September 08, 2023

#08-343: The Phantom of the Opera

Erik--the Phantom--shows his true face as though it were a mask (Wikipedia)

Note: This "haunting" tale of love and madness seems to be perfect for the modern stage, but in fact started out as a French novel over 100 years ago.

Get Ready: How do you think physical deformity (or not) affects a person's mental or moral processes? Is it fair to say "ugly equals evil"? Or "beautiful equals good"?

For many years rumors circulated that the Paris Opera House--properly known as the Palais Garnier--was haunted by a ghost. This, along with other facts and legends, inspired French author Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera, a 1910 novel now better known as a wildly successful musical.

The story is set in the 1880s, when a young Swedish soprano named Christine Daaé performs at the Opera House. When she sings, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny recognizes her as his childhood friend. Raoul later follows her and sees a mysterious figure playing the violin for her. He tries to confront the figure, who knocks him out and escapes.

The Opera House's managers receive a letter telling them to promote Christine over Carlotta, the opera's leading soprano, or the house will be cursed. They assume it is a prank and keep Carlotta onstage, where she falls ill with laryngitis--and a chandelier falls into the audience and kills one spectator.

Meanwhile, the Phantom abducts Christine and takes her to a hidden lair beside an underground lake below the Opera House. She learns his name is Erik. She pulls off his mask and discovers that he has severe facial deformities that cause him to look like an old skull.

He gives her a ring, makes her promise to be loyal to him, and releases her. Once free, she tells Raoul the story, and they plan to run away. But Erik has eavesdropped on them, and the next night abducts her during a production. Raoul goes after them, led below by an Opera House regular known only as "the Persian."

They go directly to Erik's lair, since the Persian has known him for many years. But Erik traps Raoul and the Persian and says he will kill them, and everyone in the Opera House, if Christine will not marry him.

She consents (under duress) and Erik releases the two men. Then he and Christine kiss--his first kiss ever, as even his mother rejected his affection.

He says he will soon die "of love" and asks Christine to return his ring. He also asks the Persian to report his impending death in the newspaper. When he dies, she buries him in a hidden place, along with the ring, and the newspapers report: "Erik is dead." Christine and Raoul elope.


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. abducts
  2. chandelier
  3. duress
  4. eavesdropped
  5. elope
  6. impending
  7. lair
  8. laryngitis
  9. prank
  10. soprano
  1. a severely sore throat
  2. run away to get married
  3. secretly listened in
  4. a home to animals or bad guys
  5. a trick; a ruse
  6. pressure; force
  7. about to happen
  8. the highest female vocal range
  9. a large glass light fixture
  10. kidnaps

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for September 08, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. j; 2. i; 3. f; 4. c; 5. b; 6. g; 7. d; 8. a; 9. e; 10. h