistic freedom to do his own makeup in this movie. The unmasking scene was kept from the public until the premiere. Once unveiled, audience members screamed and fainted at the sight of the grotesque figure!

The story begins with Opera Populaire’s manager, Lefevre, leaving and his successors, Andre and Firmin, take over the opera.  Andre and Firman bring their new patron, le Victome Raoul de Changy. The opera throws a gala, at which the leading diva Carlotta refuses to perform, due to the mysterious ‘Opera Ghost’ who seems determined to have her leave. Without a diva, Andre and Firmin are determined to find a new leading lady. They invoke the talents of a young, chorus-singer named Christine Daae, who has been taking lessons from a mysterious tutor. Raoul, Christine’s old childhood sweetheart, recognizes her at her triumphant gala performance, and wants to bring Christine back into his life. But, suddenly, Christine’s mysterious tutor reveals himself to her…

Over the years, different plays and movies have been made but it was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical staring Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae that solidified The Phantom of the Opera as a classic.

Mr. Webber opened The Phantom of the Opera in the West End in 1986, and then on Broadway in 1988. The play won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Michael Crawford as the Phantom, won the 1986 Olivier and 1988 Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical. The Phantom of the Opera is now the longest-running show in Broadway history, and the second longest-running West End production.

With total worldwide box office profits of over $5.1 billion including a Broadway gross of US $800 million, Phantom is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time and the most financially successful theatrical show in history.  It had been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries which makes it the most successful entertainment project in history.

In 2004, Warner Brothers released a new movie based closely on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. The production starred Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae, Patrick Wilson as Raoul, and Gerard Butler as the Phantom. It was widely revered as an instant classic and is throughly enjoyed by theatre enthusiasts and new followers alike. 

Any part of this production is perfect for Halloween. Watch the original 1925 silent film version or the new 2004 version, listen to the haunting Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack, or read an online copy of Gaston Leroux’s book for free through The Literature Project here. Just make sure you have someone with you in case you get scared!

“Tonight I gave you my soul, and I am dead.”

– Christine, from Gaston Leroux’s: The Phantom of the Opera

Information gathered using:
http://www.imdb.comhttp://www.theatrehistory.com/british/musical005.html,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_of_the_Opera_(1986_musical)

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Arts, Culture, Halloween, Music, Musical Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s