Monday, November 28, 2016

Le Fantôme de l'Opera

Image result for le fantome de l'opera
Well apparently it's Phantom of the Opera week, here at Lover of Lembas...?

So far I've reviewed the stage show (as presented in the 25th anniversary production) and the sad follow-up Love Never Dies.

*phantom accent commences* AND NOW, MY CLEVER FRIEND...

...the book!

The Phantom of the Opera was written by Gaston Leroux, known for his detective-fiction.  It was published in 1910 under the title Le Fantôme de l'Opera.

The beginning of the book is a note from Leroux explaining how the story truly took place the phantom was no mere ghost, but a real man who "haunted" an opera house.

"There may be more non-fiction mixed in with Leroux's story. Legend has it that Leroux gave a deathbed confession in 1927, claiming that what he had written 17 years earlier was absolutely true. While there is enough crossover between fact and fiction to make you wonder, Vidal says no worker or patron has ever encountered a ghost at the Paris Opera: “Although we do blame the Phantom as a joke if something inexplicable happens.” Link

The story goes that a singer named Christine sings at a gala for the retirement of the opera house's manager.  Her long lost friend Raoul hears her and begins to fall in love with her.

He follows her to her dressing room and hears her speaking with someone mysterious.

Image result for christine daae drawing
eclecticmuse - DeviantArt

The story right away differs from the musical (or the other way around) because we are seeing things from Raoul's point of view and it makes him a character we route for much more than the character in the musical.

When the phantom doesn't get his way after sending notes requesting that Carlotta not be the soprano in one of the operas, he sabotages her voice and drops a chandelier on the audience.

The phantom kidnaps Christine and brings her to his underground lair.  Christine pulls off the phantom's mask revealing his abhorrent face and he decides to never let her go.  Christine begs for release and the phantom agrees to let her leave after two weeks as long as she will wear his ring.

Later on, Christine explains to Raoul how she was kidnapped and what the deal was.

Image result for christine and raoul drawing

Again, we get more from Raoul's point of view as we learn of Christine's journey through his conversation with her.  Raoul and Christine pledge their love to one another, unaware the phantom is actually listening in on them.

The phantom, in a fit of jealousy, captures Christine during an opera and forces her to marry him or else he will blow up the opera house.  Christine refuses, sure someone will come to rescue her, but it is revealed that Raoul has already failed at rescuing her and is trapped by the phantom.

Christine agrees to marry the phantom in order to save the opera house, and promises not to commit suicide after the wedding if Raoul and his friend (also trapped) are released.  Erik complies and releases Raoul and Co.

Christine gives Erik (the phantom) a kiss on the face and the phantom reveals he has never been given a kiss even from his own mother.  Erik says he will die "of love" for Christine and begs her to visit him on his death day.

She returns his ring to him and buries him after he dies.

Image result for phantom of the opera grave
Musicals On Line

I can't decide if I like the book or the stage production better.  I am leaning toward the stage production, but the book has some valuable things the stage production lacks.

In any case, take a read of some of the most heart-breaking quotes I've ever read:

“If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.”

“Erik is not truly dead. He lives on within the souls of those who choose to listen to the music of the night.”

“All I wanted was to be loved for myself."

“I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears... and she did not run away!...and she did not die!... She remained alive, weeping over me, weeping with me. We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer.”
Image result for phantom of the opera fan art
Nitrogen52rus - DeviantArt

“Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be 'some one,' like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must need pity the Opera ghost...”

“Know that it is a corpse who loves you and adores you and will never, never leave you!...Look, I am not laughing now, crying, crying for you, Christine, who have torn off my mask and who therefore can never leave me again!...Oh, mad Christine, who wanted to see me!”

“He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar.”

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

Image result for christine singing art
Phantom-of-DA-Opera - DeviantArt

“They played at hearts as other children might play at ball; only, as it was really their two hearts that they flung to and fro, they had to be very, very handy to catch them, each time, without hurting them.”

“Are people so unhappy when they love?"
"Yes, Christine, when they love and are not sure of being loved.”

“I am going to die of love....daroga....I am dying of love .... That's how it is... I loved her so! And I love her still...daroga.....and I am dying of love for her, I tell you! if you knew how beautiful she was when she let me kiss her...It was the first ...time, daroga, the first time I ever kissed a woman.. Yes, alive... I kissed her alive.... And she looked as beautiful as if she had been dead!”

“Holy angel, in Heaven blessed,
My spirit longs with thee to rest”

“Our lives are one masked ball.”

Image result for masquerade phantom of the opera

I absolutely love this book, yet it tears me apart.  Erik is such a wonderful character.  He isn't a "bad guy", he's a good guy who does bad things.  I feel so bad for Erik, yet I know that what he does is inexcusable. 

He really is the definition of "mad in love".

Christine is also a really lovable character in the book because she understands the phantom's plight, but isn't floppy enough to go with him.  I think her decision in the end to go with Raoul, but to make sure the phantom understands he is loved, is a really great one.

Raoul is much more likable in the book as well because he seems like he really loves Christine through and through as opposed to Raoul in the musical who only sees her after she does well at the gala.

Image result for can it be can it be christine

Basically the characters are great, the story is amazing, and I love this book.  I do wish that the book could also sing to me because then it would be the best of both worlds...

It can't, but the stage production can.  I think the show and the book balance each other out perfectly, so as long as Love Never Dies is never mentioned in conjunction with these two works, I will be a happy camper :D

(Side note: as I was turning in a huge final I had to take, I found myself "this is the point of no return!")


  1. I need to read this book. I've read a lot about it, and the first few chapters from a preview, but I've never actually read the whole thing. I'll probably always love the musical best, but the book is great I'm sure. :)

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Phantom of the book meant to be about 54 years old, or thereabouts? That made his feelings of the sixteen-year-old Christine pretty odd to me...

    1. Oh yes, you absolutely must! It's the perfect companion to the musical; I feel that they really play off each other.

      I don't remember the mention of any age and I probably would have remembered if it was mentioned since that does sound weird. I'm not 100% sure though.

    2. I checked some sources. Erik's age was never mentioned in the book, but the people who have done the math based on events in his life estimate him to be at least fifty years of age. One of the major factors in that conclusion is that it took him twenty years to write Don Juan Triumphant.
      However, after some looking, I found that Christine was actually estimated to be in her early twenties, having graduated from a particular kind of school (I forget which), and women who completed that education graduated around 20-21.

    3. That sounds about right. I think maybe you assumed she was 16 because the actress who played Christine in the film was only 16.

    4. Possibly. :) I don't remember where I read it originally.

      I answered one of your tags! It's the Q and A tag. :D

    5. Awesome!! I'll go read it right away :)