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Top 8 Phantom of the Opera books and movies


“Masquerade… paper faces on parade. Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you!

When the 1986 Broadway production of the Phantom of the Opera‘s soundtrack was released in South Africa in 1989, we started listening to it non-stop. The beautiful voices of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman took us on a journey of music, love and loss. When I was growing up there was no Google or easy access to overseas products.

We had to figure out the story for ourselves. I found myself obsessed with the Phantom – the sad and tragic story of his birth and tried to get my hands on anything relating to the Phantom. I even watched a documentary on the Paris Opera House, starring David Copperfield. DROOL! So here is my top 8 Phantom of the Opera books, TV documentaries and DVD’s:

# 8: Movie: The Phantom of the Opera (2004) {with Gerard Butler}

Gerald butler PoO download

This version of the Phantom of the Opera keeps quite closely with the Broadway Production. I must be honest and say that this is my least favorite version. The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 British film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. In short – a young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House. Call me too critical, but the main reason why I didn’t absolutely love this movie was that the actors they used were not really great singers. To me – the Phantom of the Opera has an almost haunting, angelic voice. Christine’s voice mimics this in the story, however, in the movie, well-know actors Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum are cast. While I can really commend them on trying to sing, this is not their profession and sadly it comes through in the movie. An element in the movie which I did like is the new song by Andrew Lloyd Webber – “No one would listen”. Gorgeous and very heart-touching.

# 7: Book: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux (first released in 1909)

Po OGaston le roux glrglr2

Without the original version of the Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, there would not be a Phantom of the Opera today. The novel is partly inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century and an apocryphal tale concerning the use of a former ballet pupil’s skeleton in Hector Berlioz’s 1841 production of Der Freischütz. When I read the novel, it was a difficult read – almost like a historical rendition of facts. There were truly beautiful moments in the novel. One of my favorite excerpt is: “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.”

# 6: TV Documentary: The secret of the Phantom of the Opera – David Copperfield (1991)

dc PoO - David Copperfield

I am a huge fan of David Copperfield, and in 1991 we had the opportunity to see David Copperfield visit the Paris Opera house with the educational, semi-documentary The Secret of the Phantom of the Opera. What I really loved was that parts of the book, The Complete Phantom of the Opera, was referenced and I could see firsthand the catacombs, dressing rooms, theatre and all the Phantom of the Opera elements that I’ve up to this point, have only been reading about. The coolest part of the documentary was that David Copperfield recited Gaston le Roux’s book at the end of the documentary: “Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be ‘someone,’ like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must need pity the Opera ghost…

# 5: Movie: The Phantom of the Opera (1990) {with Charles Dance}

The_Phantom_of_the_Opera - Charles Dance cd cd2
This version of the Phantom of the Opera was one of the first versions I had the opportunity to see. In this version The Phantom of the Opera (Charles Dance) is a disfigured musician named Erik who lives below the Opéra Garnier in Paris. He has a large part in managing each performance through his friend Gerard Carriere (Burt Lancaster). The Phantom’s life changes when Carriere is dismissed and the opera hires a new manager, Choleti. Choleti’s wife Carlotta is a spoiled woman with a bad personality and terrible voice to match. Christine Daae (Teri Polo) comes to the Paris Opera House in search of voice lessons that Phillipe, the Comte de Chagny promised her, learning that she is not the first pretty face that Phillipe brought there. Carlotta initially dismisses her, but upon learning that Christine “has a patron who is powerful” states that Christine can work in the costume department in Buquet’s place. Christine has no home or money, but Jean-Claude, the doorman, lets her stay in a storage room in the Opera House. That night, Christine wanders onto the stage and sings to the empty theater. The Phantom is immediately spellbound by her voice. When she asks of his opinion on the Comte de Chagny, he replies: “He is unworthy of you. He comes to the Opera for the wrong reasons … he comes for the beauty of faces rather than the beauty of music.”

What I really loved about this version of the story was the beautiful music. Although this was a TV drama, the Phantom’s voice was truly mesmerizing. There were beautiful duets, the Phantom and Christine really seemed like they had a connection. The ending of the movie was quite unconventional in comparison with other movies. I still love this version.

# 4: Movie: Love Never Dies – London Production

lnd Love never dies

I know that a lot of the hard-core fans of Phantom of the Opera didn’t like the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, but here I need to commend Andrew Lloyd Webber. The music is breathtaking, very emotional and tells a sad and heartbreaking story. The story tells of Eric, using a false name, having relocated to a vivacious amusement resort in Coney Island inviting renowned soprano Christine Daaé to perform. She, her husband Raoul and child, Gustave, have no idea what lies in store. Love Never Dies is full of beautiful songs including: “Till I Hear You Sing”, “Beneath A Moonless Sky” and the well-known “Love Never Dies”. If you are a Phantom-fan, I would definitely recommend that you watch this.

# 3: Movie: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall (2011)

Royal albert hall  prah

I’ve had the privilege to see the Phantom of the Opera twice on stage with the cast approved by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. What an amazing experience. I can honestly say that if you desperately want to see the production, watch this movie – it is almost as good as the live production. The story follows a disfigured musical genius, hidden away in the Paris Opera House, that terrorizes the opera company for the unwitting benefit of a young protégée whom he trains and loves. Gorgeous music – a definite MUST watch.

# 2: Book: The Complete Phantom of the Opera (George Perry) (1988)

The complete PoO Tyler Perry pbook pbook2

It might seem strange that I rate The Complete Phantom of the Opera number two on my list, but you need to remember that when I was growing up – this book was my Google! What a delightful book full of pictures, stories and even the original libretto of the 1986 cast! There is also a section in the book where they show step-by-step how they transformed Michael Crawford into the Phantom of the Opera. As Amazon.com describes the book – This is the lavishly illustrated, definitive account of The Phantom of the Opera, tracing the Phantom legend from its origins in historical fact through Gaston Leroux’s heartrending classic novel and other artistic incarnations to the present day and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s incredibly successful musical. This is also a definite must have.

# 1: Book: Phantom – Susan Kay (released: 1990)

Phantom - Susan Kay 250px-Susankayphantom images

I have probably read this book more than 10 times (532 pages). Susan Kay achieves what few other authors have managed to achieve with the Phantom of the Opera‘s tragic story – she gives Erik (the phantom) a soul. The story is loosely based on the Gaston Leroux novel The Phantom of the Opera, but takes things much deeper.

In this book the Phantom is born as Erik in Boscherville, a small town not far from Rouen, in the summer of 1831. His father is a well-known stonemason and dies in a construction accident a few months before his son is born. His mother is the beautiful, talented but spoiled and vain daughter of an English woman and a French architect. With the birth of Erik, he scorns her deformed child and cannot bring herself to name or touch him. Instead, she instructs the elderly priest who baptises him to name the child after himself. Due to his mother’s shame but also for his own safety, Erik is forced to spend his childhood locked in his home behind a mask. The story takes us on a journey with Erik, experiencing his pain, his first love and great loss, his friendship with a kind-hearted architectural professor, his time in the Persian court, his friend the Persian and his time in the Paris Opera House. Early in the book Erik speaks of his abilities, “I can make anything disappear, if I really want to. Anything except my face.”

I don’t want to say anymore – this is definitely my favorite book of all time. A definite must read.

 “You alone can make my song take flight. Help me make the music of the night…”