The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera".
Phantom is the most popular, most seen musical ever and is now one of the longest-running musicals in history - surpassing Cats as the longest running Broadway show. According to its official website, it is the most successful entertainment project in history, grossing more than US $5 billion worldwide by 2007.
The Phantom of the Opera opened in London's West End in 1986. The production was directed by Hal Prince, choreographed by Gillian Lynne, designed by Maria Björnson, with lighting by Andrew Bridge.
In 2004, the musical was made into a film, directed by Joel Schumacher, and co-produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In 2008, the West End production marked its nine thousandth performance.
In March 2010, a musical sequel opened. Its title is Phantom: Love Never Dies. The opening was delayed from its original date of November 2009. The first act was staged at Andrew Lloyd Webber's country home, Sydmonton.
Inspired by an earlier musical version of the same story by Ken Hill (see Phantom of the Opera (1976 musical)), The Phantom of the Opera had its first preview on 27 September, 1986, and opened at Her Majesty's Theatre in London on 9 October of the same year, starring Michael Crawford as the titular character, Sarah Brightman as Christine, and Steve Barton as Raoul. Phantom is now the second-longest-running West End musical in history, behind Les Miserables and celebrated its 9,000th performance there on 31 May 2008.
The musical opened on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre, on 26 January 1988 and is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber's Cats on 9 January 2006, with its 7,486th Broadway performance. Crawford, Brightman and Barton reprised their respective roles from the London production. George Lee Andrews, who was in the Broadway company when the production opened in 1988, is still in the current cast. He has been playing the role of André since 2000, having played Firmin for the preceding decade. He holds the Guinness World Record for the longest run in the same Broadway show in history. Mary Leigh Stahl (1988-2006) and Richard Warren Pugh (1988 until his death in 2006) are also long-serving cast members.
The musical won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award as the best musical in its debut years on the West End and Broadway. Both the London and New York productions are still running as of 2009. According to the musical's website, it has been seen in 124 cities in 25 countries and played to over 100 million people. With total worldwide box office takings of over £3.5bn ($5.1bn), Phantom is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time. The New York production alone has grossed US $715 million, making it the most financially successful Broadway show in history. In a sign of its continuing popularity, Phantom ranked second in a 2006 BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
Michael Crawford won a Tony Award in 1988 for his role as the title character, as well as an Olivier Award in 1986.
In the winter of 1984, Cameron Makintosh, the co-producer of Cats and Song and Dance received a phone call. Andrew Lloyd Webber was looking to create a new musical. He was aiming for a romantic piece, but having trouble reining in a worthwhile idea, and, hitting upon the idea of using Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, recently turned into a moderately-successful rock-musical at London's West End, as a base,and pitched the idea. Cameron and Lloyd Webber attended version, but were not satisfied with what they had seen. They screened both the 1925 Lon Chaney and the 1943 Claude Raines film versions, but neither were able to gain any material that might be useful in making the leap from book to stage. While in New York, Lloyd Webber tracked down a copy of the long out-of-print Gothic/Horror novel at book fair and read it. At last he had found what he was looking for. He described finding it heavily romantic, exactly the kind of material he was looking for, and began work from there developing it to fit into musical form.
At the Paris Opera House in 1911, an auction is underway. Set pieces from the old theatre are being sold. Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, purchases a music box 'in the shape of barrel organ'. Lot 666 is then up, which is a chandelier in pieces. The auctioneer mentions that the chandelier was involved in the "strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained." The chandelier illuminates and slowly begins to rise to the rafters of the theatre as the opera house is restored to its original grandeur (Overture).
At the Paris Opera House in 1881, a rehearsal for Hannibal is underway. Monsieur Lefevre, the owner, announces that he has sold the theatre to two new managers, Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur André. They observe two of the ballet dancers, Meg Giry and her friend, Christine Daaé, with some curiosity. André asks Carlotta, the resident diva, to sing an aria. She agrees, but in the middle of the song, a backdrop suddenly falls dangerously close to her. The company blames the accident on the Opera Ghost. Carlotta has dealt with such incidents for several years, and says that she has had too much of it. She quits, taking Piangi, the tenor, with her. The managers lament having to cancel the show, but Meg quickly suggests they consider Christine to replace Carlotta. They agree to hear her sing, and Christine starts her song ("Think of Me") tentatively, but as she impresses the entire company with her voice the scene changes to the night of the performance. Christine, now in costume as the leading lady, makes a triumphant début.
The managers and Raoul (the new patron of the Opera House) look on from the stage box. Raoul is particularly impressed; he remembers Christine from their childhood. After the performance, Madame Giry praises Christine and castigates the ballet girls, forcing them to practice into the night. The Phantom's voice in the distance commends Christine on that night's performance. Meg sneaks away from the rehearsal to find Christine outside her dressing room. She expresses her delight in her friend's change of fortune but wonders how it occurred. Christine tells Meg that the Angel of Music has been tutoring her in singing during the night and thinks he has been sent from Heaven by her father. The two discuss this mysterious teacher ("Angel of Music") until Madame Giry arrives to retrieve Meg and to deliver a note from Raoul.
