The Phantom of the Opera

Album: The Phantom of the Opera (1986)
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  • This song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical follows the title character's obsession with a beautiful young soprano at the Paris Opera House, where his deformity forces him to skulk in the shadows and hide behind a mask. The lyrics, written by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, reflect how he woos her with his otherworldly voice and haunts her dreams.
  • Running for over 25 years, The Phantom Of The Opera is one of the most popular musical productions of all time, but its literary predecessor didn't fare as well. The story by French author Gaston Leroux was originally published as a serialization in the Le Gaulois newspaper from September 1909 to January 1910 but did not draw much attention. Its low sales even forced it out of print several times until it was adapted for film in 1925. Taglined as "The Greatest Horror Film of Modern Cinema," it starred Lon Chaney in the title role and Mary Philbin as his love, Christine.
  • Not long after this song was released, Webber was sued by a songwriter named John Brett, who claimed that Webber copied his 1985 composition "Farewell Song." Webber vigorously denied the accusation. He said that his song was written before Brett's, and that he even supervised a demo recording of "Phantom" sung by Mike Batt and Sarah Brightman in 1984. Brett dropped the case in 1991, at which time Webber stated: "It was monstrous that this matter was allowed to run and run for over five years. I am delighted my name has been cleared."
  • In 2004, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote and produced his own version of Phantom for the big screen and picked Joel Schumacher, the brain behind the widely reviled Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, to direct. Webber said he chose Schumacher because he was impressed with his 1987 vampire flick The Lost Boys. He told Wild About Movies: "I thought it was extraordinary the way Joel used music with visuals. I thought that opening sequence, when you see the fairground, was genius."

    In his three-star review, Roger Ebert was kinder to the film than he was to the Broadway smash that inspired it. He wrote: "Schumacher has bravely taken aboard this dreck and made of it a movie I am pleased to have seen." The movie starred then-unknown Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum (At the first whispers of a possible film version years before, Michael Jackson lobbied hard for the title role and visited Webber several times).
  • Webber remembers picking up the novel at a book fair and being intrigued by the dark romance. He tells Piers Morgan: "I just wanted to write a high romance, and I thought this is high, Gothic stuff." When he started writing the music, he envisioned the title theme as "sort of a dark rock song."
  • This song was originally performed onstage by Sarah Brightman (Webber's wife at the time) and Michael Crawford, the first Christine and Erik/Phantom. It appears twice in the show - in Act I between "Angel of Music" and "Music of the Night," and in Act II at the end of "Notes/Twisted Every Way."
  • Webber came under fire for another alleged plagiarism when Pink Floyd's bassist and co-lead vocalist Roger Waters claimed he stole the riff to the band's 1971 song "Echoes." He told Q magazine: "Yeah, the beginning of that bloody 'Phantom' song is from 'Echoes.' DAAAA-da-da-da-da-da. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's the same time signature - it's 12/8 - and it's the same structure and it's the same notes and it's the same everything. Bastard. It probably is actionable. It really is! But I think that life's too long to bother with suing Andrew f--king Lloyd Webber."

    Waters did take a dig at Webber, though, in "It's a Miracle" from his 1992 solo album Amused to Death. He sang:

    "We cower in our shelters with our hands over our ears,
    Lloyd Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years.
    An earthquake hits the theater but the operetta lingers,
    Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his f--king fingers,
    It's a miracle…"
  • Rufus Wainwright borrowed the theme for the end of "Between My Legs" from his Release the Stars album in 2007.
  • Webber wrote a solo male version of this song for X Factor(UK) finalist Rhydian Roberts in 2007. Roberts wowed the judges with his performance and he eventually finished as runner-up to Leon Jackson.

Comments: 12

  • Megan from Stevenson, AlMy band played this as our opener for our halftime show last year! It was AMAZING! I love the movie too!!!
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvI love this play it's absolutly amazing! I think it's totaly brillant! I always feel really sorry for the Phantom though. I'm so obsessed with it that I know the entire 2ct act by heart.
  • Bryan Weers from Battle Creek, MiThe part of Christine was written for Webber's then wife(and the person who played her in the London cast) Sarah Brightman
  • Rachel from Minneapolis, MnI love Phantom of the Opera! It is a good musical, with classic music. ALW does a wonderful job, so screw the rest of you who think both are overrated. This is the best movie in the entire world, and I can't wait for it to come to MN 2009!!! I'm EXTREMELY EXCITED!!!
  • Dominic from San Francisco, CaThe Phantom of the Opera is my favorite musical. The movie's pretty good, but absolutely nothing beats the original 1986 London cast in my opinion.

    By the way, wake up, Bruno, Beethoven is very overrated. Not that he's not great. But you have to admit, he is a little overrated. I mean, one can tire of "dum-dum-dum-DUM" from his 5th.

    And yeah, ALW apparently did steal the tune, but I don't care. I lile ALW and Puccini. They're both great!
  • Chae from Chicago, IlI like how the melody is used over and over. :/
  • Luigi Camperchioli from Valley Village, CaWow, by calling Puccini's music "trash" you just showed how much you know about opera. or music in general for that matter.
  • Nicholas from Keller, TxI don't see you producing any operas with such universal success as Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, Manon Lescaut, or Turandot. Puccini isn't the most respected composer, but his melodies are some of the greatest ever written, part of the reason people are still talking about him, and not Bruno.
  • Bruno from Okemos, MiSo Mr. Lloyd Webber used Puccini as a "model"? It shouldn't surprised me. Both guys' music are overrated, sacharine, meretricious, syruppy and plain boring. [Maybe I'll give a few credits to "La Boheme" opera. But the rest is trash.] I know one composer of many who will kick Puccini and Lloyd Webber's pants: Ludwig van Beethoven. Enpugh said.
  • Michelle from Darlington, EnglandI love the new movie! And I love opera, so i really like this song! It's kinda of annoying sometimes when most of the songs are about passion and stuff like that though.
    Overall it's good!
  • Caitlin from Claremont, CaI extremely dislike this show. In fact, I extremely dislike Andrew Lloyd Webber altogether. I enjoy Evita from time to time, and Sunset Boulevard is good with a strong female lead, but ALW is SO overrated.

    Phantom of the Opera is one of the most unoriginal pieces of music I have ever heard. The songs are extremely repetitive and the main melody line is overused way mroe than is necessary. What's worst of all is that in the Phantom's song "Music of the Night", the entire melody is stolen from Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Fanciulla del West". Puccini is of course the composer behind "La Boheme" and "Turandot" among other operas. The estate of Giacomo Puccini actually sued "Sir" Andrew Lloyd Webber for this, but he managed to keep it out of the papers and settled out of court for a nice piece of cash. Puccini would have rolled over in his grave.

    This was nto the only time that ALW has stolen Puccini's music as pieces of music in "Cats" follow the same melodic line as pieces from Puccini's "Turandot".
  • Ranei from Ipswich, IrelandI love the movie.

    Love love love.

    Emphasis on Love.
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