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phantom of the opera mans face

The story behind the Phantom's mask

You might not recognize Rodney Gordon, but there’s no doubt you are familiar with his work.

“I never boasted about it, I think a lot of people didn’t even know that I did it that for years, they would just see something in the shop from that and say, oh you do that, I’ve always done that,” Gordon said.

Gordon is the milliner, maker of hats and headdresses, that has been crafting the Phantom’s mask on Broadway for 35 years. The mask itself was developed before it came to Broadway, designed by the show’s late scenic and costume designer Maria Bjornson, the mask brought over from London by the original Phantom, Michael Crawford. 

What You Need To Know

The symbol for "the phantom of the opera" since the beginning has been the mask not just the iconic one used in the ads and branding, but of course the one worn on stage by the actor playing the phantom roger clark has the story behind the mask, which has become synonymous with new york's famed theater district.

“They gave me one of his old ones for me to copy, and that’s how it started. We made a mold from that, and copied it, and then Maria over the years kept changing it and developing it,” he said.

Including hollowing out the cheek, refining nose, Gordon says Bjornson had asked the nose to look more like her own nose, and the eyebrow also changed.

“It originally didn’t have any kind of [a] raised eyebrow at all, it was just sort of a flat surface. But you can see the difference in the two eyebrows here. And I think the eyebrow changed five times?” he noted.

Gordon has fitted many a Phantom backstage at the Majestic Theatre to make a template for the mask, made from vacuum forming plastic, a leather lining inside, and a wire to make sure it stays on the actor during performances.

“Sometimes you just do it and it’s perfect and there’s no adjustments to it, it’s quick and easy and sometimes it’s not, it’s not working right, and sometimes it’s the person is not used to it or something is different about the mold,” he said.

Gordon says every Phantom received at least two masks when they were hired. Those sometimes need to be replaced because, like anything, they break from time-to-time.

“One got stuck, the wire got stuck in the light socket in the dressing room, you know the mirror sockets, and it blew out the lights and snapped the wire in two,” he said.

Gordon allowed Roger to try on one of the masks he has made over the years, which theatre fans have probably noticed is different from the iconic mask used in the musical’s ad campaigns and branding over the years. How did that happen?

“The poster it’s cut across here and it has both eyes. This is totally different. I don’t think the poster has eyebrows either,” he said.

Nick Pramik is co-founder of RPM, a live entertainment and arts ad agency that has worked on Phantom for about three and a half years, including during its relaunch from the pandemic shutdown.

“It was designed by a man named Anthony Pagieri who was a legendary theatrical ad guy, his agency was called Dewynters, based in London, they still work with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh on their shows, and that’s why the mask looks different than the one that the Phantom wears in the show, because it was designed even before the show was designed,” Pramik said.

Pramik says the mask is a rare gift for Broadway, one of the few images that immediately announces what the show is...

“The phantom mask as it’s used in advertising its such a rarity for a Broadway show because you don’t need anything else around it to understand exactly what it is, you don’t need the title of the show next to it, you don’t need a pithy tagline to go along with it, you just look at that mask and anyone in the world knows exactly what it is,” he added.

That mask helped launch a legendary brand like no other. This mask, Gordon says, led to a long and successful career designing on Broadway. Ironically, he mainly focused on operas.

“I certainly learned a lot on that show when I first did it. Like I said, I had worked on several broadway shows but not that large and not on my own. And it was a huge learning experience for me, but it was good,” he said.

And even though this historic run on Broadway is ending, there’s no doubt the mask will live on forever, as a symbol of this show, and the magic of theatre and Broadway.


Film School Rejects Logo

Unmasking the Death’s Head Reveal of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Phantom Reveal

Welcome to How’d They Do That? — a bi-monthly column that unpacks moments of movie magic and celebrates the technical wizards who pulled them off.

This entire column is based around the celebration of cinematic techniques that read as magic tricks. In this context: Lon Chaney Sr. is a veritable magician.

