The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the book written by the French novelist Gaston Leroux. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe directed by Hal Prince, choreographed by Gillian Lynne, lighting by Andrew Bridge and designed by Maria Bjornson.
The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera", who terrorizes the Paris Opera House. It opened on the West End in 1986 and in 2008 surpassed its 9,000th performance there. It is the second longest-running West End musical in history and the longest-running Broadway musical. It was made into a film in 2004 and, according to its official website, it is the most successful entertainment project in history, grossing more than £1.8bn ($3.2bn) by 2007.
The musical opened on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre, on 26 January 1988 and is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber's Cats on January 9, 2006, with its 7,486th Broadway performance. Crawford, Brightman and Barton moved to the New York production, and Judy Kaye played Carlotta.
Despite early negative reviews, including a pan by Frank Rich of the New York Times, the musical won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award as the best musical in its debut years on the West End and Broadway. Both the London and New York productions are still running as of 2008. According to the musical's website, it has been seen in 124 cities in 25 countries and played to over 100 million people. With total worldwide box office takings of over £1.8bn ($3.2bn), Phantom is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time. The New York production alone has grossed US $600 million, making it the most financially successful Broadway show in history. In a sign of its continuing popularity, Phantom ranked second in a 2006 BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
Alan Jay Lerner was then recruited, but died soon after beginning the project, and none of his contributions remained in the show. Richard Stilgoe, who also wrote the lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, then wrote lyrics for the production. However, the composer felt that Stilgoe's lyrics were too witty and clever, rather than romantic. Charles Hart was invited to rewrite the lyrics. Some of Stilgoe's original contributions are still present in the final version.
Due to the vocal demands of Christine's role, two actresses are required (rather than just the lead role and an understudy), with the secondary actress performing twice a week.
The managers and Raoul (the new patron of the Opera House) look on from the stage box. Raoul is particularly impressed; he remembers Christine from their childhood. After the performance, Madame Giry praises Christine and castigates the ballet girls, forcing them to practice into the night. The Phantom's voice in the distance commends Christine on that night's performance. Meg sneaks away from the rehearsal to find Christine outside her dressing room. She expresses her delight in her friend's change of fortune but wonders how it came about. Christine tells Meg that the Angel of Music has been tutoring her in singing during the night and thinks he has been sent from Heaven by her father. The two discuss this mysterious teacher ("Angel of Music") until Madame Giry arrives to retrieve Meg and deliver a note from Raoul.
The managers bring Raoul to Christine's dressing room. She is pleased to see him, and reminisces with him ("Little Lotte"). She tells him she has been visited by the Angel of Music, and he, impressed by the beauty of her voice, says he is sure she has, not realizing that the Angel is not just imaginary. He invites her to dinner, but she declines because the Angel of Music would be angry. When Raoul leaves, the Phantom sings to Christine about his displeasure that Raoul is trying to court her ("Angel of Music/The Mirror"). Christine pleads for his forgiveness and begs the Angel to show himself. He complies, revealing himself behind Christine's mirror. The Phantom takes Christine behind the mirror and through a series of underground tunnels to his lair ("The Phantom of the Opera"), where he entreats her to sing for him. The Phantom later serenades her ("Music of the Night") eventually showing her a life-size doll resembling Christine in a wedding gown. The doll then reaches out to grab her, and Christine faints. The Phantom, realizing that showing her the doll was too much, carries her to a bed.
The next morning, Christine sees the Phantom bent over his organ, furiously composing ("I Remember..."). As she sneaks up behind him, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she pulls back his mask. She sees his deformity behind the mask, though the audience does not. Chasing her about the lair, he challenges her to look at his face and in the end they finally both fall to the ground. The Phantom tries to explain that he only wants to be like everyone else, and that he hopes she will learn to love him in spite of his face ("Stranger than You Dreamt It"). She returns his mask and the two have a moment of understanding before he returns her to the surface. As the Phantom and Christine sneak back into the theater, Joseph Buquet regales the ballet girls with terrible tales of the mysterious Opera Ghost ("Magical Lasso"), warning them that the only way to protect themselves is to keep their 'hand at the level of your eyes'. The Phantom catches sight of them, and the ballet girls run off screaming. Madame Giry warns Buquet to exercise restraint, or the consequences will be severe.
