What is the measure of a true villain?
or to quote another Musical,
“Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”
Is the Phantom a true villain?
I won’t go into depth on that subject now, it’s just something to mull over.
The Phantom of the Opera was originally a French novel entitled, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra written by Gaston Leroux. The story was originally published in the Le Gaulois (a French newspaper founded in 1868 by Edmond Tarbé and Henri de Pène). Le Fantôme de l’Opéra was first printed from 23 September 1909 to 08 January 1910.
Leroux was inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera (The Palais Garnier) which occurred during the 19th century. In the real Palais Garnier there is indeed a mysterious lake underneath the Opera House, however, it’s not nearly romantic and has since become a training ground for firemen practicing underwater maneuvers. The infamous chandelier also has some history to it. A counterweight fell from it at one point killing a construction worker.
As well as a mythical tale revolving around a former ballet student’s skeleton in Carl Maria von Weber‘s 1841 production of the German Opera Der Freischütz. (Though there has been no truth found behind the existence of a real skeleton being used during productions of the play.)
The two most famous adaptions are the 1925 silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera, starring, Lon Chaney as The Phantom and of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s 1986 Broadway Musical. (Fun Fact: the 1925 was not the first film version, a German film was made in 1916 entitled, Das Phantom der Oper starring Nils Olaf Chrisander as Erik the Phantom. Unfortunately, This is considered a lost film, since there are no known copies of the film still in existence today.)
Coincidentally, a “talkie” version of the 1925 film was released in 1930, which too has become a lost film.
Universal kept Lon Chaney’s Phantom makeup extremely under wraps so as to keep his big reveal a complete surprise. It worked, most people found Chaney’s makeup quite grotesque. Actor Gregory Peck claimed that this was his earliest movie memory, the makeup frightened him so much that his Grandmother allowed him to sleep in bed with her that night (he was 9). We can thank Chaney for his look, he crafted the make-up himself.
CATS was the longest running Broadway Musical in history, until The Phantom of the Opera took the title. Both Musicals were composed and produced by Andrew Llyod Webber.
Webber considers the scene in which the Chandelier crashes to the stage to be the most theatrical moment he’s ever conceived.
For more facts on Webber’s Phantom check out an earlier post from October: DRAWLLOWEEN 21 : “NOT QUITE PERISHED, MY LADY LOVE, ALTHOUGH SOME DAYS I WISH I HAD.”
Thank you for Reading!
See you Tomorrow!!