An Old Hollywood powerhouse known for his characterizations of unnerving individuals and mangled souls, Leonidas Chaney was born on April Fool’s Day in 1883 to two deaf parents. As Chaney himself explains in a rare interview in Movie Weekly , the unique circumstances of his upbringing meant that, for the actor, “gesture was always a thing of great significance.” A Silent Era performer, Chaney’s physical deftness resulted in emotionally rich, peerless performances that still resonate and shock almost a century later .

In addition to being one of the most evocative performers to ever grace the screen, Chaney was a pioneer of early cinematic special effects makeup. With few exceptions, his best-known characters experience some sort of disfigurement, and the actor took the execution of these mutilations into his own hands, often at the expense of his own comfort and safety (more on that later). From murderous madmen to misunderstood monsters, Chaney consistently elicits bi-tones of repulsion and empathy, curiosity and fear, horror and pity. Gnashing teeth, curling lips, flaring nostrils, his characters are always as upsetting as they are mesmerizing.

A big part of why Chaney’s creature designs are so affecting is because, as horror director Jennifer Kent articulates in an interview with Mountain Xpress : “You can see that it’s a person’s face. It’s just a face that’s been distorted — without CGI obviously — but manipulated so that it looks human, but almost not.” Nowhere else is Chaney’s unique quality of “human, but almost not” more evident than in the disfigured ghoul of 1925’s Phantom of the Opera , one of Chaney’s most impressive make-up jobs, if not certainly his most famous one.

The unmasking of the titular Phantom is one of the most well-known moments in silent film. Arguably, it’s one of the most horrifying images ever put on screen. As the mysterious Eric sits at his organ, our captured heroine Christine loosens his mask. As contemporary reviewer Carl Sandburg puts it: “Her fingers give one final twitch — and there you are!”

The reveal: a defacement more horrifying than any other cinematic iteration of the infamous Opera Ghost to date. His nose is an upturned chip, his mouth a mangled mess, his eyes threatening to pop. It’s hard to wrap your head around: how can that thing be human? This furious, menacing, despair-filled creature? Part command, part challenge, the Phantom shrieks:  “Feast your eyes, glut your soul, on my accursed ugliness!”

With pleasure.

How’d they do that?

Long story short:.

By mangling Lon Chaney’s face with wires. Plus some good old fashioned contouring.

Long story long:

In a rare statement on his craft, Chaney explained, as cited by film historian Scott MacQueen in the October 1989 edition of American Cinematographer : “I’m supposed to have evolved some magic process of malforming my features and limbs. It’s an art, not magic…I achieved the Death’s head of that role without wearing a mask.”

Indeed, to pull off the ghoulish look of the Phantom, Chaney undertook a variety of creative if woefully self-harming illusory techniques.

To become a living skull, Chaney raised the contours of his cheekbones with cotton and collodion, a very flammable and syrupy solution of pyroxylin mixed in alcohol that creates the appearance of scarred skin when dried. He flattened (possibly glued) his ears to his head, adding to the skull look. An exaggerated skullcap was used to elevate Chaney’s forehead by several inches, accentuating the bald dome of the Phantom’s skull, draped by flat-pressed wisps of stringy black hair. Pencil lines were used not only to exaggerate the natural creases of Chaney’s brow but also to hide the lip of his bald cap.

Phantom Of The Opera

Phantom Of The Opera (1925)

In the same quote cited in the American Cinematographer article, Chaney continues: “it was the use of paints in the right shades and the right places — not the obvious parts of the face — which gave the complete illusion of horror. My experiments as a stage manager, which were wide and varied before I jumped into films, taught me much about lighting effects on the actor’s face and the minor tricks of deception. It’s all a matter of combining paints and lights to form the right illusion.”

Taking the color palette of André Castaigne’s illustrations as his reference, Chaney painted his outer eye black, adding stark white highlights around the periphery to emphasize the skeletal effect and suggest the transition from bone to sockets.  The Phantom’s toothy grin was accomplished by attaching prongs (yes prongs) to a serrated, rotting pair of false teeth; creating a gnarled grin with a mouth held wide by design. Chaney further distorted his lips and shaded his face with greasepaint.

