Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Phantom of the Opera

I've always liked the musical. It has everything: action and adventure, love and loss, mystery and intrigue, and great music. I learned quite recently that it is based on a book. Yes, I should have assumed as much, but I did not, and so was surprised when I saw it. That was a week ago. I just finished it this morning. It is amazing.

Gaston Lebroux writes the novel as an historian who has done a large amount of research in order at last to shed light on the whole of a great mystery--or rather several great mysteries that turn out to be one and the same. Take everything you know about the Opera Ghost and Christine Daae, and add an extra 5 layers of depth. (One for each cellar in the Paris Opera House in which the majority of the story takes place.) It's older English, translated from French, which lends beauty and character to the structure of the writing not found in our common language today. Due to this it is not a particularly easy read, but it is indeed a rich one. The tragedy of the story is especially expanded from that of the musical. He is uglier, more pitiful, and of a much more complex background. Meanwhile he is far more genius than Mr Webber gave him credit for, and not just when it comes to music. I found myself feeling great pity for him, despite the monstrous things he did, as did Christine and the Persian (a very important character in the book, omitted from the broadway production).

Too often, when you read the original work behind an adaptation, the latter deteriorates, sometimes so far that it's no longer enjoyable. In this case I love it more than ever. Consider this my recommendation to each of you to find a copy.

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Now playing: Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Music Of The Night
via FoxyTunes