the phantom of the opera is a novel

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The Phantom of the Opera: The Original Novel

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the phantom of the opera is a novel

The Phantom of the Opera: The Original Novel Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 1987

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"The wildest and most fantastic of tales ." - New York Times Book Review .

The novel from the early 20th century that inspired the Lon Chaney film and the hit musical. In the 1880s, in Paris, the Palais Garnier Opera House is believed haunted. One night, a young woman, Christine, is asked to sing in place of the Opera's leading soprano, who is ill; Christine's performance is a success, and she is recognized by the Vicomte Raoul, a childhood playmate and love. Raoul and the Phantom then battle for Christine's heart, as the Phantom demands more and more from her.

  • Part of series Young Reading 2
  • Print length 368 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Harper Perennial
  • Publication date December 30, 1987
  • Dimensions 7.14 x 4.38 x 0.85 inches
  • ISBN-10 0060809248
  • ISBN-13 978-0060809249
  • Lexile measure 910L
  • See all details

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From the publisher, from the back cover, about the author.

Gaston Leroux was a French journalist, short-story writer, and novelist, and is most famous for his acclaimed novel, The Phantom of the Opera . A student of law, Leroux turned to journalism after spending his inheritance on a lavish lifestyle. Over a decade of work as a court reporter and theatre critic for the L’Écho de Paris served as inspiration for his series of successful detective novels featuring Joseph Rouletabille, an amateur sleuth, and Leroux’s contributions to the French detective genre are considered as significant as those of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe. Leroux died in 1927.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The phantom of the opera, harper perennial, chapter one.

