Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical adaptation of the “Phantom Of The Opera” holds a special place in my heart because it was the first professional musical production my parents took me to as a child. (I still have the ticket stub!) My mother bought Leroux’s original story for me a few years ago, and it seemed like the perfect book to read with Halloween approaching. “Phantom” is touted as one of the greatest horror stories, next to Frankenstein and Dracula, and at just over one hundred years old, the written words of this work are no less spectacular than they were when they were first published in the early 1900’s. Although I didn’t find the story terribly scary, it was quite suspenseful even though I was familiar with the plot. I have to admit that while reading, I was trying to match the book’s plot with the musical, which didn’t exactly line up and in many ways, Webber’s adaptation was far superior because it plucked out the most interesting parts of the novel to create a more cohesive and passionate love story.
The first part of the book focused heavily on the Opera Ghost, whom we know as the Phantom, and his ownership interest in the Opera. The Phantom begins harassing the owners and interrupting the opera productions both because he is upset that the new opera owners have not paid him his fee for using his opera, but also because they refuse to allow Christine Daae to have a leading role. This portion of the story dragged on too long, as did Raoul’s search for Christine in the maze under the theater. The Phantom never emerges as a sympathetic character even though he is passionately in love with Christine because his rage results in murder and destruction. The love story between Raoul and Christine in the musical is far more beautiful than that in the novel, no doubt enhanced by Webber’s powerful music. I couldn’t help but sing along to some of the phrases in the novel like when Christine suggests that she and Raoul enter into a secret engagement I naturally sang “…think of it a secret engagement for your future bride…” Reading “Phantom” was a total experience for me. I listened to the music as I drove to work and watched parts of the new movie musical while cooking dinner. Apparently I also unknowingly hummed the music at night, which slightly annoyed my husband. After a few days he asked me if I could “please stop humming that?” I had to try not to laugh!
I’m glad I read the original story, which was just as fantastic as the dark musical the world loves.