In the managers' office, Firmin, Andre, Raoul and Carlotta are puzzled by several cryptic notes received from the "Opera Ghost" and blame each other for them. Madame Giry arrives with another note in which the Phantom tells the managers to keep Box Five free for him, to give the leading role in the opera Il Muto to Christine, and relegate Carlotta to a silent part ("Notes..."). Carlotta accuses Raoul of orchestrating the whole event and claims that he has had an affair with Christine. Fearing the loss of their main soprano (and her lover, the principal tenor, Piangi) the managers promise her that she will keep her leading role ("Prima Donna").
At Il Muto that night, Carlotta indeed plays the role of the Countess; Christine is the mute pageboy. Raoul decides to sit in Box Five to watch the show. The show is going well ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh"), until the Phantom appears on the proscenium arch. He screams that the managers did not keep box five empty. He then furiously tantalizes Carlotta and makes her voice croak like a frog. Humiliated, she flees into Piangi's arms. The show stops, and the managers announce that it will resume with Christine as the Countess. The ballet chorus is sent out to entertain the waiting crowd, but the performance is interrupted when the backdrop lifts to reveal the corpse of Joseph Buquet hanging from the rafters. In the ensuing melee, Christine finds Raoul and takes him to the roof where they will be safe from the Phantom's machinations.
On the roof, Christine tries to tell Raoul that she has seen the Phantom's face and been in his lair, but Raoul does not believe her ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Christine hears the Phantom, but Raoul looks around and sees no one. Raoul promises to love and protect her always ("All I Ask of You"). The two make plans to see each other after the show. After Christine and Raoul head back downstairs, The Phantom emerges, having heard the entire conversation. He is heartbroken, but his sorrow turns to rage and he vows vengeance against Raoul ("All I Ask of You (Reprise)"). Returning to the theater, he sends the mighty chandelier crashing down on the stage during the curtain call.Act II
Everyone is in attendance at the masquerade ball ("Masquerade"). The Phantom has not shown himself for six months. Christine and Raoul are now engaged. To Raoul's dismay, Christine insists on hiding her ring, which is on a chain around her neck. The Phantom enters, dressed as the title character from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". He announces that he has written an opera, and that he expects the managers to produce it ("Why So Silent...?"). He also confronts Christine and takes her engagement ring from her shouting that she belongs to him.
Raoul begs Madame Giry to tell him about the Phantom. She tells him of a fair that visited the city years ago, complete with acrobats and conjurers. The main attraction was a deformed man locked in a cage; a brilliant mind with the face of a living corpse. It was boasted that he was an architect, scholar, musician and composer who once built a maze of mirrors for the Shah of Persia. Madame Giry goes on to say that he escaped and was presumed dead, but she can never forget him "for in this darkness, I have seen him again". Giry then runs off.
The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant, causes chaos and arguments among the managers and actors. Christine has been granted the largest part in the opera, which angers everyone. She tells the managers she does not 'want any part in this plot' because she fears the Phantom will capture her. Raoul realizes that they can use the opera as a trap to capture the Phantom ("Notes.../Twisted Every Way"). Christine is unhappy with the idea as she does not want the Phantom dead. Tormented by the choice she must make, she flees the room.
Rehearsals begin and everyone converses, and Carlotta and Madame Giry argue about the song. Finally, Carlotta sings the song mockingly. The piano starts to play by itself, and everyone sings along mechanically, except for Christine. She visits her father's grave to try to make sense of the situation. She wishes her father were there to help her make the right decision ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears and sings to her, again in the guise of the Angel Of Music ("Wandering Child"). Christine easily falls under his spell again.