1. Is It the Ghost? It was the evening on which MM. Debienne and Poligny, the managers of the Opera, were giving a last gala performance to mark their retirement. Suddenly the dressing-room of La Sorelli, one of the principal dancers, was invaded by half-a-dozen young ladies of the ballet, who had come up from the stage after “dancing” Polyeucte. They rushed in amid great confusion, some giving vent to forced and unnatural laughter, others to cries of terror. Sorelli, who wished to be alone for a moment to “run through” the speech which she was to make to the resigning managers, looked around angrily at the mad and tumultuous crowd. It was little Jammes—the girl with the tip-tilted nose, the forget-me-not eyes, the rose-red cheeks and the lily-white neck and shoulders—who gave the explanation in a trembling voice: “It’s the ghost!” And she locked the door. Sorelli’s dressing-room was fitted up with official, commonplace elegance. A pier-glass, a sofa, a dressing-table and a cupboard or two provided the necessary furniture. On the walls hung a few engravings, relics of the mother, who had known the glories of the old Opera in the Rue le Peletier; portraits of Vestris, Gardel, Dupont, Bigottini. But the room seemed a palace to the brats of the corps de ballet, who were lodged in common dressing-rooms where they spent their time singing, quarreling, smacking the dressers and hair-dressers and buying one another glasses of cassis, beer, or even rhum, until the callboy’s bell rang. Sorelli was very suspicious. She shuddered when she heard little Jammes speak of the ghost, called her a “silly little fool” and then, as she was the first to believe in ghosts in general, and the Opera ghost in particular, at once asked for details: “Have you seen him?” “As plainly as I see you now!” said little Jammes, whose legs were giving way beneath her, and she dropped with a moan into a chair. Thereupon little Giry—the girl with eyes black as sloes, hair black as ink, a swarthy complexion and a poor little skin stretched over poor little bones—little Giry added: “If that’s the ghost, he’s very ugly!” “Oh, yes!” cried the chorus of ballet-girls. And they all began to talk together. The ghost had appeared to them in the shape of a gentleman in dress-clothes, who had suddenly stood before them in the passage, without their knowing where he came from. He seemed to have come straight through the wall. “Pooh!” said one of them, who had more or less kept her head. “You see the ghost everywhere!” And it was true. For several months, there had been nothing discussed at the Opera but this ghost in dress-clothes who stalked about the building, from top to bottom, like a shadow, who spoke to nobody, to whom nobody dared speak and who vanished as soon as he was seen, no one knowing how or where. As became a real ghost, he made no noise in walking. People began by laughing and making fun of this specter dressed like a man of fashion or an undertaker; but the ghost legend soon swelled to enormous proportions among the corps de ballet. All the girls pretended to have met this supernatural being more or less often. And those who laughed the loudest were not the most at ease. When he did not show himself, he betrayed his presence or his passing by accident, comic or serious, for which the general superstition held him responsible. Had any one met with a fall, or suffered a practical joke at the hands of one of the other girls, or lost a powderpuff, it was at once the fault of the ghost, of the Opera ghost. After all, who had seen him? You meet so many men in dress-clothes at the Opera who are not ghosts. But this dress-suit had a peculiarity of its own. It covered a skeleton. At least, so the ballet-girls said. And, of course, it had a death’s head. Was all this serious? The truth is that the idea of the skeleton came from the description of the ghost given by Joseph Buquet, the chief scene-shifter, who had really seen the ghost. He had run up against the ghost on the little staircase, by the footlights, which leads to “the cellars.” He had seen him for a second—for the ghost had fled—and to any one who cared to listen to him he said: “He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man’s skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white, but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can’t see it side-face; and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at. All the hair he has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind his ears.” This chief scene-shifter was a serious, sober, steady man, very slow at imagining things. His words were received with interest and amazement; and soon there were other people to say that they too had met a man in dress-clothes with a death’s head on his shoulders. Sensible men who had wind of the story began by saying that Joseph Buquet had been the victim of a joke played by one of his assistants. And then, one after the other, there came a series of incidents so curious and so inexplicable that the very shrewdest people began to feel uneasy. For instance, a fireman is a brave fellow! He fears nothing, least of all fire! Well, the fireman in question, who had gone to make a round of inspection in the cellars and who, it seems, had ventured a little farther than usual, suddenly reappeared on the stage, pale, scared, trembling, with his eyes starting out of his head, and practically fainted in the arms of the proud mother of little Jammes.* And why? Because he had seen coming toward him, at the level of his head, but without a body attached to it, a head of fire! And, as I said, a fireman is not afraid of fire. The fireman’s name was Pampin. The corps de ballet was flung into consternation. At first sight, this fiery head in no way corresponded with Joseph Buquet’s description of the ghost. But the young ladies soon persuaded themselves that the ghost had several heads, which he changed about as he pleased. And, of course, they at once imagined that they were in the greatest danger. Once a fireman did not hesitate to faint, leaders and front-row and back-row girls alike had plenty of excuses for the fright that made them quicken their pace when passing some dark corner or ill-lighted corridor. Sorelli herself, on the day after the adventure of the fireman, placed a horse-shoe on the table in front of the stage-door-keeper’s box, which every one who entered the Opera otherwise than as a spectator must touch before setting foot on the first tread of the staircase. This horse-shoe was not invented by me—any more than any other part of this story, alas!—and may still be seen on the table in the passage outside the stage-door-keeper’s box, when you enter the Opera through the court known as the Cour de l’Administration. To return to the evening in question. “It’s the ghost!” little Jammes had cried. An agonizing silence now reigned in the dressing-room. Nothing was heard but the hard breathing of the girls. At last, Jammes, flinging herself upon the farthest corner of the wall, with every mark of real terror on her face, whispered: “Listen!” *I have the anecdote, which is quite authentic, from M. Pedro Gailhard himself, the late manager of the Opera. Everybody seemed to hear a rustling outside the door. There was no sound of footsteps. It was like light silk sliding over the panel. Then it stopped. Sorelli tried to show more pluck than the others. She went up to the door and, in a quavering voice, asked: “Who’s there?” But nobody answered. Then feeling all eyes upon her, watching her last movement, she made an effort to show courage, and said very loudly: “Is there any one behind the door?” “Oh, yes, yes! Of course there is!” cried that little dried plum of a Meg Giry, heroically holding Sorelli back by her gauze skirt. “Whatever you do, don’t open the door! Oh, Lord, don’t open the door!” But Sorelli, armed with a dagger that never left her, turned the key and drew back the door, while the ballet-girls retreated to the inner dressing-room and Meg Giry sighed: “Mother! Mother!” Sorelli looked into the passage bravely. It was empty; a gas-flame, in its glass prison, cast a red and suspicious light into the surrounding darkness, without succeeding in dispelling it. And the dancer slammed the door again, with a deep sigh. “No,” she said, “there is no one there.” “Still, we saw him!” Jammes declared, returning with timid little steps to her place beside Sorelli. “He must be somewhere prowling about. I shan’t go back to dress. We had better all go down to the foyer together, at once, for the ‘speech,’ and we will come up again together.”

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Perennial; Revised ed. edition (December 30, 1987)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0060809248
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0060809249
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 910L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 3.53 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.14 x 4.38 x 0.85 inches
  • #3,031 in Gothic Fiction
  • #19,614 in Classic Literature & Fiction
  • #37,767 in Literary Fiction (Books)

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About the authors

Gaston leroux.

