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26 December 2018, 16:58 | Updated: 26 December 2018, 17:00
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical has been wowing audiences since 1986
The Phantom of the Opera is a 1986 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The lyrics are by Charles Hart and it’s based on a French novel by Gaston Leroux.
The plot of the Phantom of the Opera
The story of the musical revolves around the singer Christine Daaé and a mysterious figure who lives in an underground lair beneath the Paris Opéra House.
The story begins as the singers of the Paris Opera are rehearsing for a new production. As the prima donna Carlotta performs an aria, a backdrop falls onto the stage and just misses her. The chorus immediately realise that the Phantom of the Opera is here. Carlotta refuses to perform.
Christine, a chorus girl, offers to take her place. And the managers of the house are surprised at her talent. It turns out that Christine has been taking singing lessons with a mysterious figure whom she only knows as her ‘Angel of Music’ – the Phantom himself.
One of the opera house’s new patrons, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, recognises Christine as one of his childhood friends.
But the Phantom has chosen Christine to sing his music, and he becomes increasingly obsessed by her.
The Music of the Night – lyrics
One of the most famous songs in the musical, The Music of the Night is performed by the Phantom just after he's taken Christine to his underground lair.
It opens with the words: 'Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation / Darkness stirs and wakes imagination'
All I Ask of You – lyrics
This song is a love duet between Christine and Raoul – he promises to love and protect her… but unfortunately the jealous Phantom overhears the whole thing.
The song begins with:
'No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears'
The idea for Phantom came from Lloyd Webber, who contacted legendary producer Cameron Mackintosh and suggested creating a musical based on Leroux’s novel. There had already been two film versions of the novel, but never a musical.
Lloyd Webber said: “I was actually writing something else at the time, and I realised that the reason I was hung up was because I was trying to write a major romantic story, and I had been trying to do that ever since I started my career. Then with the Phantom, it was there!”
The style of Lloyd Webber’s music is deliberately operatic in style, while still remaining committed to its West End/Broadway origins. In fact, the story includes a number of made-up operas called Hannibal and the Phantom’s masterpiece Don Juan Triumphant.
The original cast of the 1986 West End production included Sarah Brightman (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s then wife) as Christine and Michael Crawford as the Phantom. Steve Barton played the role of Raoul.
The musical opened on London’s West End in 1986 and then on Broadway in New York in 1988.
The Phanton of the Opera won a strong of awards including the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1988. It’s the longest-running show on Broadway, and in 2012 it celebrated its 10,000th performance!
Is Phantom of the Opera an opera?
Not exactly. Much of the music – especially the operas-within-the-musical – mimic the grand operas of the 19th century in their orchestration and style.
But the music makes completely different demands of its singers and the blockbuster songs of Phantom are custom-made for the powerful singers of the West End. And we wouldn't have it any other way.