The nose is the worst part. Chaney applied putty to sharpen the angle and inserted two loops of wire into his nostrils (which were themselves darkened with black eyeliner) to make a skeletal shape. Extra wires concealed under putty and the skullcap were attached to Chaney’s nose, yanking the actor’s nostrils upward.

There are some who have stated that in certain shots Chaney manipulated his nose with spirit gum and fish skin . But given that the reports have been contested and imitations have not been successful, we must take these claims with a grain of salt.

There is also a dangerous myth floating about that Chaney put egg membranes in his eyes to give them a cloudy look. This rumor appears to be a combination of two facts: Chaney messing his sight up with the false eye cover from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and the white-out cosmetic contact lens he had personally created for 1926’s Road to Mandalay ( one of the first full-eye scleral white glass contact lenses made for theatrical use ). In any case, the egg membrane tidbit is likely an exaggeration if not an outright falsehood .

And really, who needs to exaggerate when it comes to Chaney? “He suffered, you know,” recalls Phantom’ s director of photography, Charles Van Enger , as cited by the ever-giving American Cinematography . “Sometimes [Chaney’s nose] would bleed like hell. We never stopped shooting. He would suffer with it.”

What’s the precedent?

This was still early days in cinema history, so when we’re talking about the innovative shenanigans on display in Phantom of the Opera , the only real precedent in Hollywood was Chaney himself.

In the aforementioned interview in Movie Weekly , Chaney explains: “Most of my roles have carried the theme of self-sacrifice or renunciation. These are the stories I wish to do.” Self-sacrifice was certainly the name of the game when it came to Chaney’s approach to make-up.

Two years before Phantom of the Opera , Chaney designed an affecting but physically-demanding guise for Quasimodo in Hunchback : fitting himself with an external glass eye, a 20-pound plaster hump, and a painful harness that fixed his shoulder to his hip to achieve the desired effect. With humble innovations and the spirit of Occam’s Razor, you can’t discount the impact of Chaney’s make up kit (a fisherman’s tackle box, today a part of the collection at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles ).

Hunchback Chaney

‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (1923)

That said, without fail, the best creature performances are the ones where the actor wears the makeup rather than the makeup wearing the actor. Doug Jones ( Pan’s Labyrinth, Hell Boy, Star Trek: Discovery ) is the highest-profile example of a modern performer who can play creature effects like an instrument. Like Chaney, Jones’ embodiment and the makeup he wears consistently come together for performances that are more than the sum of their parts. Andy Serkis is another great example of this, though the added twist of digital space and all the post-production collaboration that entails, is a wrinkle best smoothed out some other time.

It would be easy (and delightful) to sit here all day listing evocative makeup performances (Jeff Goldblum in The Fly …Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde …Warwick Davis in everything…). But, ultimately, Chaney brings something unparalleled to the table: the man did his own goddamn makeup.

The impact of this bespoke quality is elusive but you can’t help but feel it when you watch Chaney perform. He had an intimate knowledge of his own body, both as an actor and as a makeup artist. He knew its abilities, its limitations, and how to weaponize both through the use of self-designed, tailor-made practical effects. The result is up there on the screen, in creatures like the Phantom who to this day remain unparalleled in both their spectacle and their sympathy.

Related Topics: How'd They Do That? , Phantom of the Opera , Special Effects

phantom of the opera mans face

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phantom of the opera mans face

The Many Masks of the Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom’s mask always looks so perfect, you wonder why every iteration of Christine Daae instantly wants to tear it off. You’d think that one version of her across all the countless spin-offs and adaptations would think “Hey, Erik, that’s a good look for you.” But no, by the time the end of the story rolls around the mask has been not only been removed from Erik’s face, but discarded completely.

So, before Miss Daae arrives to throw all of these masks into the Seine, let’s take a look at the various versions the Phantom has worn throughout his tenure at the Paris Opera House. From books, TV, animation, to the stage, he’s got a closet full of these things. We’ll look solely at his Phantom mask, so the Masque of the Red Death will have to sit this one out. Tune your singing voice, grab a flintlock and a violin, and let’s go down the catacombs.

