The Phantom of the Opera: A Tale of Undying Love or Crazed Devotion?


Madison Castello, Staff Writer

The classic story The Phantom of the Opera has remained strong and vigilant throughout the years. With recent Broadway musicals becoming more and more popular, like Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton, how has this vintage show remained so beloved? After experiencing this musical this past weekend, I continue to ask myself how it has managed to stay afloat with the more modern musicals. But first, we must cover the storyline to understand what makes it so appealing.

In summary, a young aspiring opera singer, Christine, has been coached by a mysterious man who guides her every movement to the point of obsession. Christine gets the lead part and begins to progress in her life, falling in love with her childhood friend, Raoul, and proceeding forward with her career. The Phantom is outraged and on several occasions tries to lure Christine back to him, through extreme methods such as murder and hostage situations. That’s it. That’s the entire show. A brooding man with an elaborate face mask obsesses over a young girl who is focused on her career and her genuine relationship with Raoul.

While some find the play to be hopelessly romantic, I find it to be strange and almost creepy. The music was extraordinary and the actors were simply spectacular, but to be quite frank, the storyline left me with a plethora of questions and very few answers. How can this be considered love? Yes, it’s true that the Phantom coached Christine and essentially forced her into the main roles, but he also murdered an innocent bystander and ruined the opera house’s chandelier when things didn’t go his way. On the other hand, Raoul stood by Christine’s side and protected her when the Phantom got particularly dangerous, yet, many idolize Christine and the Phantom’s relationship.

Personally, I think most relate to the dire story behind the Phantom. His whole backstory has a sort of “Beauty and the Beast” vibe to it, despite him not ending up with the girl in the end. The pitifully disfigured man is able to make a connection with the youthful, beautiful star of the opera house. The Phantom of the Opera has the perfect fairytale cover, yet, that barely scratches the surface.

The Phantom appears to hide behind his mask and his non-existent love with Christine to hide from the reality right before his eyes. He seems to be borderline obsessed with Christine, to the point of almost stalking her, while the budding opera singer shows little interest in him. For most of the play, Christine believes the Phantom to be her dead father, who promised to send her an “Angel of Music” after he was gone. The Phantom uses this to his advantage and compels Christine to trust him and to follow him in a terribly horrid way. Christine shows visible grief over her father’s recent death while the Phantom manipulates these emotions to his advantage, luring her to his side. Yet, again I must ask, how can this be considered love?

That only covers the Phantom’s control over Christine’s recent heartache, not his influence over the other characters in order to award the starring role to Christine so that he may win her favor. He commits many horrible acts including sabotaging the previous star of the opera, Carlotta’s, performance, murdering a stagehand, holding Raoul hostage, and destroying the opera house’s chandelier. All of these atrocious events, just to woo Christine. She viewed him as a teacher and maybe even a friend, but his obsessive acts caused her to fear for herself and those around her. The career she used to love so dearly had become her nightmare, all because of the crazed Phantom.

Now, the play itself was utterly amazing, leaving the audience open-mouthed with awe. The actors were wonderful with unfathomable talent, and the set was magnificent, but the plot left me with many questions. The music was perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing about it, yet I want to clear up the evident misunderstanding of the relationship between the Phantom and Christine; it wasn’t endearing love, it was a crazed, toxic obsession. Certainly not the pure, fairytale love story many view it to be.

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