The Phantom of the Opera  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Phantom of the Opera (in French, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra) is a French novel by Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Some believe it to have been inspired by George du Maurier's Trilby, but it is also based on real events related to the Paris Opera House which Leroux investigated, initiated by stories of an opera house ghost. Initially, the novel sold very poorly and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century. Today, it is considered to be a classic of French literature, though it is overshadowed by its many subsequent adaptations. The novel was translated into English in 1911. It has since been adapted many times into film and stage productions, the most notable of which were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical, starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom, Steve Barton as Raoul, and Sarah Brightman as Christine, which is now the longest running Broadway show in history and the most lucrative entertainment enterprise of all time, its worldwide box office over the past 20 years out-grossing even the highest grossing film in history, Titanic.

The story is about a man named Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, an eccentric, physically deformed genius who terrorizes the Opera Garnier in Paris, France. He builds his home beneath it and takes the love of his life, a beautiful soprano Christine, under his wing.

Plot summary

Opera singer Christine triumphs at the gala on the night of the old managers' retirement. Her old childhood friend, Raoul, hears her sing and recalls his love for Christine. At this time there are rumors of a phantom living at the Opera and he makes himself known to the managers through letters and malevolent acts. Some time after the gala, the Paris Opera performs Faust, with the prima donna Carlotta playing the lead, against the Phantom's wishes. During the performance Carlotta loses her voice and the grand chandelier plummets into the audience.

After the accident, Christine is kidnapped by the phantom, and taken to his home in the cellars of the Opera and he reveals his true identity to her simply as Erik, though not his real name. He plans to keep her there for a few days, hoping she will come to love him. But she causes Erik to change his plans when she unmasks him and, to the horror of both, beholds his eyeless, lipless face which resembles a skull dried up by the centuries and covered in yellowed dead flesh. Fearing that she will leave him, he decides to keep her with him forever, but when Christine requests release after two weeks, he agrees on condition that she wear his ring and be faithful to him.

On the roof of the opera house, Christine tells Raoul that Erik abducted her. Raoul promises to take Christine away to a place where Erik can never find her. Raoul tells Christine he shall act on his promise the next day, to which Christine agrees. She, however, has pity for Erik and will not go until she has sung a song for him one last time. Neither is aware that Erik has been listening to their conversation and that he has become extremely jealous.

The following night, Erik kidnaps Christine during a production of Faust and tries to force Christine to marry him. He states that if she refuses, he will use explosives (which he has planted in the cellars) to destroy the entire opera house. Christine refuses, until she realizes that Erik learned of Raoul's attempt to rescue her and has trapped Raoul in a hot torture chamber (along with the Persian, an old acquaintance of Erik who was going to help Raoul). To save them and the people above, Christine agrees to marry Erik. Erik initially tries to drown Raoul, using the water which would have been used to douse the explosives. But Christine begs and offers to be his "living bride", promising him not to kill herself after becoming his bride, as she had both contemplated and attempted earlier in the novel. Erik eventually rescues Raoul from his torture chamber. When Erik is alone with Christine, he lifts his mask to kiss her on her forehead, and is given a kiss back. Erik reveals that he has never received a kiss (not even from his own mother) or has been allowed to give one and is overcome with emotion. He lets Christine go and tells her, "Go and marry the boy whenever you wish", explaining, "I know you love him." She leaves on the condition that when he dies she will come back and bury him.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Phantom of the Opera" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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