1. Original Novel Mask – 1909-1910

Phantom of the Opera Book comparison

In the original novel, Erik’s mask is black and covers his entire face. The first edition of the book featured watercolor illustrations by Andre Castaigne, but only the Phantom’s disfigured face was featured. The mask wasn’t depicted until the 1920 French edition, where it’s shown on the cover art as a domino-style facemask that makes him look like a scary version of Zorro.

The cover art was reimagined for the 2011 Centennial Edition, which made the mask more in line with recent depictions.

2. Lon Chaney’s Phantom Mask – 1925

Lon Chaney Phantom Mask

Out of all the adaptations, Lon Chaney’s Phantom makeup from Universal’s silent film is still regarded as the most faithful to the book. The mask is another story. It’s a 3/4 mask that sports some killer eyebrows and a small duster flap hanging from the bottom. He also wears a Middle-Eastern style cap, which reflects the character’s past travels to Persia in the novel.

3. Claude Rains’ Phantom Mask – 1943

Claude Rains Phantom Mask

If you’ve ever wondered what the Phantom would look like if he was seasick, look no further than the greenish-hued mask of Claude Rains. In the second version produced by Universal, the Phantom terrorizes the opera in a mask that is more designer than Chaney’s, with some decidedly angrier eyebrows.

4. Operetta Ghosts – 1960

Tin Tan Phantom Mask

In the little-seen Mexican comedy The Phantom of the Operetta , several perpetrators dress in identical masks and costumes to terrorize an opera house. With the hat and hair combo, the mask looks rather like the Quaker Oats guy in a bad mood.

5. Herbert Lom’s Phantom Mask – 1962

Herbert Lom Phantom Mask

If Leatherface had a musically inclined cousin, this is probably how he’d dress. The Hammer Horror Phantom appears to be into DIY crafts, since this mask has a semi-homemade look that makes it one of the most disturbing iterations. It covers his entire face, with a sewn-in patch that covers his useless left eye.

6. Leslie Nielsen’s Phantom Mask – 1971

Leslie Neilson Phantom Mask

Leslie Nielsen played the Phantom in a comic segment from an episode of Night Gallery . In his four minutes of terror, Nielsen’s Phantom wears a mask meant to be an homage to Lon Chaney’s.

His labored breathing makes him suck in the duster flap that hangs from the bottom and also prevents him from blowing out a candle. It has some rosier cheeks than Chaney’s mask and no eyebrows, so it’s probably the closest to a porcelain doll of Frank Drebin that we’ll ever get.

7. Phantom of the Paradise – 1973

Phantom of the Paradise Mask

Transpose a 19th century opera story into a 1970s rock opera and you’re going to get one funky looking Phantom mask. The Phantom of the Paradise dons a face covering that is more like a helmet, giving a mashup of gothic-sci-fi-ish flair to his musical shenanigans. Black lipstick helps, too.

8. The Phantom of Hollywood Mask – 1974

The Phantom of Hollywood Mask

Phantoms come in many shapes, and this one comes dressed as a punk medieval executioner. This mask hides a deformed actor who picks off the people who plan to sell his beloved movie studio backlot, using a disguise reminiscent of something from the cover of a Goosebumps book.

9. Maximilian Schell Phantom Masks – 1983

Maximilian Schell Phantom Mask

Another TV movie adaptation introduces two different Phantom masks. The first one would make a great monster makeup if we can get Rick Baker out of retirement to make it. The second is creepily life-like and sends you sprawling into uncanny valley.

10. Michael Crawford Phantom Mask – 1986 Musical

Michael Crawford Mask

The mask that took home the Olivier Award. This one is worn by the Phantom in the most famous stage version of the story, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is where the mask first took on it’s vertical “half-face” shape, apparently because Michael Crawford noticed that he couldn’t properly convey the Phantom’s emotions onstage while wearing the traditional half-mask.

11. Animated Phantom Mask – 1987

Animated Phantom Mask

Judging from the animated version of the mask, Erik has possibly grown tired of not being able to grow a cool mustache like Raoul, so he just drew one on instead.

