Explanation of the Plot of "The Phantom of the Opera"

by June Farquhar
Scenes from

Scenes from "Phantom of the Opera" incorporate opera performances.

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"The Phantom of the Opera" has enthralled audiences for decades. It is a story that has been told and retold since Gaston Leroux first wrote the novel in 1910. The staging of the story in 2004 by Warner Brothers presented in film form the splendor and mystery of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version. Fans of the story and film often buy both the DVD and the soundtrack.


"The Phantom of the Opera" tells the story of a man, who is masked due to a facial disfigurement, living below the Paris Opera. He has been known to wander about the opera house, and people have come to call him the Phantom. The Phantom becomes enamored of a chorus girl and secretly trains her to improve her voice. She gets her big chance to sing a lead role and succeeds. The Phantom falls more in love with his protege after her stunning performance and soon becomes obsessive. The girl has a suitor, a wealthy man who was her childhood sweetheart. He suffers the consequences of the Phantom's obsession.


Leroux's story and the Lloyd Webber musical "The Phantom of the Opera" are set in 1870 Paris. In its film of the musical, Warner Brothers sought to bring out all the thrill and mystery of the era. The goal was to create a "heightened representation of the period," according to costume designer Alexandra Byrne, who worked on the production. The settings used, being operas, masquerade balls and ballets, are ideal for the type of extravagant wardrobe used. These events are huge with a large cast of characters, but there are also duet settings in which the mysterious Phantom is alone with his protege.

The Phantom

The Phantom is a musical genius who loves opera. His haunting of the opera house in Paris terrifies the artists and singers who work and live there. His protege, Christine, however, is not frightened of him, and the ballet mistress is aware that she is being trained by him. According to the story, one of the most frightening things about the Phantom is the mask he wears and the makeup he wears under it. However, in the 2004 film, the design of his costume and mask are meant to display to the audience his attractiveness, anger and vulnerability, according to Byrne, who did not intend that his disfigurement be depicted as horribly grotesque.

The Phantom's Protege

The Phantom's protege, a young chorus girl named Christine Daae, gets her chance to sing when the lead singer goes into a rage and walks out during rehearsal. She becomes the star and is courted by a wealthy patron of the theater, for whom she develops feelings. The romanticism of the film is increased by the fact that the young soprano is never dressed in drab clothes, but always in stage costumes.

About the Author

June Farquhar has been writing for newspapers and special publications in California since 1998. She's the recipient of a press club award for organizing and designing a 42-page "Red Ribbon Week" tabloid, which received recognition from the California State Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. Farquhar studied newspaper journalism at Bakersfield College.

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