Gaston Leroux’s tale of a deformed man, named Erik, haunting a beautiful young woman at an opera house in Paris is one that has become iconic. This is likely due to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that has been a Broadway smash since the 1980s! This happens to be my all time favorite musical (and I am a big lover of theatre and musicals in general)!
Christie Daae was a young woman who had a beautiful voice, and was working toward a career in the opera. Around the time she gets her big chance she meets a man claiming to be her “angel of music.” The “angel of music” is a figure from a story her father used to tell her when she was growing up. Christine’s angel wore a mask, to cover his deformities.
Around this time Christine’s childhood sweetheart, Raoul, returned to her life. As Raoul and Christine are rekindling their love, the Phantom was growing irate with jealousy! Of course, as the Phantom ensures that Christine becomes the star of the opera, he also begins to plot the downfall of Raoul!
During the climatic events Christine shows herself willing to give herself over to the Phantom in order to protect the man she believes she loves. There are many people who prefer the idea of Christine and the Phantom being together, instead of her and Raoul. There was even a followup to the musical that had them ending up together, and that show (Love Never Dies) was a flop.
Erik, the Phantom, becomes less a villain and more an anti-hero when he lets Christine and Raoul safely leave to be together. Christine’s character development is based on her willingness to give up her happiness to save a person she loves. Therefore, the love of Erik and Christine, unfortunately cannot be fulfilled since they have to give one another up for their own development. It is a sad ending, and open to interpretation, Christine and Raoul do not definitively end up together! Christine does save Raoul, a man she believed she loved, and herself, and the Phantom is redeemed. I love the Phantom character, I have always loved a good Byronic hero and modern anti-heroes, so if he and Christine could have ended up together happily that would have been amazing! Alas, they would not have had the important character development had they not parted. This is a dark and deeply felt story!
The book also inspired films, well before it became a musical. My favorite of these films is the 1925 silent masterpiece starring the incomparable Lon Chaney as Erik, the Phantom!
I hope that you have enjoyed this brief overview of The Phantom of the Opera. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is the poster from the film version of the musical. I found the image on imdb.com.
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
- The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
- The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
- The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall (2011)
- Love Never Dies (2012)