Gaston Leroux (1868-1927) was a French writer best known for his novel The Phantom of the Opera. Born in Paris, Leroux initially worked as a critic and court reporter for the newspapers L'Écho de Paris and Le Matin. In 1918 he formed a film company called the Société des Cinéromans. After quitting journalism to focus on writing fiction, Leroux went on to publish dozens of novels. He died at his home in Nice, France.

Leslie S. Klinger

Leslie S. Klinger is considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on those icons of the Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Frankenstein. He is the editor of the three-volume collection of the short stories and novels, THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES, published by W. W. Norton in 2004 and 2005, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Work and nominated for every other major award in the mystery genre. THE NEW ANNOTATED DRACULA, published by W. W. Norton in 2008, offers a similar in-depth examination of Bram Stoker's haunting classic and its historical context. It received a starred review in Publishers' Weekly.

Since the 1960s, the study of the rich fantastic literature of the Victorian writers has been Klinger's consuming passion. He has written dozens of articles on Sherlockiana, published 20 books on Sherlock Holmes in addition to the Norton work, and regularly teaches UCLA Extension courses on "Sherlock Holmes and His World" and "Dracula and His World." Klinger's Sherlock Holmes Reference Library has been called by the Baker Street Journal "the standard text of reference for all serious Sherlockians." He contributed essays to Playboy Magazine and the Times of London on vampires and served as the technical adviser for Warner Bros. on the "Sherlock Holmes" films starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.

Klinger has edited several anthologies of stories relating to Holmes, vampires, horror, and Victorian fiction, including "In the Shadow of Dracula" and "In the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes" for IDW Books and "In the Shadow of Edgar Allen Poe" for Pegasus Books. He has also co-edited with Laurie R. King four anthologies of new stories about Sherlock Holmes, "A Study in Sherlock," the Anthony-winning "In the Company of Sherlock Holmes," "Echoes of Sherlock Holmes," and "For the Sake of the Game." The four-volume "The Annotated Sandman" in collaboration with Neil Gaiman for DC Entertainment appeared in 2012-14, and his "Watchmen: Annotated Edition" was published by DC Entertainment in 2017. Also in 2017, his "New Annotated Frankenstein," published by W. W. Norton, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Klinger's "The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft," shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award, appeared in 2014, and a second volume, "New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft: Beyond the Mythos" will be published by Norton in 2019.

Klinger and co-editor Laura Caldwell just completed "ANATOMY OF INNOCENCE: TESTIMONIES OF THE WRONGFULLY CONVICTED," published by Liveright Publishing/W. W. Norton in 2017. This harrowing anthology pairs exonerees with major mystery/thriller writers to tell their tales of despair, hope, and courage. A nonprofit project, proceeds from the book benefit innocence projects.

In 2018, Klinger published "Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s," a massive annotated collection of five novels, including the first Charlie Chan mystery, the first Ellery Queen mystery, the first Philo Vance mystery, Dashiell Hammett's first novel, and "Little Caesar," the first gangster novel. The book was awarded the Edgar for Best Critical/Biographical and is nominated for several other awards.

Later in 2019, Neil Gaiman's "Annotated American Gods," edited with notes by Klinger, will appear from William Morrow.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Klinger received an AB in English from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a JD from Boalt Hall (School of Law, U.C. Berkeley). Since then, he has lived in Los Angeles, pursuing a legal career in tax, estate, and business planning. Klinger is a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the Horror Writers Association, and the Mystery Writers of America. He served for three years as the chapter president of the SoCal Chapter of MWA and on its National Board of Directors, and he is the Treasurer of the Horror Writers Association.

the phantom of the opera is a novel

Wendi Zwaduk

Wendi Zwaduk is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to BDSM and LGBTQ themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on and other websites. She also writes under the name of Megan Slayer.

When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. Find out more about Wendi at:

the phantom of the opera is a novel

Paper Mill Press

Paper Mill Press is proud to present a timeless collection of unabridged literary classics to a twenty-first century audience. Each original master work is reimagined into a sophisticated yet modern format with custom suede-like metallic foiled covers.

the phantom of the opera is a novel

Eric J. Guignard

Eric J. Guignard has twice won the Bram Stoker Award (the highest literary award of horror fiction), won the Shirley Jackson Award, and been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and International Thriller Writers Award for his works of dark and speculative fiction. He has over 100 stories and non-fiction author credits appearing in publications around the world; has edited multiple anthologies (including the current series, The Horror Writers Association’s HAUNTED LIBRARY OF HORROR CLASSICS, through SourceBooks, with co-editor Leslie S. Klinger); and has created an ongoing series of author primers championing modern masters of the dark and macabre, EXPLORING DARK SHORT FICTION through his press, Dark Moon Books. He is also publisher and acquisitions editor for the renowned +HORROR LIBRARY+ anthology series. His latest books are LAST CASE AT A BAGGAGE AUCTION; DOORWAYS TO THE DEADEYE; and short story collection THAT WHICH GROWS WILD: 16 TALES OF DARK FICTION (Cemetery Dance). Visit Eric at:, his blog:, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

