I’ve never seen Phantom of the Opera on stage or as a filmed performance, but I have seen the Lon Cheney film of this novel. And that film, like this novel, is an accidentally hilarious (though very entertaining!) melodrama.
But at the same time, it’s drama does not fare too terribly well in 2019 awareness of gender relations, that’s for sure.
So here’s what’s pretty funny:
The Phantom calls himself in my translation as the “Opera Ghost” and signs all his notes as “OG”. He also blackmails the theater owners, and it’s a kind of funny thing. He’s calling himself a ghost and what does every ghost need? An allowance.
The novel also spends a lot of time having people just talking about the ghost. What’s the ghost look like? Have you seen the ghost? What do you think the ghost’s name is? Do you think the ghost is hot?
Also the book has some truly fuckboi characters, the ghost not least of all.
So the ghost basically tells Christine that he loves and he’ll die if she doesn’t love him back. When it turns out that she’s been kidnapped and blackmailed and extorted…the man who “loves” her calls her a whore and threatens to kill himself because his feelings are so hurt. Also he’s known her for about a week.
What’s interesting to me about this book is that its melodrama feels much much older than its publication date of 1910 and its setting of the 1880s in Paris. This is the same time period (publishing and setting) as Colette’s The Vagabond, also about the theater in which sexual politics are more much free-wheeling and liberal.