CultureReview
Musical PhantomA new interpretation of The Phantom of the Opera
Namgyung You-kyung  |  youkyung.namgyung@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2015.06.08  23:00:28
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리
   
 

“THE OPERA ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak-room attendants, or the concierge. No, he existed in flesh and blood, though he assumed all the outward characteristics of a real phantom, that is to say, of a ghost.” -Gaston Leroux

There have been many cases in which novels are transformed into different genres, such as movies, musicals, and so on. In most cases, the original novels are more familiar to people and so the “transformations” are often thought to be inferior to the original works. There are rare exceptions to this general rule, however, where these adaptations have become much more familiar to people instead and the original novels are largely forgotten. The Phantom of the Opera is probably the best example of all. Now The Phantom of the Opera has been transformed into a musical along with a new interpretation of its main character, the Phantom.

The Phantom

The Phantom of the Opera was created by the versatile French author, Gaston Leroux.  He left his mark on literature with a novel about an extraordinary episode in the history of France’s greatest opera house, the Paris Opera House. Leroux managed to capture in his pages the atmosphere of the latter part of the 19th Century, when belief in the supernatural spirit world was rampant in France. The general plot is as follows: Far beneath the majesty and splendor of the Paris Opera House hides the Phantom in a shadowy existence. Though the Phantom has a prodigious artistic talent, he has a hideous face that excludes him from society. One day he sees a beautiful woman named Christine Daaé with a heavenly voice and a pure soul. He falls in love with her after hearing her sing. The musical Phantom was created based on this original story. As the name of the musical implies, the musical Phantom deals with the tragic story of why Erik had to be the “Phantom” of the opera. The musical sheds new light on his parents, as well as his childhood, and describes the backstage of the opera house that is Erik’s hideout.

The musical format of the story was first performed in January 1991, in Houston Texas’s Theater Under the Stars. The world premiere of the Phantom was presented and the critics praised the musical highly, referring to it as the greatest hit never to have been produced on Broadway. Ever since then, the musical has been played all over the United States and Europe, with all the tickets being sold out for every single performance. After 24 years of great success, in April 2015, the musical Phantom finally arrived in Korea and is played before the eyes of the Korean audience.

What is so special?

The musical consists of two acts with a 20 minute long intermission. The first part of the play focuses on how Christine, who used to sell scores on the street, gets to work in the Paris Opera House through the help of Comte Philippe de Chagny. Erik, the Phantom of the opera, falls in love with Christine and being an excellent singer himself, decides to take her in as a pupil to make the most out of her beautiful voice. Through the personal training from the Phantom, Christine becomes a wonderful singer and earns her place as a member of the company.

Until the very end of act one, the audience would wonder whether there is any difference between the original work and the musical Phantom. Except for the slight difference in how Christine gets to work at the opera and the absence of the character Raoul, the overall plotline is literally the same. After 20 minutes of intermission, however, the audience will soon find the difference and be fascinated by the musical. While the original work, The Phantom of the Opera, focuses on the love story between the Phantom and Christine, the musical Phantom spotlights the Phantom instead. Act two is what truly differentiates the musical from the original work. One by one, the story discloses exactly who the Phantom is by revealing his parents, his birth and his childhood, thus convincing the audience why the Phantom had to be the way he was. By doing this, the musical Phantom is able to deal with the “love” story of humanity instead of depicting only a love story between a man and a woman.

Besides this difference in the storylines, the musical contains comical elements here and there. The lines of the characters and exaggerated actions of some characters like Carlotta cause the audience to laugh. For example, when Carlotta, the new diva and wife of the new owner of the Opera, sings in a terrible voice, the Phantom tells Gerard Carriere, the head of the opera house, that there exists a real “phantom” other than him and that her voice is much more terrible than his ugly face. The audience burst into laughter at this point, as the Phantom, who is regarded as a dark and gloomy character, belittles himself and makes a joke. After watching the musical the audience will discover more hilarious moments that are embedded in places throughout the musical.

An abundant variety of colorful attractions

Apart from the great storyline, the musical itself has lots of attractions that make this one of the most anticipated musicals of 2015. To begin with, the musical Phantom has been designed with the collaboration of experts in each field. For instance, Robert Johanson who led several musicals such as Marie Antoinette and Rebecca to success in the past, directs the musical Phantom this time. Moreover, the musical has an excellent ensemble cast that is beyond imagination. The cast includes artists from different areas besides musical singers alone, including vocalists, singers and ballet dancers. To be specific, the role of the Phantom has been taken by the most well-known musical singer Ryu Jeong-han, the famous singer Park Hyo-shin and popera singer Kai. For the heroine Christine Daaé, world-famous soprano Im Sun-hae, along with musical singer Lim Hye-young and soprano Kim Soon-young take part in the musical. Therefore, every song sung by the cast is so beautiful that it actually sends shivers down the spine.

There are also other elements that make this musical special. Though it is a musical, there is a part when ballet dancers occupy the stage and lead the plotline through the means of a fascinating ballet performance. Along with the flamboyant stage setting that gives the audience the illusion of an opera theater in Paris of the 1890s, the unique ballet performance makes the audience unable to take their eyes off the stage. Finally, the audience is totally immersed in the musical through the use of various special effects, feeling like the audience themselves are also in that situation. The sound of the gun and the drop of the chandelier may surprise the audience as it is so realistic and vivid.

*                 *                 *

The musical Phantom is a story that people all over the world can sympathize with. According to what the composer of Phantom, Maury Yeston said, the main character Erik has a very ugly physical appearance but loves beauty internally. Like Erik, no one is perfect both internally and externally. Ironically, everyone dreams of inner beauty and pursues perfection, like Erik does. As a result, the story of The Phantom of the Opera, which highlights the juxtaposition of love and agony in life, makes everyone have no choice but to love it.

 

Tip!

Between, the General Student Club Union, provides a 50% discount for A and S seats for Yonseians. Each Yonseian can buy as many as four tickets at the discounted price by bringing their student ID card. The tickets are available to buy 90 minutes before the musical.

Date; April 28, 2015 ~ July 26, 2015

Price: VIP \140,000 / R \110,000 / S \80,000 / A \50,000

Place: Chungmu Art Hall, Grand Theater

 

 

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