12. Robert Englund’s Phantom – 1989

Robert Englund Mask

In a Phantom of the Opera meets The Silence of the Lambs spin, Robert Englund’s Phantom wears a mask made of prosthetics that are made to look like human flesh. This disguises his disfigured face under a “normal” face. Like taking of your makeup before going to bed, the Phantom slowly peels off his face-facemask in a scene that would send Tom Savini into unbounded euphoria.

13. The Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge – 1989

Phantom of the Mall Mask

For a strange update on the Phantom, the shape of the mask actually manages to be unique. It wraps around Eric’s (spelled with a “c” this time) face in a half-circle shape, providing the missing link between the previous half-masks and vertical half-masks. This Phantom also trades in his Middle-Eastern caps and slouch hats for a baseball cap, so you know it’s a home run (I’ll show myself out).

14. Charles Dance Phantom Mask – 1990

Charles Dance Phantom of the Opera Masks

Tywin Lannister himself has suited up as the Phantom, in one of (if not the only) iteration where the Opera Ghost’s deformed face is never revealed. His mask goes the Batman route, covering his face with a small cutout for the mouth. A second, black version is briefly worn, along with a harlequin-inspired mask that makes our Phantom resemble a DC Comics villain.

15. Richard White Phantom Mask – 1991

Richard White Phantom Mask

Honestly, this one scares me more than the Robert Englund face-peeling routine. We always knew the Phantom was a tragic and very emotional character, but to give us a visual depiction of his sorrow as bloody tears is pretty gut-wrenching. This is one of several worn by White in the 1991 musical Phantom .

16. David Staller Phantom Mask – 1991

David Staller Phantom Mask

A metallic version? Sure, let’s do it. It seems like a strange choice at first, but then it hits you that this is the mask you did not realize you were waiting for. When watching this TV movie version, I have to remind myself that it is not a Doctor Doom origin story.

17. Phantom on of the Opera on Ice Mask – 1995

Phantom on Ice Mask

Yes, they put the Phantom on ice. They also gave him another metallic mask. This is probably the most ornate mask he’s ever worn, with intricate details and a cheek plate that fits underneath his left eye. Even Christine would hesitate from pulling this one off his face, since you’d be wary of leaving fingerprints on such a nicely polished garment.

18. Phantom of the Megaplex Mask – 2000

Phantom of the Multiplex mask

This Phantom appears to have stocked up on the holiday merch, sporting a mask that you’d swear you see every year at Spirit Halloween.

19. Gerard Butler’s Phantom Masks – 2004

Gerard Butler Phantom Mask

Gerard Butler’s Phantom is probably the least scarred of all the Angels of Music. His mask is therefore smaller and more rounded than the 1986 musical version that it’s based on, most likely due to the filmmakers wanting to cover as little of their good-looking leading man as possible. If you know anyone who’s creating their own DIY Phantom mask, it’s usually this one. The Phantom also dons a black mask that’s more in line with the 1920 book cover art. It’s this one that’s torn off his face by the ever-eager Christine.

20. A Monster in Paris Mask – 2011

A Monster in Paris Mask

Every giant, blue, singing flea needs a mask. This computer animated Phantom goes for a sharp-pointed nose and cheek-plates, with a white suit combo that I wish we could see one day in a live-action film (It’d be a great fit for an adaptation set in the 1930s. The Shadow vs. The Phantom of the Opera , anyone?)

