The Phantom of The Opera

Ridley: We’ve been to the musical, Phantom of the Opera. Both Latimer and I went to see this in the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin (now renamed the Bord Gais Theatre, though everyone refuses to call it that!)

Latimer: It’s a real shame that the theatre was renamed, because the ‘Grand Canal’ makes it sound very opulent and grand, but the Bord Gais (‘Gas board’ in Irish.. because the Irish Gas Board sponsor it now) makes it cringe-worthy. 

Ridley: It was really fantastic going though, name choice aside! I don’t often go to the theatre, but when I do go, I always wonder why I don’t do it more often, as I feel quite cultured! 🙂 The costumes were so vibrant, the set design was clever and the music just swept you along. If you ever get a chance to see this in theatres, go, you won’t be disappointed! Your eyes will just want to drink it all in!

Latimer: Myself and Ridley went to see Lord of the Rings, the soundtrack score in this theatre (‘Grand Canal’ at that point). I remember complaining that the seating was bad (we were about three rows from the front). And the layout felt very cramped.

But this time I was sitting on the upper circle and it was pretty fantastic. I recommend that seating area now! I went with my Mam and Aunt, and my Aunt has been to this theatre lots of times and she knows what seats to book now.

Ha. I suppose it’s trial and error.

And in introducing my Aunt, I introduce an old, old fact from the Grand Canal’s medieval past- a detour through time now if you will!

Outside the theatre, there are many red poles (as you see above).

Ridley, did you ponder, what these meant? I didn’t give them a second thought, only thinking; ‘oh, some arty poles’.

Ridley: I have asked before ‘what’s with the red sticks’ but no one ever knows! I’m sensing you do…

Latimer: Ah, my Aunt told me that they mean something…

There’s a street opposite the theatre called Forbes Street. And in medieval Dublin this was were the lepers were sectioned (it was known as ‘Misery Hill’).

The red poles are symbolic of the saying, ‘I would not touch them with a barge pole’ in reference to the lepers.

Very eerie now in that respect eh?

By night the poles are lit. The above picture is them after the show was finished!

Well now… back to the Phantom! I agree that the set-design was fantabulous! My god I couldn’t get over it. Ridley, please, explain the story if you will…

Ridley: Well, most people know the story of Phantom of the Opera. For those that don’t, it’s basically a tragic love story. The phantom is a deformed man, a ghost who lives in the depths of a theatre. He falls in the love with the young and beautiful Christine Daaé. He watches her from the shadows and teaches her to sing without revealing himself. She believes he is her Angel of Music, a being from heaven sent by her father to watch over her. It is the phantom that arranges for Christine to get her first big break in the theatre. He bullies and forces the owners to feature her as their star. While she is singing as the lead in the play, her childhood friend Raoul sees her and they reconnect. Thus begins the dangerous love triangle, where Christine must decide between her old friend and her Angel of Music.

The 2004 movie with Gerard Butler is the version that I know best. Not a bad version of the phantom to love, Gerard Butler, eh? Teehee. It’s a bit like Doctor Who, everyone has their favourite Doctor and everyone has their favourite phantom! Gerard is mine! (I also have the soundtrack from this version of the Phantom of the Opera and I play it often. It’s really beautiful.)

Now, I’ve always thought Christine should have chosen the phantom over Raoul. My view on this has never changed, no matter how many times I’ve seen the musical-either in the theatre or in the cinema. Raoul’s affections always seemed so fleeting and shallow. He only remembers his love for her when he hears her singing at the opera-after she’s become the lead performer. Whereas the phantom has loved her all this time, helping her and protecting her…

Dramatic, mysterious, passionate and powerful, that is what the phantom is for me. I’ve always found myself drawn to him. I suppose I’ve always liked the bad boy, the evil genius. The phantom had the swirling black cape, a mask framing eyes that captivated and a hidden lair that he filled with haunting music. At the same time, he was damaged and vulnerable in some ways. Raoul was always pathetic compared to him. He also certainly didn’t get the massive swells of music from the organ at his sudden appearance.

