The Phantom of the Opera is a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux. First published in 1909, it continues to win audiences over with the musical adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the refreshed scenery and Victorian costumes and the direction of Harold Prince.
For those unfamiliar, the novel tells the story of Christine Daa whose mother dies when she is 6 and whose father entertains her and her childhood friend the young Raoul, Viscount of Chagny, with stories of the 'Angel of Music,' who, like a muse, is the personification of musical inspiration. On his deathbed, Christine's father tells her that he will send the Angel of Music to her.
In time, Christine eventually is given a position in the chorus at the Paris Opera House. Not long after her arrival she begins hearing a beautiful, unearthly voice which sings to her and speaks to her. Believing him to be the Angel of Music she asks him if he will teach her. The Voice agrees.
However unknown to Christine, the voice belongs to Erik, the Opera ghost, who has been extorting money from the Opera's management for years. Erik is a deformed genius who was one of the contractors who built the opera and who secretly built a home for himself in the cellar.
With the help of the Voice, Christine triumphs at the gala night of the Opera House. Her old childhood friend Raoul hears her and remembers his love for her.
In response to a refused surrender of Box Five, the Phantom causes Carlotta the prima donna to lose her voice and the chandelier to plummet into the audience. After the crashes, Erik, who has fallen in love with Christine, kidnaps Christine and takes her to his cellars and reveals his true identity.
He plans to keep her there 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.
There doesnt seem to be a better Christine than Trista Moldovan who performed the role in the national tour. While many actresses play Christine as a more passive leading role, Moldovan acted out the part, making the Phantoms big Music of the Night solo a fascinating moment for her character, visibly toying with feelings of desire and disgust.
Christines graveyard song to her dead father, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, was a vocal highlight. Also standing out in a flawless cast were Sean MacLaughlin as a manly Raoul and Michele McConnell as the in-charge diva Carlotta.
Hugh Panaros Phantom was at times vocally uneven in comparison to Michael Crawfords interpretation of the role yet I must admit that Phantom is a gorgeous, deeply felt piece of musical theater that deserves to live forever. But dont take my word for it see for yourself.
Carmen Ileana Romn writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.