Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

(No Series)

First published in French as a serial in 1909, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine's childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous 'ghost' of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.

“Erik is not truly dead. He lives on within the souls of those who choose to listen to the music of the night.”

I'm not a fan of musicals... at all. I've never seen a play besides a childhood production of the Velveteen Rabbit, which hardly counts. Despite this, I've always wanted to see a live production of 'Phantom of the opera.' What is it about the story and atmosphere that draws so many in? I've seen movies - the musical drama (not my thing), the Robert Englund horror version (sorry to say, poorly done and excessively gory), and the even worse horror version by Dario Argento with Julian Sands having an overly personal relationship with rats. Finally, the book...

It's hard to tell how accurate the translation is, but I enjoyed this writing style and the wording. I can never tell when risking these classics, and while it did have a dab of that Victorian age melodrama and overly done wording, especially with painful and romantic dialogue, it was gifted with humor while it made fun of itself and the Victorian age writing style. That's the brightest shine it held- the author was genuinely funny as he tormented the unfortunate, skeptic theater managers and poked morbid circumstances onto the crew.

When he turned serious with characters and romance, it falls short. Really Raoul is just awful, bad enough to where I can see why Christine may be tempted to go with a doomed, insane stalker instead. He's childish, fond of tantrums, over the top with affection, obsessive....I can see him as a Romeo type whose life would be over if his crush went the opposite direction. It was tiring. Christina isn't much better as she seems wishy-washy when she's probably supposed to appear mysterious.

As for the Phantom, I feel all adaptations I've seen missed a unique spark that can't translate over. He's not ideal and perfect since he's clearly bonkers, inconsistent with plans and affections, melodramatic with some of his dialogue, but I'd rather be on the same page with him over the depressing Raoul.

There's not much tension or terror besides the underground track and that bizarre torture room/device - seriously, what a way to go? Have to give props for originality.

Ultimately I didn't get the ending and the death thing and where it's coming from - I would have assumed he was a phantom, not alive fully in the first place, and it's hard for me to pinpoint his exact ailments. If you can shrug aside overdone Victorian tones and appreciate it's daring humor, it's a classic worth reading. Romantic though? Not in the least.

   Book Quotes:

“If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me.”

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