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the phantom of the opera is a novel

The Phantom of the Opera (Book)

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Phantom of the Opera Cover

The original book cover

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (English: The Phantom of the Opera ) is a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux . It was first published as a serialisation in "Le Gaulois" from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century; it is overshadowed by the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical. Originally produced for the West End, The Phantom of the Opera musical is the longest running Broadway show in history, despite the show's closure, and it is one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

  • 2 Characters in the Novel
  • 3 Insistance of the Existence of Erik by Leroux
  • 4 Translations
  • 5 Illustrations
  • 6 Adaptations

The novel opens with a prologue in which Gaston Leroux claims that Erik, the "Phantom of the Opera", was a real person.

We are then introduced to Christine Daaé. She and her father, a famous fiddler, traveled all over Sweden playing folk and religious music. Her father was known to be the best wedding fiddler in the land. When Christine is six, her mother dies and her father is brought to rural France by a patron, Professor Valerius.

During Christine's childhood, which is described retrospectively in the early chapters of the book, her father tells her many stories featuring an 'Angel of Music', who, like a muse, is the personification of musical inspiration. Christine meets and befriends the young Raoul, Viscount of Chagny, who also enjoys her father's many stories. One of Christine and Raoul's favourite stories is one of Little Lotte, a girl with golden hair and blue eyes who is visited by the Angel of Music and possesses a heavenly voice.

On his deathbed, Christine's father tells her that from Heaven, he will send the Angel of Music to her. Christine now lives with Mamma Valerius, the elderly widow of her father's benefactor.

Christine is eventually given a position in the chorus at the Paris Opera House (Opera Populaire). Not long after she arrives there, she begins hearing a beautiful, unearthly voice which sings to her and speaks to her. She believes this must be the Angel of Music and asks him if he is. The Voice agrees and offers to teach her "a little bit of heaven's music." The Voice, however, belongs to Erik, a disfigured genius who was one of the contractors who built the opera and who secretly built into the cellars a home for himself. He is the Opera ghost ("Fantôme" in French can be translated as both "ghost" and "phantom") who has been extorting money from the Opera's management for many years. Unknown to Christine, at least at first, he falls in love with her.

With the help of the Voice, Christine triumphs at the gala on the night of the old managers' retirement. Her old childhood friend Raoul hears her and remembers his love for her. A time after the gala, the Paris Opera performs Faust, with the prima donna Carlotta playing the lead. In response to a refused surrender of Box Five to the Opera Ghost, Carlotta loses her voice and the chandelier overhead plummets into the audience.

After the chandelier crashes, Erik kidnaps Christine to his home in the cellars and reveals his true identity. He plans to keep her there only a few days, hoping she will come to love him, and Christine begins to find herself attracted to her abductor. But she causes Erik to change his plans when she unmasks him and, to the horror of both, beholds his face. Furious, he lets her know of his despair and love. Fearing that she will leave him, he decides to keep her with him forever, but after two weeks, when Christine requests release, he agrees, on condition that she would wear his ring and be faithful to him.

Up on the roof of the Opera, Christine tells Raoul of Erik taking her to the cellars. Raoul promises to take Christine away where Erik can never find her and to take her even if she resists. Raoul tells Christine he shall act on his promise the following day, to which Christine agrees, but she pities Erik and will not go until she has sung for him one last time. The two leave. But neither is aware that Erik has been listening to their conversation or that it has driven him to jealous frenzy. During the week and that night Erik has been terrorizing anyone who stood in his way, or in the way of Christine's career, including the managers.

The following night, Erik kidnaps Christine during a production of Faust. Back in the cellars, Erik tries to force Christine into marrying him. If she refuses, he threatens, he will destroy the entire Opera using explosives he has planted in the cellars, killing everyone in it, including himself and Christine. Christine continues to refuse, until she realizes that Raoul and an old acquaintance of Erik's known only as "The Persian," in an attempt to rescue her, have been trapped in Erik's torture chamber. To save them and the people above, Christine agrees to marry Erik and kisses him. Erik rescues the Persian and the young Raoul from his torture chamber thereafter. Erik, who admits that he has never before in his life received a kiss — not even from his own mother — is overcome with emotion. He lets Christine go and tells her "go and marry the boy whenever you wish," explaining, "I know you love him." They cry together, and then she leaves. The Persian, being an old acquaintance, is told of all these secrets by Erik himself, and on his express request, the Persian advertises in the newspaper about Erik's death.

