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Phantom of the Opera FAQ

Main »» Phantom FAQs

Table of Contents

Who wrote The Phantom of the Opera?

Gaston Leroux. The novel was first published in France in 1910, and is widely available in bookstores.

If you mean the most famous musical incarnation of Phantom, then Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music, and the lyrics are by Charles Hart with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe.

What is Phantom about?

The Phantom of the Opera is the story of a young singer named Christine Daaé and her relationship with two men - Raoul, the young Vicompte de Chagney, and Erik, the mysterious Phantom of the Opera.

Christine is a chorus girl at the Paris Opera House in 1880, whose voice is technically excellent but who has lost all soul and passion for her singing since her father died some years earlier. She begins to be tutored by a mysterious "Angel of Music", who she hears in her dressing room. She believes the Angel to have been sent by her father, and after his lessons she is given a leading role, and astounds everyone by singing with a rapturous passion they have never heard before.

Raoul, a childhood friend, sees her again and falls in love with her, but soon realizes that she is under the sway of another man - her Angel reveals himself to her and leads her through a passageway behind her mirror, down into his home in the cellars of the opera house. He is a genius, a composer and inventor, who has fallen in love with Christine, and shared his love for her by inspiring her voice.

He also wears a mask, and when Christine tears it from his face she discovers that he is badly disfigured.

The story is basically a love triangle, with Christine torn between her attraction towards the Phantom, which confuses and frightens her, and her feelings for Raoul, which are more innocent and safe.

Want to know more? Read the book and see the show! (The stage show does change things, but the movie changes far more.)

Where can I get the script/libretto?

The libretto of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has gone through a number of changes since the Original London Cast recording, so the libretto included with the CD and available in George Perry's "The Complete Phantom of the Opera" is not the same as the show as it is performed on stage now. Indeed, different productions still have variations between them, with occassional different lyrics used in different places.

You can buy Perry's book from Amazon - UK link, and US link.

For the lyrics of the show as they currently stand in most US productions, try Stacey's Musical Village

You can find the movie libretto here.

How old are the Phantom and Christine?

In the novel Christine is about 20, Raoul is 20 or 21, and Erik is 50 to 60 years old.

Although Erik's age isn't given precisely, the background and historical references Leroux gives us enables us to work out that he must be 50, or older.

Similarly Christine's age is not quoted directly, but we are able to work it out from the information Leroux gives us about her childhood friendship with Raoul, and most clearly from her recent graduation from the Paris conservatory.

Confusion has been spread on this topic as in the translation of Leroux's novel by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, there is a passage which reads "Every Opera aficionado knew that the 17-year-old singer's heart had remained pure". However, this is a mistranslation. The French passage reads "Aucun des amis de l'Opéra n'ignorait que le coeur de Christine était resté pur comme à quinze ans..." - "Christine's heart remained as pure as a 15 year old's".

The stage musical does not tell us the ages of the characters, but Christine is clearly a young woman (not a teenager), and Raoul a young man. Michael Crawford was 44 when he created the role of the Phantom on the West End. Stage Phantoms have been as old as 63 and as young as 24.

In the movie, they wanted a "young and sexy" cast, so Emmy Rossum was 16 or 17, and Gerard Butler in his mid-thirties.

What is Erik's life story?

You already read the Basic Questions so you're not going to ask who Erik is, right?

Gaston Leroux gives us some of the Phantom's background in his Epilogue.

He was born near Rouen in France, and ran away from home at a young age because his parents were horrified by him, his own father never seeing his face. He travelled Europe with the freak shows, being displayed as the Living Corpse, and singing with unearthly beauty, learning magic tricks from the gypsies. Tales of his skills went with the traders who saw him, and reached the court of the Sultan in Persia.

Erik had power in Persia for some time, and built a palace for the Shah "much as a conjuror contrives a trick-casket," where the Shah could appear and disappear around its secret passages at will. To protect its secrets the Shah issued orders to have Erik and his workers killed, but he is helped to escape by the Daroga (chief of police).

Erik went on to work for the Sultan of Constantinople, building automata, trap doors, secret rooms, and mazes, before having to flee for knowing too much.

After that, he returned to Paris, and became a contractor. "He tendered for part of the foundations in the Opera. His estimate was accepted. When he found himself in the cellars of the enormous playhouse, his artistic, fantastic, wizard nature resumed the upper hand. Besides, was he not as ugly as ever? He dreamed of creating for his own use a dwelling unknown to the rest of the earth, where he could hide from men's eyes for all time."

And the rest is legend.

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