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The Phantom of the Opera (original title: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) is a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois from November 19, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadwaymarker show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

Plot

Christine Daaé's mother died when she was very young. She and her father, a famous violinist, traveled all over Sweden playing folk and religious music. Her father was known to be the best wedding fiddler in the land. During Christine's childhood, her father told many stories and a character known as The Angel of Music figured heavily in all of them, especially one about a girl he called Little Lotte, who was able to hear the Angel of Music. When Christine meets Raoul, he also enjoys her father's many stories.

Later, when Father Daaé is dying - probably of tuberculosis - he tells Christine that when he dies he will send the Angel of Music to her. Christine grieves for her father endlessly. She lives with an elderly woman whose now deceased husband had been her father's benefactor. The woman, known as "Mamma Valerius" sends Christine to the conservatory, but Christine's singing is not what it once was. Her sorrow and loneliness make it impossible for her to reach her true potential.

Christine is eventually given a position in the chorus at the Paris Opera House. Not long after she arrives there, she begins hearing a voice which sings to her and speaks to her. She believes it must be the Angel of Music and asks him if he is. The Voice agrees and offers to teach her "a little bit of heaven's music." The Voice, however, belongs to Erik, a disfigured genius who was on the construction crew when the Opera was built and who secretly built into the cellars a home for himself. He is the Opera ghost ("Fantôme" in French can be translated as both "ghost" and "phantom") who has been extorting money from Opera management for many years. Unknown to Christine, at least at first, he has fallen in love with her.

With the help of the Voice, Christine triumphs at the gala on the night of the old managers' retirement. Her old childhood friend Raoul hears her and remembers his love for her. After the gala, Erik takes Christine to live in his home in the cellars, but after two weeks, when Christine requests release, he agrees, but only if she wears his ring and is faithful to him. Christine is, for a time, unable to decide between Erik and Raoul and both suitors become increasingly jealous. Up in the rafters of the Opera, Christine tells Raoul of Erik taking her to the cellars. Raoul promises to take Christine away where Erik can never find her; and so Raoul tells Christine he shall act on his promise the following day, to this Christine agrees, but she pities Erik and will not go until she has sung for him one last time. The two leave, unaware Erik was listening to their conversation. During the week and that night however, Erik had been terrorising anyone who stood in his way, or in the way of Christine's career, including the managers, Carlotta and Raoul.

That night, Erik kidnaps Christine during a production of Faust and attempts to persuade her to marry him. When she does not agree, he offers her a choice: say no, and he will destroy the entire Opera, or say yes and marry him. Christine continues to refuse, until she realizes that Raoul, together with a man known only as "The Persian" who is a figure from Erik's past, have come to rescue her and have, instead, found themselves in a room Erik calls the torture chamber. To save them and the people above, Christine agrees to marry Erik and kisses him. Erik, who admits that he has never before in his life received a kiss - not even by his own mother - is overcome with emotion. He lets Christine go and tells her "go and marry the boy when ever you wish" and "I know you love him." They cry together, and then she leaves. Three weeks later, a notice appears in a Paris newspaper stating that Erik is dead.

Characters

  • Erik — The deformed man (believed to be a ghost), who lives in the catacombs of the opera house and loves Christine.
  • Christine Daaé — A young, Swedish soprano.
  • Raoul, Viscount de Chagny — Christine's childhood friend and love interest.
  • The Persian — A mysterious man from Erik's past.
  • Count Philippe de Chagny — Raoul's elder brother.
  • Moncharmin and Richard — The managers of the opera house.
  • Madame Giry — Erik's loyal box-keeper.
  • Meg Giry — Madame Giry's only daughter, a ballet girl.
  • Carlotta — The spoiled prima donna.
  • Joseph Buquet — The chief scene-shifter.
  • Debienne and Poligny — The previous managers of the opera house.
  • La Sorelli — The lead ballet dancer.
  • Little Jammes — A friend of Meg and also a ballet girl.
  • Rémy — The manager's secretary.
  • Mercier — The acting-manager.
  • Gabriel — The superstitious chorus-master.
  • Mme. la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac — Meg as an adult.
  • Mifroid — The commissary of police called in for Christine's disappearance.


Illustrations

The original French book publication of 1910 was illustrated with five oil paintings by André Castaigne. The paintings served as an inspiration for the 1925 film, and have appeared in many subsequent reprintings and translations.

Adaptations

See: The Phantom of the Opera


There have been numerous literary and dramatic works based on The Phantom of the Opera, ranging from light operas to films to children's books. The best known stage and screen adaptations of the novel are probably the 1925 silent film version starring Lon Chaney, Sr. and the 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Among novels, Susan Kay's 1990 Phantom is one of the best known and most beloved by fans, particularly for its in-depth study of Erik's life and experiences. More recently Big Finish released an audio adaptation of the story with success. The most recent movie adaptation was in 2004, directed by Joel Schumacher. It starred Gerard Butler as Erik, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae, and Patrick Wilson as Viscount Raoul de Chagny.

References

External links




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