With regards to Christine, I don’t think I’ve ever liked her as a character. On one hand, I can understand that she’d be terrified of the phantom, having been suddenly kidnapped by him. He is quite menacing. But I can’t seem to shake the soft spot I have for him, despite being a kidnapper and a murderer (I seemed to have glossed over this part in past versions, I’d forgotten about it but I was abruptly reminded he killed a stage hand, when I watched the musical in the theatre the other day! The sympathy I feel for the phantom is certainly diminished when I take this into account, so I generally have to forget this happens!)

I think that Christine uses the phantom. She preys on his vulnerable side, the side that has never seen friendship or love. He’s had only hatred, disgust and fear thrown at him. Without him, her career wouldn’t have progressed as far as it did, nor would she have been able to sing like she does. She plays on his affections for her and then betrays him in the end.

Latimer: Actually watching it all again, in this form, I can understand her not loving the Phantom though. Because he wasn’t sympathic and he was pretty ruthless. I remember in the movie thinking, ah she should have picked the Phantom (I was annoyed that she didn’t to be honest!).

Yet in this musical version (possibly the real version- aside from the book!), I felt it was all mixed up, I didn’t like the Phantom. The characters I really liked were the two men who buy the theatre at the start. I found them funny and enjoyable (light-hearted among the grimness). My Aunt saw it in London and said that this Dublin version has been cut down alot, so we missed out on some backstory etc

Ridley: The funny thing is that all changes in the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which I never realised existed! It’s called Love Never Dies, and I have some major problems with it. (Spoiler alert here)

Latimer: This is beyond ridiculous…!

Ten years after the events of Phantom of the Opera, the phantom tricks Christine and Raoul into coming to New York, where he wants to hear Christine sing once again (I’d like to point out, his love for her still hasn’t faded!) Christine has a son, Gustave. It turns out that this is the phantom’s son! (My jaw dropped at this! Latimer: what the Dicken’s? haha, this is just so bad!) Never, not once is there ever any hint that Christine and the phantom were in anyway intimate in the musical or the films. Perhaps this occurs in the book? (which i’ll admit I haven’t read, so i’m very open to being corrected on this) Not only this, through the phantom’s scheming, he convinces Raoul to leave Christine, which he does-without any fighting to save their marriage! Then suddenly it seems Christine has always loved the phantom and she finally stops fighting against this love. Based on the musicals I’ve seen, I would have always said she’d felt nothing but pity and disgust for him. Perhaps at most, she had an affection for her Angel of Music, but no this undying love. 

Latimer: She found this false, undying love very quickly, considering how she left things in the Opera house in Phantom of the Opera. I’m still shaking my head at this. It was obviously fabricated in light of creating another cash cow.

Incidentally, he’s (the Phantom) running a theme park in Coney Island when we meet him again in ‘Love Never Dies’. And it’s called Phantasma… oh my…. oh my… 

Ridley: Well, also, the other final thing I have a problem with is when Gustave finds out the phantom is his father. He decides to stay and join him at the theme park in New York, instead of following after Raoul when he leaves. Raoul is the man he’s known all his life, the one he’s always considered his father and yet he wanders off with this random stranger instead? What? Would that really happen? I don’t think so! Hmm…

All the same, despite all my nit-picking and wish to change the ending, I still love the story! I think there are quite a number of people out there that love it too, or am I wrong? 🙂

Latimer: While I really enjoyed my trip to the theatre and also, the set design and experience of the musical was just amazing, I don’t actually like the story of Phantom of the Opera.

But still, it was a nice night! Also, random that we both attended separately, but we have joined together, like bubbles caught in an updraft to write this post. After-which we’ll pop, likely never to speak of it again! Ha 🙂

Ridley: Yes…bubbles…..  *pop*   😀

20 thoughts on “The Phantom of The Opera

  1. I saw it many many years ago in Hamburg and loved it when the burning candles came up out of the stage 🙂 .. glad you enjoyed

  2. I read the book and I’ve seen the movie(2004 version) and I completely agree with you on the part that Christine should have chosen Erik(the phantom) over Raoul. The movie was good since it had Gerard Butler playing the phantom. And as for Christine, she’s not as unspoiled and innocent as she is claimed to be….furthermore, butler’s “he was bound to love you, when he saw you sing………….this is how you repay me; deny me and betray me…” explains how shallow they both were…only the phantom had any real feelings it would seem….and his eccentricities were justified…born with so much genius and cursed into hiding, any man would lose his head…..
    I have also read the sequel “Phantom in Manhattan” where as you mentioned it is revealed that he had a son! sounded incredulous to me! And Raoul could not have any children of his own, and from the goodness of his heart married Christine when she revealed she was with child!! Besides, the sequel was vague and odd and in no way matches up to it’s predecessor….