The managers bring Raoul to Christine's dressing room. She is pleased to see him, and reminisces with him ("Little Lotte"). She tells him the Angel of Music has visited her, and he, impressed by the beauty of her voice, says he is sure she has, not realising that the Angel is not just imaginary. He invites her to dinner, but she declines because the Angel of Music would be angry. When Raoul leaves, the Phantom sings to Christine about his displeasure that Raoul is trying to court her ("Angel of Music/The Mirror"). Christine pleads for his forgiveness and begs the Angel to show himself. He complies, revealing himself behind Christine's mirror. The Phantom takes Christine behind the mirror and through a series of underground tunnels to his lair ("The Phantom of the Opera"), where he entreats her to sing for him. The Phantom later serenades her ("The Music of the Night") eventually showing her a life-size doll resembling Christine in a wedding gown. The doll then reaches out to grab her, and Christine faints. The Phantom, realising that showing her the doll was too much, carries her to a bed.
The next morning, Christine sees the Phantom bent over his organ, furiously composing ("I Remember..."). As she sneaks up behind him, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she pulls back his mask. She sees his deformity behind the mask, though the audience does not. Furiously chasing her about the lair, he challenges her to look at his face and in the end they finally both fall to the ground. The Phantom tries to explain that he only wants to be like everyone else, and that he hopes she will learn to love him in spite of his face ("Stranger than You Dreamt It"). She returns his mask and the two have a moment of understanding before he returns her to the surface. As the Phantom and Christine sneak back into the theatre, Joseph Buquet regales the ballet girls with terrible tales of the mysterious Opera Ghost ("Magical Lasso"), warning them that the only way to protect themselves is to "keep your hand at the level of your eyes." The Phantom catches sight of them, and the ballet girls run off screaming. Madame Giry warns Buquet to exercise restraint, or the consequences will be severe.
In the managers' office, Firmin, Andre, Raoul, and Carlotta are puzzled by several cryptic notes received from the "Opera Ghost" and blame each other for them. Madame Giry arrives with another note in which the Phantom tells the managers to keep Box Five free for him, to give the leading role in the opera Il Muto to Christine, and relegate Carlotta to the silent part of a pageboy. ("Notes..."). Carlotta accuses Raoul of orchestrating the whole event and claims that he has had an affair with Christine. Fearing the loss of their main soprano (and her lover, the principal tenor, Piangi) the managers promise her that she will keep her leading role ("Prima Donna").
At Il Muto that night, Carlotta indeed plays the role of the Countess; Christine is the mute pageboy. Raoul decides to sit in Box Five to watch the show. The show is going well ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh"), until the Phantom appears on the proscenium arch. He startles everyone by yelling out that the managers did not keep box five empty. However, they nervously continue the show. He then furiously tantalises Carlotta and makes her voice croak like a frog. Humiliated, she flees into Piangi's arms. The show stops, and the managers announce that it will resume with Christine as the Countess. The ballet chorus is sent out to entertain the waiting crowd, but the performance is interrupted when the backdrop lifts to reveal the corpse of Joseph Buquet hanging from the rafters. In the ensuing melee, Christine finds Raoul and takes him to the roof where they will be safe from the Phantom's machinations.
On the roof, Christine tries to tell Raoul that she has seen the Phantom's face and has been in his lair, but Raoul does not believe her ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Christine hears the Phantom, but Raoul looks around and sees no one. Raoul promises to love and protect her always ("All I Ask of You"). The two make plans to see each other after the show. After Christine and Raoul head back downstairs, The Phantom emerges, having heard the entire conversation. He is heartbroken, but his sorrow turns to rage and he vows vengeance against Raoul ("All I Ask of You (Reprise)"). Returning to the theatre, he sends the mighty chandelier crashing down upon the stage during the curtain call.
Everyone is in attendance at the masquerade ball ("Masquerade"). The Phantom has not shown himself for six months. Christine and Raoul are now engaged. To Raoul's dismay, Christine insists on hiding her ring, which is on a chain around her neck. The Phantom enters, dressed as the title character from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". He announces that he has written an opera, and that he expects the managers to produce it ("Why So Silent?"). He also confronts Christine, takes her engagement ring from her, shouting that she belongs to him and then disappears in a puff of smoke. Raoul tracks down Madame Giry and convinced that she is hiding something, forces her to tell him what she knows about the Phantom. She recalls visiting a traveling fair years ago and finding "The Living Corpse" locked in a cage--a genius with terrifying deformed face who escaped and was never heard from again. She flees with Raoul in hot pursuit after exclaiming she has said too much.
The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant, causes chaos and arguments among the managers and actors. Christine has been granted the largest part in the opera, which angers everyone. She tells the managers she does not 'want any part in this plot' because she fears the Phantom will capture her. Raoul realises that they can use the opera as a trap to capture the Phantom ("Notes/Twisted Every Way"). Christine is unhappy with the idea, as she does not want the Phantom dead. Tormented by the choice she must make, she flees the room.