Characters in the Novel [ ]

Erik/The Phantom (also known as the Angel of Music)

Christine Daaé

Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny

The Persian

Madame Giry

Joseph Buquet

Insistance of the Existence of Erik by Leroux [ ]

Throughout the book, Leroux insists that the ghost or man, dubbed Erik, was indeed real. From his introductory, he begins to state that everything within the book was factual. Indeed, it was even upon his deathbed that he made a final plea to the world that Erik was a true figure in history.

Translations [ ]

There are currently 5 English translations of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra . The first English translation, by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos in 1911, though it sometimes omits entire paragraphs or chapters, is still the most widespread version of the book. Due to its being the first English translation (and the only one up until 1990), publishers may assume that it is unabridged, and so will republish it as a "complete and unabridged" or "original" version, unknowingly misleading those who purchase these copies. Unless a copy credits a particular translator, it is likely to be the Teixeira de Mattos translation. Currently, four other English translations are in circulation: a 1990 edition by Lowell Bair; 'The essential phantom of the opera : The definitive, annotated edition of Leroux’s classical novel', edited by Leonard Wolf, published in 1996; another, by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, published in 2004; and a completely new translation by Mireille Ribière published in 2009 to coincide with the centenary of the first publication

Illustrations [ ]

The original Frod book publication of 1910 was illustrated with five oil paintings by André Castaigne. The paintings served as an inspiration for the 1925 film, and have appeared in many subsequent reprintings and translations.

Adaptations [ ]

There have been numerous literary and dramatic works based on The Phantom of the Opera, ranging from musicals to films to children's books. The best known stage and screen adaptations of the novel are probably the 1925 silent film version starring Lon Chaney, Sr. and the 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical , which first opened in London's West End with Michael Crawford in the title role, Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae, and Steve Barton as Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny. This musical was adapted into a 2004 film , directed by Joel Schumacher. It starred Gerard Butler as Erik, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daae, and Patrick Wilson as Raoul. Brian DePalma wrote and directed a 1974 film called Phantom of the Paradise , which was loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera.,cmm-wkkk/Aaveeopy8Pjaltmm]od vhg Mpgrc *Bmoi)

  • 1 Christine Daaé
  • 2 Erik (The Phantom of the Opera)
  • 3 Madame Giry


Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a beautiful, classic novel that has an extremely compelling story. The book is about a Parisian opera house that is “haunted” by a mysterious and alluring phantom. The phantom falls in love with soprano Christine Daaè which causes a ton of trouble for the opera house. It is a story about romance, obsession, suspense and mystery. The book was extremely interesting and thought provoking. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of classic literature or the Broadway musical. The story does go more into depth in Christine’s childhood and the phantom’s backstory. I also enjoyed the psychological suspense aspect of the story as well. This book was very detailed and at some points extremely complicated, which made that story even more interesting. There were some boring parts, but most of the time the book kept me engaged. This book is a somewhat hard book because of it’s old fashioned style of writing that may not appeal to the younger reader. There is no swearing in this novel. Overall, I would recommend this to an older teen who has an interest in Broadway based stories.


The Phantom of the Opera

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Front cover of a 1920 French edition of the novel.

The Phantom of the Opera (French: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra ) is a novel by the French author Gaston Leroux . It was first published in book form in 1910, having originally been published as a serial in the newspaper Le Gaulois between September 23, 1909 and January 8, 1910. The first English translation of the novel was published in 1911. The Phantom of the Opera was out of print for much of the 20th century but was adapted numerous times during that period. The best known adaptations are the 1925 silent movie which stars Lon Chaney as the Phantom and the 1986 Andrew Lloyd-Webber stage musical.

The Phantom of the title is an extremely talented but hideously ugly man who hides his ugliness beneath a mask and calls himself Erik. Erik lives beneath the Paris Opera House and is able to move freely around the building because he is believed by most people who work in the theater to be a ghost that haunts it. Erik does not appear to know the difference between right and wrong and is prepared to use extortion, intimidation and murder to get what he wants.

The novel deals primarily with Erik's relationship with Christine Daae, a beautiful and talented young opera singer with whom the Phantom falls in love.

  • 2 Adaptations
  • 4 External links


Tomasz Sleciuk appears as the Phantom of the Opera in Warsaw, Poland on October 30, 2008.