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Masked Man Hugh Panaro on His 20-Year History in The Phantom of the Opera

Only a dozen men have played the title role in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera , and now Phantom #10, fan favorite Hugh Panaro, is headed back for his third engagement as the man behind the mask. Actually, it’s Panaro’s fourth stint in Broadway’s longest-running show—he first took the stage at the Majestic Theatre 20 years ago as Christine’s true love, Raoul. Since his most recent run as master of the Music of the Night in 2005, Panaro has starred in the short-lived Broadway musical Lestat as well as in regional productions of Sunday in the Park with George, Company and more. A few days before rejoining Phantom opposite tour vet Sara Jean Ford as Christine, a cheerful Panaro chatted with about the show’s enduring appeal, what’s up with the Lestat cast album and why he can’t consider hitting the road in Next to Normal with his close friend and former Side Show co-star Alice Ripley. You have an amazing 20-year history with The Phantom of the Opera . It is amazing, and I’m so happy about going back into the show. I told the stage managers that I’m as excited as I was in 1990 when Hal Prince cast me as Raoul. Really? What makes you so excited this time around? I think I have a lot more to bring to the role now than five years ago. A fan sent me a pirated tape of my last performance, and I listened to myself pretty objectively. There were things I didn’t remember doing, and things I thought I could do better now, especially going in with a new Christine—we have the opportunity to create something fresh and exciting. Believe it or not, Sara Jean Ford and I had just done South Pacific together in concert with the Rochester Symphony. We were joking about the fact that we had both been in Phantom and saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun to do the show together someday?” A couple of months later, here we are. I think the universe was at work. You were considered a young Phantom in 1999, but you’re now the age [46] that most of us picture the character to be. I love that. There’s so much father-figure imagery in the role—the Phantom uses the fact that Christine’s father has recently passed away to manipulate her. When I was playing Raoul, Mark Jacoby was the Phantom. He was about 44, definitely a man and not a boy. [Original star] Michael Crawford was not a spring chicken when he did this. I recently re-watched him at the Lincoln Center library [video archive]. I love to go back to the creator of a role—not that you want to copy someone, but to see what the original show looked like so you can maintain the integrity of Hal Prince’s vision. People think that Michael Crawford did a lot of dramatic hand movements and spooky gestures, and I was really surprised when I watched him. He was very minimalist in his approach, and it was a great lesson. Let’s get real for a second—isn’t Raoul a thankless part? I never felt that way. I swear! I loved playing Raoul. In fact, back then, when people would say, “Don’t you want to play the Phantom?” I would say no. I need someone to make a list of roles for me, because a lot of the roles I’ve done are ones I never would have thought of for myself. I’ve got to give Hal Prince credit: After I played Ravenal in Show Boat for him in London, he asked me in ’99 if I would play the Phantom. Of course I said yes, but it wasn’t something I was campaigning for. The same thing happened with Bobby in [Sondheim's] Company at the Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle. I had never set my sights on that role, but once I got into rehearsal I realized it was a great fit. Bobby in Company seems like an obvious part for you. Well, it didn’t to me, but that’s what I’m saying—I need someone to make a list. It happened again with Sunday in the Park with George . Sam Buntrock, who directed the [2008] revival on Broadway, went with it to Seattle, the only production he did other than New York and London. It was magnificent, and I loved playing George. We did all the green-screen work that the British actors did on Broadway; I got to act with myself on video, which was wild. But, again, that was not a role I was coveting. You should go on tour with Alice Ripley in Next to Normal . Oh my god, if only! I love that girl so much. That whole Side Show cast—we are bonded forever. Norm Lewis is one of my best friends. We’re all family, but Alice especially. I’m nuts for her. Would you consider it? They actually did contact me about coming in for it, but I’ve been very hesitant to take anything that wouldn’t allow me to control my schedule. I’ve been doing a lot of concerts recently partly because my dad has been battling leukemia for the past year. He just finished his second chemo, and he’s doing really well. The concerts are a blessing because they’re usually on weekends, so I can get back to Philadelphia in time for my dad’s chemo treatments, which have been on Tuesdays. Now that I’m in Phantom , I can go home on my day off to be with him. Sometimes real life takes over and you have to base your decisions on what’s going on in life. You’ve had a lot of big roles since Lestat , but not in New York. Is it ever frustrating to be asked, “What have you been up to?” when you’ve been starring in Les Miserables or Oliver! in Philadelphia? I don’t think of it in those terms. When I was doing Jean Valjean in Philadelphia, there were kids who flew in from Oklahoma to see the show. I teach master classes, and when young people ask what it’s like to be on Broadway, I say, “It’s wonderful, but don’t shortchange the regional theaters.” The most self-esteem-building experience of my life as an actor was doing the Joe Orton play Loot at the Dallas Theater Center: six actors, one costume, one set, no microphones and a brilliant piece of theater. That summer, I was like, “This is what it feels like to really be an actor.” You have a unique perspective on Phantom and Les Miz because you’ve done two roles in both shows. [Panaro played Marius in the original Broadway production of Les Miz ]. They’ve been imitated but never duplicated. Why? You can’t compare the two, but ultimately, it comes down to the material. Les Miz , the Victor Hugo novel, is classic, and so is the Leroux [ Phantom ] novel. No disrespect, but I don’t think the storyline of Martin Guerre or Pirate Queen , let’s say, is nearly as compelling. The message in Les Miz , which, to me, has always been, “To love another person is to look into the face of God,” is something everyone can identify with. In Phantom , people identify with the notion that what’s on the outside is not necessarily what’s on the inside. I don’t think the Phantom was born bad, I think he was created by society. From birth, people have treated him horribly because of the way he looks. And yet you are probably the most classically handsome man who has ever played the part. Can I tell you something? A lot of people know this from my previous dissertations [ laughs ], but I was a chunky, pigeon-toed, tortured child. I was teased horribly for my weight. And I was a church organist, which is so not a cool drummer. So there’s a huge part of me that identifies with the Phantom and feels for him because I know what it is like, on a very small level, to have people make fun of you. You’re not playing the organ onstage, are you? No, it’s only a prop, but I do try to play the actual music so it looks right. On an entirely different subject, did Lestat get recorded? Not only did it get recorded, I heard some of the rough cuts and it was gorgeous. I think the recording transcended the music even onstage. Doing the duets with Carolee Carmello [as Lestat’s mother]? I was in hog heaven. [That recording] would probably be the best thing that came out of the show. To my knowledge, it’s sitting in a vault somewhere. Elton John doesn’t control whether it would be released? I heard that there’s some kind of, pardon me, pissing match between Elton and Warner Brothers over it. I don’t know what that means exactly. I still hope and pray for a lot of people’s sake that it does get released. But there’s no word. Why are vampires the hottest commodity in movies and TV, but they can’t get a break on the stage? That’s a great question, but at this point we’re never going to know, because I don’t think anybody is going to try a vampire musical again [ laughs ]. There were three stinkers in a row with Dracula and Lestat and Dance of the Vampires . It would be hilarious if you could get a role on True Blood . I would loooooove to be on that show. I think I could fit in! You gave a very frank interview in a book called Making It On Broadway about the constant struggle theater actors face, saying, “I’ve had to talk myself off the ledge a lot of times.” And yet you seem so upbeat. When I gave that interview, I didn’t want the young people who would be reading it to get a false sense of “Everything’s going to be rosy.” But on the other hand, I try to be an upbeat person. If I were to describe myself, I’d say I’m a realist with optimist rising. See Hugh Panaro in The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre.