Rehearsals begin, everyone converses and Carlotta and Madame Giry argue about the song. Finally, Carlotta sings the song mockingly. The piano starts to play by itself and everyone sings along mechanically except for Christine. She visits her father's grave to try to make sense of the situation, longing that he were there to help her make the right decision ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears and sings to her, again in the guise of the Angel of Music ("Wandering Child"). Christine easily falls under his spell once more.
Raoul enters the scene and brings Christine back to reality. The two men verbally spar ("Bravo, Monsieur!"), while the Phantom shoots fireballs down at Raoul but Christine begs Raoul to run away with her. Enraged, the Phantom declares that they have both become his enemies ("Now let it be war upon you BOTH!") and launches a final fireball, incinerating the graveyard in a dramatic explosion of flames.
Back at the Opera House, Raoul and the police go over plans to trap the Phantom. Raoul instructs a marksman hiding in the orchestra pit to kill the Phantom and the police set out to bar all the exits. The voice of the Phantom is heard, taunting them. He appears in Box Five but vanishes as the marksman fires. Raoul rounds on him; the Phantom interrupts, insisting they show the play as usual ("Don Juan Triumphant"). Christine appears on stage to sing ("The Point of No Return"). The operatic title character "Don Juan" appears onstage, with his face covered. During her duet with "Don Juan", Christine realises she is singing with the Phantom instead of Piangi for whom the part was originally intended. The Phantom gives her a ring and expresses his love. Christine whips off his mask (and this time, additionally, a wig) to reveal his misshapen face and bald, deformed skull to everyone but before the police can intervene, the Phantom drags Christine offstage. Carlotta cries out in horror as Piangi is discovered dead, and a mob sets out to track down the Phantom. Madame Giry locates Raoul to take him to the bridge above the lake, and tells him where to find the Phantom. She warns him of the Punjab lasso, telling him to keep "your hand at the level of your eyes". Raoul asks that she come with him but Madame Giry insists that it is too dangerous.
Down in the lair, the Phantom has forced Christine to put on the wedding dress ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer"). Christine asks if he is going to rape her, whereupon he tells her he only wants her love and will force her to gaze upon his face if he has to. Christine declares that she is not afraid of his face but his soul. Raoul arrives, pleading for Christine's safe return. The Phantom admits him to the lair but Christine and Raoul's reunion is cut short when the Phantom snares Raoul in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine an ultimatum: either he will kill Raoul and let Christine go, or she will stay with him and Raoul can go free ("Final Lair").
The Phantom insists that she must choose. Christine sadly tells the Phantom that he deceived her. Raoul apologizes and expresses his love for Christine, telling her that as long as she is safe from the Phantom it does not matter what happens to him. Finally, Christine makes her choice and kisses the Phantom. Stunned by the kiss, which is the first real human love he has ever felt, he sets Raoul free and releases Christine. He asks them both to keep his existence a secret.
The young lovers begin to leave, but a moment later Christine returns with the Phantom's ring, and The Phantom declares his love for her. Christine hands back the Phantom's ring and forces herself to turn away. She and Raoul leave in the Phantom's boat, singing to each other. The Phantom sobs into the wedding veil Christine has left behind and, as the mob approaches, sings his last line: "It's over now, the music of the night!" He sits in his throne and pulls his cape around him. Meg slips through the bars in the gate and searches for Christine and approaches the throne to find that the Phantom has vanished, leaving behind only his mask.
The show is staged with an Orchestra consisting of 27 musicians, which is large by comparison with most recent Broadway musicals. The show uses 18 instruments and multiple percussion instruments. The majority of the orchestra are string instruments, with large woodwind and brass sections; the percussion section is quite small. The show uses both acoustic instruments and synthesisers.
"Hannibal" - Carlotta, Piangi, Chorus and Ballet Girls
"Think of Me" (Part 1) – Carlotta, Ballet Girls, Andre and Buquet
"Think of Me" (Part 2) - Christine and Raoul
"Angel of Music" – Meg and Christine
"Little Lotte/The Mirror (Angel of Music)" – Christine, Raoul and Phantom
"The Phantom of the Opera" – Phantom and Christine
"The Music of the Night" – Phantom
"I Remember/Stranger than You Dreamt It" – Christine and Phantom
"Magical Lasso" – Buquet, Meg, Madame Giry, and Ballet Girls
"Notes/Prima Donna" – Firmin, André, Raoul, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Meg, Piangi and Phantom
"Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh (Il Muto)" – Carlotta and Company
"Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There" – Raoul and Christine
"All I Ask of You" – Raoul and Christine
"All I Ask of You (Reprise)/Chandelier Crash" – Phantom
"Masquerade/Why So Silent" – Company
"Notes II" - Firmin, Andre, Carlotta, Piangi, Raoul, Christine and Madame Gery
"Twisted Every Way" – Christine and Raoul
"A Rehearsal for Don Juan Triumphant" - Chorus, Carlotta, Piangi and Christine
"Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" – Christine
"Wandering Child/Bravo, Monsieur!" – Phantom, Christine and Raoul
"The Point of No Return" – Phantom and Christine
"Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer" – Phantom, Christine, Raoul and Company
"Final Lair" – Phantom, Christine and Raoul