The Phantom of the Opera opens with an introduction that says that the ghostly goings at the Paris Opera House in the 1880s are well known but that the Phantom responsible for them was not a ghost but a flesh and blood person. The novel then moves on to tell the life story of Christine Daae. Christine, the daughter of a talented violinist, is born in Sweden but moves to rural France when she is six. She meets and befriends Raoul, a boy from an aristocratic family. The two children enjoy hearing stories about the Angel of Music from Christine's father. While she is still a little girl, Christine's father dies. He promises on his deathbed to send the Angel of Music from heaven to help his daughter.

Christine eventually finds work at the Paris Opera House. Soon after her arrival, she starts to hear a voice that sings and speaks to her. When Christine asks the voice if it is the Angel of Music, it tells Christine that it is and offers to teach her some heavenly music. The voice is really that of Erik, the Phantom of the Opera. With Erik's help, Christine's voice improves. She sings at a gala performance and is a great success. Raoul, now the Viscount of Chagny, is in the audience and remembers his love for Christine.

For many years the Phantom has been extorting money from the Opera House management and demanding that box number five be left free for him at all times, he threatens severe consequences if his demands are not met. Two new managers have recently taken control of the Opera House and refuse to give in to the demands of a ghost. As a result, La Carlotta the prima donna appears to croak like a toad during a performance (the sound is really coming from Erik who considers himself to be the greatest ventriloquist in the world) before a chandelier comes crashing down into the audience. The Phantom abducts Christine during the chaos that ensues.


Lon Chaney as the Phantom in the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera .

Erik tells Christine that he was her Angel of Music. His initial plan is to keep the young woman with him for a few weeks, in the hope that she will fall in love with him during that time. Christine finds herself becoming attracted to the Phantom but everything changes when she takes off his mask and sees that he has a face like a rotting corpse. Erik is furious and yells that Christine probably thinks that his face is another mask. Christine is forced to touch his face so that she will know it is real. Erik decides to make Christine stay with him forever but allows her to leave after two weeks, providing that she wears his ring and promises to remain faithful to him.

Christine tells Raoul of her unpleasant experiences. He says that he will take her far away, where the Phantom will never find her. However, Christine feels sorry for Erik and wants to sing on stage for him one last time. She does not know that Erik was listening to her conversation with Raoul and has become madly jealous. He abducts Christine again, demanding that she become his wife. He tells her that he has hidden explosives beneath the Opera House and will blow up the building, killing everyone inside, if she refuses to marry him.

A turbaned man, known to everyone in the Opera House as the Persian, approaches Raoul. He explains that he was a police inspector in his own country and that Erik is an old adversary of his. Raoul and the Persian set off to rescue Christine from Erik's underground lair but are captured and imprisoned in a torture chamber.

When Christine learns that Raoul and the Persian have been taken prisoner by the Phantom, she agrees to marry him on the condition that he frees them. Erik lifts his mask to kiss Christine's forehead. He is moved to tears when Christine kisses him back. He says that he has never been kissed by anyone before, not even his own mother. He allows Christine to leave and advises her to marry Raoul.

Erik visits the Persian and says that he will never bother anybody ever again. Three weeks later a Parisian newspaper carries an announcement that simply reads, "Erik is dead".

Adaptations [ ]

Phantom of the opera 1925 poster

Poster for the 1925 silent movie version of The Phantom of the Opera .

Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera has been adapted numerous times for the stage, film, radio and television. Other authors have written novels that serve as prequels or sequels to Leroux's story and provide a more detailed backstory for some of its characters. Some adaptations have played up the horror aspects of the novel, others have placed more emphasis on music or romance.

In 1925 Universal Pictures released a silent movie version of The Phantom of the Opera , directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney as Erik. A detailed copy of the Paris Opera House was built for the movie. The silent movie's plot follows that of Leroux's novel quite closely but it is given a more dramatic ending. After the release of Raoul and the police inspector (not a Persian in this version), Erik abducts Christine again and leaves with her in a stolen carriage. An angry mob follows them. They drag Erik from the carriage, beat him to death and throw his body into the river Seine. Largely as a result of the success of The Phantom of the Opera , Universal continued to make many more horror movies throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1931), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1931) and H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man (1933).


Lobby card for the 1943 film Phantom of the Opera starring Claude Raines,

The Phantom of the Opera was remade in color by Universal in 1943. The set built for the 1925 version was used again for the remake. The Phantom in the 1943 version (played by Claude Rains) is originally a violinist at the Paris Opera House named Erique Claudin. After twenty years, Claudin is forced to leave his job as a result of pains in his hands which are affecting his ability to play. He is running out of cash because he has secretly been paying for Christine DuBois' singing lessons for several years. In order to earn some money, Claudin takes a concerto that he has written to a publisher. When he visits the publisher again, Claudin is told that his concerto has been lost. Hearing his music coming from another room, Claudin, wrongly believing that the publisher has stolen his work, attacks and kills him. The publisher's female assistant comes in and throws acid in Claudin's face. In Gaston Leroux's novel, Erik is hideously ugly from birth. The 1942 movie is the first adaptation to introduce the concept of acid disfiguring the Phantom's face, now a standard component of the Phantom of the Opera legend.