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Phantom of the Opera Cover

The Phantom wearing the black mask in the original novel

With the exception of the Dario Argento/Julian Sands version, every version of the Phantom is seen wearing a mask, an image fixed into the minds of the world since its publication in 1911, though most tend to instantly think of the white half-mask from Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical.

  • 1 In the Original Novel
  • 2 The Mask in other versions of the story
  • 3 1925 Lon Chaney silent film
  • 4 1943 Claude Rains remake
  • 5 Hammer Horror Herbet Lom version
  • 6 Phantom of the Paradise
  • 7 1986 Maximillian Schell TV movie
  • 8 Robert Englund 1989 version
  • 9 1990 Charles Dance miniseries
  • 10 The Lloyd Webber Musical

In the Original Novel [ ]

In the Leroux book, Erik mentions having worn a mask even as a child, because his mother couldn't bear to look at his skull-like face. Erik wears a black mask that hides his entire face, and the original cover of the novel depicts Erik wearing a simple black domino mask that hides 3/4 of his face. He also wears a false nose when attending the Opera's productions, A similar black mask appears as one of many masks Erik wears in the Charles Dance version, specifically when Erik is in a malevolent mood, such as when he dumps a crate full of rats into Carlotta's dressing room. Susan Kay's  Phantom  has the same deformity, although has Erik wearing a white mask instead of a black one. Erik also mentions at the end of the book that he had invented a mask that made him look like he wasn't deformed.

