Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

An Experience: The Phantom of the Opera

An Experience: The Phantom of the Opera

If you have read my previous blog from last week (which you can find here if you want to check it out), I finally had the opportunity to watch the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It’s one of the longest-running West End shows, from 1986 to the present time. 

A quick summary rundown of the plot for readers who haven’t heard of Phantom: it is a story of Christine Daaé, a young ingenue, who becomes the obsession of a disfigured and murderous musical genius known as the Phantom, who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. Nonetheless, Christine rekindles with her childhood friend and soon-to-be lover, Raoul, whom the Phantom gets incredibly jealous of. 


I first heard of Phantom of the Opera when I was 14, which was when I first moved to England. We were passing by Her Majesty’s Theatre and I saw it. I wondered what it was about but with the synopsis so brief, my pea-sized brain couldn’t understand it. (Looking back now, I don’t understand why I had difficulty in grasping the concept of it.) Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to watch the musical and yes, while I was made aware of the film adaptation and book, I chose to not mess with those until I’ve watched the stage production. Which was unlike me, as I usually read the book first since it fills in a lot of blank spaces. So you can imagine the slight confusion I had while watching the play. 


Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed the musical. I enjoyed it so much that I have purchased the book and have watched the 2004 film adaptation of it, starring Gerard Butler (I didn’t know he can sing!) and Emmy Rossum. I am yet to watch the 25th Anniversary performance of Sierra and Ramin at the Royal Albert Hall, which was released in 2011. Phantom of the Opera is that type of musical where it’s hard to forget… I know it wasn’t too long ago when I watched it, but it imprints in you. The soundtrack was amazing – my favourite ones were probably ‘Angel of Music’ and ‘No Point of Return.’ The overall experience watching it was thrilling, it makes you hold your breath as the actress hits every note effortlessly. The props and the costumes were whimsical, the crystals shining through as the spotlight points at them or the colourful palettes they had at the dress rehearsal of Hannibal. Or the way the Phantom’s baritone or Christine’s soprano send chills down your spine and make the hairs on your neck stand up. 

We sat at the far left corner of the Royal Circle, quite near the boxes by the stage, therefore we were quite close – enough to feel the emotions emitted by the actors and actresses, and the way their voices vibrated through the walls and floors added tenfold to the intensity. 

Now that I had quite the fixation on this musical play, it wasn’t enough and I needed more. Therefore, I had saved up a list of to-be-read books that are Phantom-inspired. First on the list is… 

  1. A Phantom Enchantment by Eve Marie Mont 

Evie Marie Mont had reimagined classic literature with a modern young-adult focused bent. The Phantom Enchantment is, you guessed it, a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera with a twist. 

It revolves around Emma Townsend, who is in her senior year in Paris and reading Leroux’s famous novel, but she begins to see flickering images in the mirror that sits in her room. After her boyfriend goes missing, she sees the mysterious man in her dreams, leading her to the strange underworld beyond the mirror.

  1. Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine 

Sarah Fine’s take on Phantom is a steampunk-inspired version of industrial China instead of an opera. Wen works with her father at a brutal slaughterhouse. Everyone makes an offer to the ghost who supposedly haunts the factory, but Wen doesn’t believe in the spirit until an impulsively-made wish comes true. 

When she finds herself allied with the Noor, an ethnic group brought to the factory as cheap labour, she discovers that the ghost is very real and has been watching her for a while. 

  1. The Phantom’s Apprentice by Heather Webb

Other Phantom rewrites touch on Erik as a straight-up villain. In Heather Webb’s The Phantom’s Apprentice, Christine is a trainee opera singer, but she’s also an aspiring illusionist. This is where her interest in the Phantom starts. Erik, however, is manipulative and unhinged, and an overall danger to everyone. Especially Christine. For all #TeamRaoul, this is for y’all. 

  1. Phantom by Susan Kay 

Susan Kay’s Phantom – people either love it or hate it. There’s no in-between. Others would say it’s one of the worst, if not the worst of the worst, but others would consider it as a modern classic. Either way, Phantom is the crown jewel of literary Phantom of the Opera re-imaginings. Kay unravels the origin story of Erik, from his birth leading up to the events of Leroux’s book, and follows him as he becomes a master musician who can never overcome the shame of his deformity.

Overall, I hope you enjoyed today’s blog and I’ll see you again next Wednesday!

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