I’ve seen the movies and heard the songs, but now it’s time to go O. G. Opera Ghost, that is.
Leroux sets the novel on the framework of investigating the legend of the ghost of the Paris Opera House and its relation to the disappearance of the young Viscount de Chagny and the promising young opera singer, Christine Daae. Using extracts from interviews, memoirs and piecing together the narrative from these sources, he seeks to uncover the truth of the situation and relay it to the reader.
What results is a novel of surprising humour – the opera ghost is an entertaining if morally bankrupt character – complex character studies and melodrama.
I’ve seen many adaptations of this story, but the one that I recall most vividly is a two part television series starring Charles Dance as the O.G. He is reimagined as a tragic hero, while the original love interest, Raoul, is a controlling baffoon. It’s nothing at all like the book – I recall lots of scenes of Raoul drinking in seedy bars while watching girls dance the cancan – and I had to strike it from my memory while reading the book.
I am amazed that this story was filmed as a monster movie with the phantom playing an organ. There is an organ mentioned, but it is metaphorical rather than literal, and while the O.G has a horrible visage and questionable ethics, he is very intelligent and rather suave when he wants to be.
Likewise, I don’t understand how this was turned into a love story between Christine and the O.G. The phantom has led anything but a sheltered life and while it’s true he has a horrible face, I think it’s his ugly spirit that is more effective at keeping the women at bay. He is controlling and unrealistic, manipulative and lying, and his obsession with Christine is done well.
However, I’m not surprised that reader’s hearts haven’t been captured by the pairing of Christine and Raoul. The young viscount is quick to make judgements about his love and is rather arrogant and annoying. He is a melodramatic avatar rather than a real character, like the others that populate the book.
Christine also suffers in this regard, and I feel she is hard done by because we never hear her side of things and both her suitors use her ill.
However, the descriptions of the opera house and the petty squabbles between the people who work there are priceless. The opera ghost is a wonderful character, and it’s easy to understand why he has stood the test of time.
I award The Phantom of the Opera…
The Phantom of the Opera is widely available in different versions. Click here for a free kindle copy.
I read The Phantom of the Opera as part of a buddy read with my good friend, Joe. Look out for our buddy read post coming soon.