1963 - Towne Theater Last Normal Ad - 6 Jan MC - Allentown PA

January 6, 1963 advertisement for the 1962 British film The Phantom of the Opera , showing at the Towne movie theater in Allentown, Pennsylvania as part of a triple bill.

Hammer Film Productions, the British film company famous for its horror movies made between the 1950s and 1970s, including several based around the characters of Count Dracula and Victor Frankenstein and three different movie versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , released an adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera in 1962. The movie was directed by Terence Fisher and stars Herbert Lom as the Phantom. The action is moved from 19th century Paris to Victorian London. The Phantom is originally a music teacher called Professor Petrie. He approaches Lord Ambrose D'Arcy for help in getting his music published but the aristocrat tries to pass Petrie's music off as his own. Petrie breaks into the printers that is publishing his music under Lord D'Arcy's name to burn every copy. A fire starts, Petrie throws what he thinks is water, but is really acid, on the fire, Some acid splashes back in his face and scars him. He runs out of the burning building and jumps into the river Thames. The river carries him to a cavern beneath the opera house where a nameless mute dwarf cares for him. The Phantom in the 1962 movie is supposed to be an entirely sympathetic character. He does not kill anybody, the dwarf assistant, who the Phantom says he has difficulty controlling, carries out all of the murders. The Phantom's entire face is covered by a gray mask which leaves only one eye visible in the Hammer version. His face, which is revealed shortly before the end of the movie, is not as ugly as his mask.

Brian De Palma's 1974 movie Phantom of the Paradise is a loose adaptation of the novel, updated to the world of 1970s pop music, which also references Oscar Wilde 's The Picture of Dorian Gray . Singer and composer Winslow Leech is cheated and framed for drug dealing by record producer Swan. Leech escapes from prison and breaks into Swan's studio, where an accident with a record press leaves him with a disfigured face and without the ability to speak. The masked Leech terrorizes customers and staff at Swan's nightclub The Paradise, until Swan, who is revealed to have sold his soul to the Devil so that photographs of him age while he remains young, offers to make a deal with him.

Pedro Pomares como el Fantasma de la Ópera

Pedro Pomares as the Phantom in a 2016 performance of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical in Spain.

Robert Englund stars as the Phantom in a 1989 movie version of The Phantom of the Opera directed by Dwight H. Little. A supernatural element is introduced into the story, in which the Phantom, Erik Dessler, sells his soul to the Devil to become a famous composer. Dessler is told by the Devil that people will love him for his music but only for his music and he immediately becomes horribly disfigured. The movie begins in present-day New York where an aspiring Broadway singer named Christine Day sings some of Erik Dessler's music at an audition. A sandbag hits her on the head and she wakes up in Victorian London. Christine returns to the present at the end of the movie and finds Erik Dessler, wearing a prosthetic face, still alive.

The 1986 musical, with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and book by Lloyd-Webber, Charlie Hart and Richard Stilgoe, is the most successful stage adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera . It has been performed in one hundred and forty-nine cities in twenty-five countries, is the longest running Broadway production in history and the second longest running production in the history of London's West End. It won an Olivier Award in London in 1986 and a Tony Award in New York in 1988. A movie based on the musical, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom, was released in 2004.

See also [ ]

  • Video of the 1925 silent movie The Phantom of the Opera

External links [ ]

  • Text of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux in French and English on Wikisource.
  • Free public domain audiobook of The Phantom of the Opera from LibriVox.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (title) on the Internet Movie Database.
  • Phantom of the Opera Wiki
  • There is an article about the The Phantom of the Opera on the Halloween Wiki .
  • 1 The Fall of the House of Usher
  • 2 The Judge's House
  • 3 Operation Napoleon


The Phantom of the Opera

58 pages • 1 hour read

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  • Prologue-Chapter 4
  • Chapters 5-8
  • Chapters 9-12
  • Chapters 13-17
  • Chapters 18-21
  • Chapter 22-Epilogue
  • Character Analysis
  • Symbols & Motifs
  • Important Quotes
  • Essay Topics

Summary and Study Guide

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a Gothic mystery novel first published serially in 1910. The novel follows a “ghost” who haunts the Paris Opera and the mysterious incidents attributed to this figure. The characters and the narrator himself try to uncover the secret of this ghost, who is really a masked man infatuated opera singer, Christine Daaé . The novel has been adapted into several formats, most notably a 1925 silent film directed by Rupert Julien and a 1986 musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. A 2004 film adaptation of this musical directed by Joel Schumacher was nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. This guide follows Arcturus Publishing Limited’s paperback edition, published in 2021. This edition uses Alexander Teixera de Mattos’ translation.

