The Phantom of the OperaKazuyo Yokoi
In 1896, there was an accident in Paris Opera House. The chandelier was burned during a play, and fragments fell on the audience. Many people were killed and hurt. It was a really big tragedy. And it became the big inspiration for Gaston Leoux to write the novel, The Phantom of the Opera in 1911.
Now, lets open the curtain!!
It is 1911 and in the Paris Opera House, auction is held. An old man in a wheelchair buys a poster and a music box. Auctioneer shows the Opera House chandelier and starts to tell about the legend of The Phantom of the Opera. Then, with flash of the chandelier, audience is lead back to the time when the legend started.
It is in the Paris Opera House. Many girls and guys are preparing for the next play. They sing and dance, and the style of ballet is very different from that of modern ballet. As clear characteristic of the style, dancers dont raise their arms so high. It seems so elegant and grace. And there, Carlotta is singing as a prima donna. Suddenly, a backdrop falls to the floor and it nearly kills her. Frightened, she screams "It's The Phantom of the Opera!" Carlotta refuses to sing.
Then, Christine Daae, comes to take Carlotta's place. Christine has been taking lessons from Angel of Music, and she says her dead father has sent him to her. After great success of the play, Raoul talks to her. He has noticed that she was his friend in their childhood since he saw her singing. He tries to invite her to dinner, but she refuses it because her teacher is very strict and she has to go to lesson. She disappears to underground lair lead by Angel of music, the Phantom of the Opera.
There, she faints at the frightening vision, and after a while, she awakes at the sound of organ which the Phantom plays. She creeps up to the Phantoms back, and takes off the mask suddenly. He gets very angry, and he takes her back to the ground.
The Phantom has sent notes to participants of the next opera, Il Muto. It demands that they make Christine to take leading role and give Carlotta supporting part. The managers refuse it because they dont want to get in a bad mood with Carlotta. However, as promised, disaster occurs. A man is killed, and Carlotta's beautiful voice is stolen. In the confusion, Raoul and Christine escape to the roof of the Opera House. There, they talk of their love of one another. They keep it secret, but the Phantom can know everything in the Opera House. Enraged at Christine's betrayal, the Phantom causes the last disaster of the night. The magnificent chandelier comes crashing to the stage floor.
The second act opens at a grand Masquerade Ball. People enjoy the masked ball with no fear, because no one has heard from the Phantom in six months. Suddenly, the Phantom appears, disguised as The Red Death, and delivers to the managers a score from his opera, Don Juan Triumphant. People are frightened, but Raoul and the managers think about making plan to trap the Phantom. They think if only Christine play the leading part, he appears! At last, the opening night of Don Juan Triumphant comes. The theater is surrounded by guards and police to catch the Phantom. As the opera comes to its end, the Phantom kills the man playing Piangi, the lead singer, and he himself plays the role. He faces to Christine on stage during the performance, and escapes with her again to his labyrinth below the Opera House.
As a last confrontation, the Phantom gives Christine a choice: stay with him forever, or he will kill Raoul. Her decision brings to an end the story of The Phantom of the Opera.
<Paris Opera House>
The Paris Opera House rose to pre-eminence in the eighteenth century. After the Revolution, it was restored to its leading position in Paris by Napoleon in the reforms of 1807. The Paris Opera House survives in much the same form described in the novel. It possesses a three-acre site and some idea of the labyrinthian nature of the building can be appreciated if one considers that the auditorium accounts for less than one fifth of the total space. There are over seventeen stories, seven of which are below the stage level; the stables for the opera horses still exist. There is a monument to La Carlotta. More important, there really is a lake underneath the building; it is an integral part of the design, and the water level acts as ballast, raised or lowered, depending on the weight of the stage, seven stories above it.
The phantom wears a mask in the play. He uses it to veil his deformed face, and Christine is trying to take it off. And more, in the first part of second act, the masked ball is held. No one can see who is who. People are disguised as different persons. Masks seem to have a very important role in the play.
A mask is used to hide identity, to hide deformity, and to change personality. Some of Shakespeares works also have masks in the story. For example, Romeo and Juliet, The merchant of Venice and Othello. And people wearing masks appear in a lot of literary works and movies, too.
Mask or some kind of disguise has been interesting to people for a long time.
You can enjoy song and dance simply, but this musical is not only entertainment, but also inheritance. It shows us the style of opera, ballet and theater in the 19th century. The beauty of synthesis art really fascinates us!! It is very different from our Japanese style, and includes a lot of mystery; all these things lead us to the world of The Phantom of the Opera.
Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault