The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical) | synopsis

Synopsis

Prologue

In 1911 Paris, the Paris Opéra hosts an auction of old theatrical props.[40] Among the attendees is the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, who purchases a papier-mâché music box and eyes it sadly, remarking how the details are "exactly as she said."[41][42] The auctioneer presents the next item for bid, "lot 666", "a chandelier in pieces", alluding to a connection with "the Phantom of the Opera". As the porters remove the drop cloth covering the fixture, it flickers to life and ascends to the ceiling as the auditorium's former grandeur is restored ("Overture").

Act I

It is now 1881[43] and the cast of a new production, Hannibal, are rehearsing onstage when they learn that new owners, Firmin and André, are taking over the Paris Opéra House ("Hannibal Rehearsal"). Carlotta, the Opéra's resident soprano prima donna, begins to perform an aria for the new managers when a backdrop inexplicably falls from the flies, barely missing her and prompting anxious chorus girls to whisper, "He's here! The Phantom of the Opera!". The managers try to downplay the incident, but Carlotta angrily insists that such things have been happening for "three years" and she storms out, quitting the show. Madame Giry, the Opéra's ballet mistress, informs Firmin and André that Christine Daaé, a chorus girl and orphaned daughter of a prominent violinist, has been "well taught" and can sing Carlotta's role. With cancellation of the sold-out show being their only other alternative, the managers reluctantly audition her and are surprised to discover that she is indeed talented. As Christine sings the aria during the evening performance, the Opéra's new patron, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, recognises her as his childhood friend and playmate ("Think of Me").

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman performing the title song

Backstage after her triumphant début, Christine confesses to her friend Meg (Madame Giry's daughter) that she knows her mysterious teacher only as an invisible "Angel of Music" ("Angel of Music"). Raoul pays a visit to Christine's dressing room and the two reminisce about the "Angel of Music" stories that her late father used to tell them. Christine confides that the Angel has visited her and taught her to sing ("Little Lotte"). Raoul indulges what he assumes are fantasies and insists on taking Christine to dinner. When Raoul leaves to fetch his hat, Christine hears the jealous Phantom's voice and entreats him to reveal himself. The Phantom obliges by appearing as a ghostly, partially masked face in her mirror ("The Mirror/Angel of Music (Reprise)"). Believing him to be the Angel of Music sent by her deceased father, Christine is irresistibly drawn through the mirror to the Phantom, who leads her down into the cellars of the Opéra house. The two then board a small boat and cross a subterranean lake to his secret lair ("The Phantom of the Opera"). The Phantom explains that he has chosen Christine to sing his music and serenades her. When he reveals a mirror that reflects an image of her in a wedding dress, the figure in the mirror gestures to Christine and she faints from shock. The Phantom then covers her tenderly with his cloak and puts her on a bed ("The Music of the Night").

As the Phantom is composing music at his organ, Christine awakens to the sound of the monkey music box ("I Remember"). Overcome with curiosity, she slips behind the Phantom, lifts his mask, and beholds his grotesquely disfigured face. The Phantom rails at her prying gesture and Christine runs in fear. He then ruefully expresses his longing to be loved ("Stranger Than You Dreamt It"). Moved by pity, Christine returns the mask to the Phantom and he escorts her back above ground.

Meanwhile, Joseph Buquet, the Opéra's chief stagehand, regales the chorus girls with tales of the "Opéra Ghost" and his terrible Punjab lasso. Madame Giry arrives and warns Buquet to exercise restraint or face the Phantom's wrath ("Magical Lasso"). In the managers' office, André and Firman read notes from the Phantom and are interrupted by Raoul, who accuses them of sending him a note saying that he should make no attempt to see Christine again. Carlotta and Piangi then burst in, demanding to know who sent Carlotta a note warning that her "days at the Opéra Populaire are numbered." As André and Firmin try to calm Carlotta, Madame Giry delivers another note from the Phantom: he demands that Christine replace Carlotta as the Countess in the new opera, Il Muto, and that Box 5 be kept empty for him. The managers are warned they will face a "disaster beyond imagination" if these demands are not met ("Notes"). Firmin and André assure the furious Carlotta that she will remain their star and Christine will play the Pageboy, a silent role ("Prima Donna").

The première of Il Muto initially goes well, until the voice of the Phantom suddenly cuts through the performance, enraged that Box 5 was not kept empty for him as he had directed. As Christine whispers that she knows the Phantom is near, Carlotta reminds her that her role is silent, calling her a "little toad". The Phantom states that it is Carlotta who is the toad and reduces the diva's voice to a frog-like croak. Firmin rushes to defuse the situation by announcing to the audience that Christine will take over the starring role, and he instructs the conductor to bring the ballet forward to keep the audience entertained. Suddenly, the corpse of Joseph Buquet drops from the rafters, hanging from the Punjab lasso. Firmin and André plead for calm as mayhem erupts and the Phantom's diabolical laughter is heard throughout the auditorium ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh").

In the ensuing chaos, Christine escapes with Raoul to the roof and tells him about her subterranean encounter with the Phantom ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Raoul is skeptical but promises to love and protect her, and Christine reciprocates his vow ("All I Ask of You"). Christine and Raoul go back inside, unaware that the Phantom has overheard their entire conversation. The heartbroken Phantom angrily vows revenge before returning to the auditorium and bringing down the chandelier during the curtain call ("All I Ask of You (Reprise)").

Act Il

Steve Barton and Sarah Brightman in the final scene

Six months later, during a masquerade ball, the Phantom appears in costume as the Red Death. He announces that he has written an opera entitled Don Juan Triumphant and demands that it be produced with Christine (who is now secretly engaged to Raoul) in the lead role, and he warns of dire consequences if his demands are not met. Noticing an engagement ring on a chain around Christine's neck, the Phantom angrily pulls it from her and vanishes in a blinding flash of light ("Masquerade/Why So Silent").

As the masquerade attendees scatter in fear, Raoul accosts Madame Giry and demands that she reveal what she knows about the Phantom. Giry reluctantly explains that the Phantom is actually a brilliant scholar, magician, architect, inventor, and composer who was born with a terrifyingly deformed face and was ostracized for it. Feared and reviled by society, he was cruelly exhibited in a cage as part of a traveling fair until he eventually escaped and disappeared. He subsequently took refuge beneath the opera house, which has now become his home.

Before rehearsals, Raoul plots to use the première of Don Juan Triumphant as a trap to capture the Phantom and put an end to his reign of terror. Carlotta falsely accuses Christine of being the mastermind, suggesting that it is all a ploy to make her the star. Christine angrily defends herself, explaining that she is his victim just like everyone else. Raoul, knowing of the Phantom's obsession with his fiancée, asserts that the Phantom will attend the opera's première and begs a reluctant Christine to help lure the Phantom into the trap, but she refuses ("Notes/Twisted Every Way"). During rehearsal, Piangi is unable to sing his part in the new opera, causing frustration and chaos for everyone. The piano suddenly begins to play the piece by itself (having been possessed by the Phantom) and the entire company immediately sings the proper notes in unison.

Torn between her love for Raoul and her awe of the Phantom, Christine visits her father's grave, longing for his guidance ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears atop the mausoleum, again under the guise of the Angel of Music ("Wandering Child"). The weary Christine begins to succumb to the Phantom's influence, but Raoul arrives to rescue her. The Phantom taunts Raoul, hurling fire balls at him until Christine begs Raoul to leave with her. Furious, the Phantom declares war upon them both and causes flames to spring up around the mausoleum ("Bravo Monsieur").

With armed policemen having secured the auditorium and watching for the Phantom, Don Juan Triumphant premieres with Christine and Piangi singing the lead roles. During Don Juan's and Aminta's duet, Christine comes to the sudden realization that the Phantom has somehow replaced Piangi ("Don Juan Triumphant/The Point of No Return"). Mimicking Raoul's vow of devotion on the rooftop, the Phantom once again expresses his love for Christine and forces his ring onto her finger. Christine rips off his mask, showing his horrifically deformed face to the shocked audience. Exposed, the Phantom hurriedly drags Christine off the stage and back to his lair. Piangi's garroted body is revealed backstage and the opera house plunges into chaos. An angry mob, vowing vengeance for the murders of Buquet and Piangi, search for the Phantom. Madame Giry tells Raoul how to find the Phantom's subterranean lair and warns him to beware the magical lasso. ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer").

Down in the lair, the Phantom has compelled Christine to don a wedding dress. In a moment of epiphany, she explains that she is not fearful of his physical appearance, but rather his inner nature. Raoul reaches the lair and attempts to persuade the Phantom to spare Christine and begs him for compassion. The Phantom retorts that the world had never shown him any and ensnares Raoul in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine an ultimatum: if she will stay with him, he will spare Raoul, but if she refuses, Raoul will die ("The Point of No Return Reprise"). As the Phantom and Raoul both vie for Christine, she sadly asks the Phantom what life he has been forced to live. Finally, she tells the Phantom that he is not alone and kisses him, showing him compassion for the first time in his life.

Having experienced kindness at last, the Phantom realizes that he cannot win Christine by force and sets them both free. Raoul hurries Christine out of the lair, but she returns alone to give the Phantom back his ring. The Phantom once again pledges his love to her as she tearfully exits the lair to rejoin Raoul. As the angry search mob closes in, the devastated Phantom huddles on his throne beneath his cloak. Meg is first to reach the lair and finds no one there. She approaches the throne with curiosity and quickly pulls away the Phantom's cloak, but finds only his mask. She lifts the mask up into the light and gazes at it in wonder as the curtain falls ("Finale").[44]

Other Languages
latviešu: Operas spoks
粵語: 歌聲魅影