Raoul enters the scene and brings Christine back to reality. The two men verbally spar ("Bravo Monsieur"), while the Phantom shoots fireballs down at Raoul, but Christine begs Raoul to run away with her. Enraged, the Phantom declares that they are both his enemies now and the Graveyard disappears in flames. Raoul and the police go over instructions to trap the Phantom. Raoul instructs a marksman hiding in the orchestra pit to kill the Phantom, and the police set out to bar all of the exits. The voice of the Phantom is heard, taunting them. He appears in Box Five but vanishes as the marksman fires. Raoul rounds on him, but the Phantom interrupts, insisting they show the play as usual ("Don Juan"). Christine appears on stage to sing ("Point of No Return"). Don Juan appears onstage, with his face covered. During her duet with "Don Juan", Christine realizes she is singing with the Phantom instead of Piangi. The Phantom gives her a ring and expresses his love. Christine whips off his mask to reveal his deformed face to everyone. Before the police can intervene, the Phantom drags Christine offstage. Carlotta cries out in horror as Piangi is discovered dead, and a mob sets out to track down the Phantom. Madame Giry locates Raoul to take him to the bridge above the lake, and tells him where to find the Phantom. She warns him of the Punjab lasso, telling him to keep "your hand at the level of your eyes". Meg asks that she come with him, but Madame Giry insists that it is too dangerous.
Down in the lair, the Phantom has forced Christine to put on the wedding dress ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer"). Christine asks if he is going to kill her, whereupon he assures her that he would not, and that his face is the reason that she will not love him. Christine declares that she is not afraid of his face, but his soul. Raoul arrives, pleading to the Phantom to release Christine. The Phantom admits him to the lair and snares him in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine an ultimatum: either he will kill Raoul and let Christine go, or she will stay with him and Raoul can go free.
The Phantom insists that she must choose. Christine sadly tells the Phantom that he deceived her. Raoul apologizes and expresses his love for Christine, telling her that as long as she is safe from the Phantom it doesn't matter what happens to him. Finally, Christine makes her choice and kisses the Phantom. Stunned by the kiss, which is the first real human love he has ever felt, he sets Raoul free and releases Christine. He asks them both to keep his existence a secret.
Raoul leaves, but Christine wants to return the Phantom's ring. The Phantom declares his love for her, and she forces herself to turn away. She and Raoul leave in the Phantom's boat, singing to each other. The Phantom sobs in the wedding veil Christine has left behind. As the mob approaches, he sits down in his throne and pulls his cape around him. Meg slips through the bars in the gate and searches for Christine. She notices the throne and cautiously walks over to it. When she pulls back the cape, she finds that the Phantom has vanished and all that remains is his mask. Meg picks up the mask and holds it aloft as a single light shining on the mask fades into darkness.
The show has a large Orchestra consisting of 27 musicians; the show uses 18 instruments and multiple percussion instruments. The majority of the orchestra are string instruments, with large woodwind and brass sections; the percussion section is quite small. The show uses both acoustic instruments and synthesizers.
When spacial requirements are a concern, the show requires a pre-recorded track during the Overture and the title song. The conductor uses headphones to keep the orchestra synchronized with the pre-recorded tracks. Most of the Phantom's off-stage voiceovers, as well as Christine's high notes (top C's and finally a top E) at the end of the title song, are also normally pre-recorded due to their difficulty.
Yeah, the beginning of that bloody Phantom song is from Echoes. *DAAAA-da-da-da-da-da* [sic]. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's the same time signature — it's 12/8 — and it's the same structure and it's the same notes and it's the same everything. Bastard. It probably is actionable. It really is! But I think that life's too long to bother with suing Andrew fucking Lloyd Webber.
Waters did, however, add a reference to Webber in the song "It's a Miracle" on the Amused to Death album:
We cower in our shelters, with our hands over our ears
Lloyd Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years
An earthquake hits the theatre, but the operetta lingers
Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers
It's a miracle
The Daily Mail announced in May 2007 that the sequel was temporarily delayed when Lloyd Webber's cat, Otto, a rare-breed Turkish Van, clambered onto the digital Clavinova piano and managed to delete the entire score of the sequel. Lloyd Webber was unable to recover any of it from the instrument, but was able to recall enough of it to eventually reconstruct the score.
Three touring companies of The Phantom of the Opera are currently on the road; one in the United States and Canada; the other in Southeast Asia.
The Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps twice built their competitive program around POTO -- in 1988 and 1989 -- coming in 2nd in 1988 and winning their 5th Drum Corps International World Championship with the 1989 program.
Family Guy featured a cut-to of Peter ruining a performance of The Phantom of the Opera by shouting out "take off your mask so we can see your face!" during the Music of the Night scene.