The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical)

The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical).jpg
Poster
MusicAndrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics
Book
BasisThe Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
Premiere9 October 1986: Her Majesty's Theatre, London
Productions
See list
Awards

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart. Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber wrote the musical's book together. Stilgoe also provided additional lyrics.[1] Based on the French novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, its central plot revolves around a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius living in the subterranean labyrinth beneath the Paris Opéra House.[2]

The musical opened in London's West End at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1986, and on Broadway in 1988. It won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Michael Crawford (in the title role) won the Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical.[3] It is the longest running show in Broadway history by a wide margin, and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on 11 February 2012, the first production ever to do so.[4] It is the second longest-running West End musical, after Les Misérables, and the third longest-running West End show overall, after The Mousetrap.[5][6][7]

With total estimated worldwide gross receipts of over $5.6 billion and total Broadway gross of $845 million,[8] Phantom was the most financially successful entertainment event until The Lion King surpassed it in 2014.[9][10][11] By 2011, it had been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities across 27 countries, and continues to play in London and New York.[9]

Development

Idea

In 1984, Lloyd Webber contacted Cameron Mackintosh, the co-producer of Cats and Song and Dance, to propose a new musical. He was aiming for a romantic piece, and suggested Gaston Leroux's book The Phantom of the Opera as a basis. They screened both the 1925 Lon Chaney and the 1943 Claude Rains motion picture versions, but neither saw any effective way to make the leap from film to stage. Later, in New York, Lloyd Webber found a second-hand copy of the original, long-out-of-print Leroux novel, which supplied the necessary inspiration to develop a musical: "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!"[12]

Lyricists

Lloyd Webber first approached Jim Steinman to write the lyrics because of his "dark obsessive side", but he declined in order to fulfill his commitments on a Bonnie Tyler album.[13] Alan Jay Lerner was then recruited, but he became seriously ill after joining the project and was forced to withdraw; none of his contributions (mostly involving the song "Masquerade") are credited in the show.[14][15] Richard Stilgoe, the lyricist for Starlight Express, wrote most of the original lyrics for the production. Charles Hart, a young and then-relatively unknown lyricist, later rewrote many of the lyrics, along with original lyrics for "Think of Me". Some of Stilgoe's original contributions are still present in the final version, however.[16]

Score

Inspired in part by an earlier musical version of the same story by Ken Hill,[17] Lloyd Webber's score is sometimes operatic in style but maintains the form and structure of a musical throughout. The full-fledged operatic passages are reserved principally for subsidiary characters such as Andre and Firmin, Carlotta, and Piangi. They are also used to provide the content of the fictional "operas" that are taking place within the show itself, viz., Hannibal, Il Muto, and the Phantom's masterwork, Don Juan Triumphant. "Here, Lloyd Webber pastiched various styles from the grand operas of Meyerbeer through to Mozart and even Gilbert and Sullivan."[18] These pieces are often presented as musical fragments, interrupted by dialogue or action sequences in order to clearly define the musical's "show within a show" format.

The musical extracts from the Phantom's opera, "Don Juan Triumphant", heard during the latter stages of the show, are dissonant and modern—"suggesting, perhaps, that the Phantom is ahead of his time artistically".[19][20]

Design, direction, and choreography

Maria Björnson designed the sets and over 200 costumes, including the elaborate gowns in the "Masquerade" sequence. Her set designs, including the chandelier, subterranean gondola, and sweeping staircase, earned her multiple awards.[21][22] Hal Prince, director of Cabaret, Candide, Follies, and Lloyd Webber's Evita, directed the production, while Gillian Lynne, associate director and choreographer of Cats, provided the integral musical staging and choreography.

Other Languages
latviešu: Operas spoks
粵語: 歌聲魅影