Plot Summary

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The Prologue opens with the narrative’s frame: The narrator says they will explain the mysterious incidents at the Opera House through the existence of the "Opera Ghost". His investigation proves that this phantom was really a man with an incredible talent for illusions. By tracing the ghost’s life and movements, the narrator says they can explain the disappearances, deaths, and accidents that occurred 30 years prior.

The story itself begins on the night of the Opera’s gala performance where Christine Daaé unexpectedly dazzles the audience . Many young dancers claim to see the Opera Ghost lurking about, and when they hear news of stagehand Joseph Buquet's sudden death, they fear the ghost has struck. The retiring managers Poligny and Debienne relay the ghost's demands and threats to the new managers Moncharmin and Richard, who think the Opera employees are playing an elaborate joke. The managers soon receive their own demands from the Opera Ghost.

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Viscount Raoul de Chagny , who has been in love with Christine since childhood, visits her after the miraculous performance, but she pretends to not remember him. Raoul overhears a man's voice congratulating Christine in her dressing room and thinks she is in love with someone else. Raoul follows Christine to Perros, the seaside town where they spent a year of their childhood together. Christine thinks she has been visited by the heavenly Angel of Music , and this mysterious figure plays violin for her in the graveyard, where Christine visits her father’s tomb. Raoul discovers the Angel is a man in a mask and worries Christine is being taken advantage of.

Back in Paris, the managers ignore the ghost's demands and even act in direct opposition to them. Soon, disaster strikes. The opera star, La Carlotta , croaks onstage during a show, the men hear the ghost's voice taunting them, the chandelier crashes into the audience, and Christine disappears. After many days, Raoul finally meets Christine at a masked ball where he confronts her about the Angel of Music. She refuses to explain and runs away to her dressing room. Raoul, in hiding, hears the Angel's voice calling to Christine, and as if by magic, Christine vanishes through her mirror.

Later, Christine and Raoul play at being engaged and she agrees to explain her strange behavior. The Angel of Music is a man named Erik who hides his face because of its extreme scarring. Erik taught Christine to sing again, and on the night of the opera’s chandelier accident, he took her to his underground house. Christine is afraid to run away but afraid to go back to the monster in the cellars. The night Raoul promises to take Christine away, she vanishes again in the middle of her performance. Meanwhile, the managers slowly go insane, as their attempts to uncover the truth of the ghost only prove his existence further.

The police dismiss Raoul's story about the ghost man, but the Persian—a retired police chief who knows Erik—believes and helps him. They go through the revolving mirror in Christine's dressing room and descend into the cellars of the Opera where they encounter frightening figures. They try to sneak into Erik's house, but accidentally drop into his torture chamber. In the adjacent room, Erik forces Christine to answer his marriage proposal by the following night. Erik illuminates the torture chamber and disorients Raoul and the Persian to madness. Five minutes before Christine’s deadline, Raoul and the Persian discover a cellar full of explosives. Erik intends to blow up the entire Opera if Christine rejects him.

Christine agrees to the marriage and pleads with Erik to spare Raoul and the Persian. Raoul and the Persian pass out from exhaustion in the torture chamber and the Persian awakens to find themselves in a sitting room with Christine and Erik. Erik mixes a draft for the Persian, who falls asleep again and finds himself back in his own room upon waking. Erik, dying of love, later visits the Persian to share that he freed Christine and Raoul after he finally experienced love's happiness. Erik dies shortly after. The narrator share's Erik's tragic history of rejection in the Epilogue, asking the audience to pity and forgive the unfortunate man.

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the phantom of the opera is a novel

Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.

Gillian Russo

The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.

Compoer   Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the  Phantom book and musical are set.

Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired  The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.

Experience these tales now before  The Phantom of the Opera  closes on Broadway.

Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.

Is  The Phantom of the Opera  based on a true story?

Yes and no — the plot of  The Phantom of the Opera  is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.

Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera  closes. 

The chandelier crash in Phantom  was inspired by a true event. 

The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.

One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.

phantom 750-nytg

The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.

Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the  Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.

Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...

The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.

The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.

Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera  novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.

Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.

Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story. 

Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.

What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.

He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.

The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend. 

One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned  ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.

Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.

Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00


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