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Articles :: Phantom on Stage

Dating the Phantom


All the different dates given in librettos, programs, and the sets of Phantom can leave one feeling rather confused... Christine Daae examines them, below.
Author profile: Christine Daae
A Phantom of the Opera fan who legally changed her name to Christine Daae.

She ran an international Phantom of the Opera fan club and published a Phantom fanzine, and put up the second ever Phantom of the Opera site on the web. She saw the show 83 times with 18 different Phantoms, in 4 countries.
The current London production of Phantom sets the action of the show in 1881, and the auction scene in 1911, consistent (almost) with Leroux's novel. These dates are now given for most of the productions around the world.

The first librettos date the auction in 1905, and the action of the play in 1861, before work on the opera house was even completed. I had always assumed this was a printing error - it was quickly corrected to 1881. However, the libretto still says that Raoul is 70 in the auction scene, therefore he was born in 1835 and was 26 if the show takes place in 1861, or 46 if it takes place in 1881. My own feeling is that the reference to his age was added by someone who saw the two dates and worked it out from that, and not because the show is supposed to be set in 1861 or that Raoul was supposed to be 46 in the show. Although the dates have now been changed to 1911 and 1881, the Vienna production gave them as 1905 and 1871, when the opera house was still unfinished. The Hamburg production also gives the date as 1871.

Further confusion is caused by the dates on Monsieur Daae's tombstone. In London, they are 1821 to 1872. In Hamburg they are 1831 - 1874; the show there starts in 1871, so her father isn't even dead yet! In Vienna, the dates were 1841 - 1870 (making him die at the age of 29; if the show there took place in 1871, one has to wonder how old this makes Christine!) . The current London souvenir brochure has a photo of the tomb with the dates 1827 to 1870, which I think comes from the Manchester production. In Toronto, they are 1821-1870.

Different productions have different lyrics for "Wishing", but in London Christine sings "three long years...", indicating that her father has been dead for three years, which seems reasonable. Unfortunately, none of the dates of any of the productions tie in with that. The strangest one has to be on the video of "Wishing", which is dated 1860 - 1895, well after the action of the show is ever set.

No wonder the poor girl gets so confused about things.
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