    1. Completely agree!! It seemed only the phantom had any real feelings! Love that quote from Butler phantom! (he was brilliant in that movie, wasn’t he?)
      And I never was a fan of Christine, her character was hard to like, kind of delighted to hear (read!) you say she wasn’t as unspoiled and innocent as she tried to appear! 🙂 I really should get round to reading the book! (not the sequel, we can all pretend that doesn’t exist! Haha)
      Thanks a million for your great comment by the by!!

    2. That sounds like a loelvy date… How great it would be to see the Phantom of the Opera live… I just rented the new movie of it, and it was very good. But my hubby does *NOT* like musicals, and so I was on my own watching it, which is just as well, as I bawled through half of it I think!LOL! The last date we had was our anniversary back in March. We went to a fav. restaurant in Pigeon Forge, TN, and did the touristy thing all day… it was nice. But we need another one soooon! We usually like to just go places we can talk alot, without interruptions, like out to dinner… And then we’ll often find ourselves browsing book stores together, or antique stores, and comparing finds.

      1. I love the idea of you browsing book stores together, it seems really romantic for some reason!

        It’s always fun to do touristy things in your own area, that was a brilliant idea for a date, you’ll spend time together, while learning interesting things about your home town/city too!
        If you do ever get a chance to go see the Phantom of the Opera live, definitely take it, the music alone is fantastic!
        Thanks for your comment by the way!! 🙂

    1. Apologises Le Clown, such a review can not happen as Phantom of Paradise is too strange for my mind to handle! 🙂
      I might add the phantom in it is like a cross between Jaws from James Bond and a Cyberman from Dr Who! Impressive combination!
      Where ever did you discover it?

    1. Ah brilliant! Tell us the type of things you’d like to see and we’ll give you tips on where to go if you’d like them! 🙂 Are you going to places other than Dublin? If you get a chance, do!

      1. No, not this time. We are going with a group of friends… I know they want to do a pub crawl and see the sights… I got a question… Any nice tea shops, where I can buy tea to bring back to Norway?

        1. There are a few, here’s a link with maps:

          Clement & Pekoe is just off Grafton Street, which is in the city centre.
          Joy of Cha is Temple bar, again city centre, near enough to Grafton street, but I’ve never been there, so I can’t comment on whether it’s good! Don’t think you can buy tea, it seems very small too.
          The Tea Garden is city centre, along the Quays, very strange place, it has a small bamboo fence, you climb down a narrow stone winding stairs which goes down under street level until you’re in a cave-like basement area. Very relaxing but you can’t really buy tea there to take away as such…
          ‘House of Tea’ and ‘Wall and Keogh’ are in areas that aren’t exactly city centre. You can get a bus and the LUAS (the tram line) to them. If you’re interested in those in particular I can look up times/stops for you etc!
          Wall and Keogh and Clement & Pekoe are the ones you’re looking for I’d say. Here’s some reviews and pictures:

          Don’t bother with Queen of Tarts, overpriced and not that impressive!
          The best tea (that we all drink here) is Lyons, which you can buy in any normal supermarket/corner shop! 🙂

          1. Wow… thanks for the info. I’ve been to Dublin before, so I can find my way around (somewhat) I’ll check out these places and let you know what I think. I may even do another tea post. Any other touristy things that aren’t in the travel book you can think of I’d appreciate hearing of…

          2. Honestly, we’ve been trying to think of other out of the way touristy things, but there’s nothing really that comes to mind that isn’t in all the guidebooks! George’s street arcade is the only place possibly, that’s just off Georges street. Nice little place. They’ve little arty stalls and a great ‘yoghism’ place where you can get frozen yoghurt and then choose from loads of different toppings. Burdocks in the Christchurch area makes the best fish and chips in the city. If you like your old school chippers! Great crispy bits! Other than that, I couldn’t really think of anything! Sorry Maggie! Also, all the museums are closed on Mondays for some reason! Just so you’re not caught on the hop if you plan to do them then!

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