Synopses & Reviews
A smash hit in London, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera
could justifiably be called one of the most successful musicals of all time even before its arrival on Broadway. Yet the story of the Phantom has been captivating the imaginations of audiences for over one hundred years. Based on the chilling yet heartrending classic novel by Gaston Leroux, Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of the tale is a gem in an already glittering setting. This lavishly illustrated, definitive account traces the Phantom legend from its origins in historical fact, through numerous artistic incarnations, to the present day.
The story begins with the building of the Paris Opera in 1861. Originally designed by the architect Charles Garnier as a monument to Napoleon III's Second Empire, its construction was hindered by the Franco-Prussian war and its aftermath, when its empty shell was used as an arsenal and military prison. It was not until 1875 that the grand building was finally inaugurated, signalling the beginning of a glorious era of high living and cultural elegance, soon to be known as La Belle Epoque.
George Perry relates how the novelist Gaston Leroux, on visiting the Opera when it was under construction, was so intrigued by the chilling atmosphere that he felt compelled to write what was to become a masterpiece of horror fiction of its day, The Phantom of the Opera. Using superb archival illustrations, many previously unpublished, this splendid book documents the secret areas of the Opera that fired Leroux's imagination, such as the real subterranean lake that lies beneath the huge stage and auditorium, and its many hidden cellars and labyrinthine passages.
The dramatic possibilities of the novel have inspired numerous directors, both on stage and in film. The 1925 silent film directed by Rupert Julian, featuring a masterful performance by Lon Chaney, is still compelling more than half a century after its release, and still attracts enthusiastic audiences. That version of the story, along with numerous other films about the Phantom, are all described and illustrated here.
In the triumphant staging of the musical Phantom in London and on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber has developed the original story and previous interpretations into the ultimate theatrical experience. Its particular blend of inspired wizardry has been to coordinate a wide range of theatrical talents, from director Hal Princeand designer Maria Björnson, to the magnificent cast headed by Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Through interviews with the leading lights of the production, George Perry reveals the intricacies of the production machinery and the process of creating startling special effects, paying tribute to the professionalism and creativity of the many people who have contributed to the remarkable success of Phantom of the Opera. The book includes the complete libretto and many specially commissioned color photographs of the stage production.
"Introductory material covers the Paris Opera House, Leroux, the original novel, and its various film versions. The book's plum is the show's libretto, which, even devoid of its evocative score, is the finest adaptation to date of Leroux's original idea. A memento of a highly creative musical." Library Journal
This is the lavishly illustrated, definitive account of The Phantom of the Opera
, tracing the Phantom legend from its origins in historical fact through Gaston Leroux's heartrending classic novel and other artistic incarnations to the present day and Andrew Lloyd Webber's incredibly successful musical.