The Mask in other versions of the story [ ]

1925 lon chaney silent film [ ].

In Lon Chaney's 1925 silent classic ,  Erik wears a unique mask, one that resembles a normal face   with a dust muffler u nder the nose. He also wears a cap with this mask, making him resemble a regular Middle Eastern man when masked. However, Erik is hardly seen with his mask  on, mostly keeping his deformed face in view of the audience.

1943 Claude Rains remake [ ]

in Universal's 1943 remake starring Claude Rains, Erique Claudin wears a bluish-white mask that covers 3/4 of his face, stolen from the Opera House's costume closet after his face was disfigured by acid. The mask also serves as a disguise when the Phantom sneaks about on-stage


Erique's mask in the 1943 remake.

during a production where the actors wore similar masks. Erique's mask is seen next to his violin on a pile of rubble after his supposed death.


The Phantom's mask in the Herbert Lom Hammer Horror version.

Hammer Horror Herbet Lom version [ ]

In the 1962 Hammer Horror version, this Phantom, like the Claude Rains version, had his face scarred by acid, and wore a white cloth mask that hid his entire face, save for one eye. He wears this mask during most of the film, only removing it in a few scenes toward the ending.

Phantom of the Paradise [ ]

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A fan-made replica of Winslow's helmet

 In Brian De Palma's  Phantom of the Paradise,  Winslow Leach becomes the Phantom after getting his face caught in a record press that mutilates half of his face and renders his right eye useless as a result. Winslow hides his scarred face with a silver owl-themed helmet/mask. Strangely enough, this helmet also has a black lens over the right eye hole, conveniently covering Winslow's damaged eye.

1986 Maximillian Schell TV movie [ ]

In the 1986 Maximillian Schell version, this version of the Phantom wears both a stone-gray mask that resembles a statue's face, as well as a mask that resembles his face prior to his disfiguration, once again by acid, though strangely enough his unmasked face looks similar to Lon Chaney's skull-like deformity, looking nothing like an acid disfiguration.


One of the masks in the 1986 TV movie.


Robert Englund 1989 version [ ]

Robert Englund's Phantom in the 1989 film had a very grotesque variant of the mask. Erik Destler made a deal with the devil that people would love him for his music and it would live forever, but that his music would 

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Destler applying flesh pieces to his face.

be the only thing he would be loved for, and as a result, his face was mutilated, missing his hair, teeth, nose, and one ear. Destler disguises this with a wig, false teeth, and sews flesh to his face, obtained from his victims, covering the stitches with makeup. At the masked ball, he wears a simple skull mask with his Red Death costume. In the modern day, Destler wears false prosthetic faces, making him look completely normal.


Erik on the DVD cover, wearing the white base mask.


1990 Charles Dance miniseries [ ]

The 1990 Charles Dance TV miniseries had Erik wearing multiple masks on top of a plain white base mask, and Erik's deformed face is never shown on camera. With the white base mask, he possesses a gold Apollo mask that he wears while teaching Christine, a black mask he wears during moments of rage, a skull mask that he wore while Joseph Buquet was snooping around in the cellars, causing him to get scared and fall to his death, and a crying clown mask with black tears that he wears when he believes Christine will not return to him.    

The Lloyd Webber Musical [ ]

This version, aside from the Lon Chaney movie, is the most well-known version of the Phantom story, and the Phantom's white half mask is an iconic image that people tend to think of when someone mentions The Phantom of the Opera. The original intent was to have full facial deformity and thus a full mask, similar to the one seen in posters and promotional material for the musical. However, as having full makeup as well as the mask would make expression and singing difficult for the lead actor, and thus they halved it, via Maria Bjornson's innovative design. This Phantom, like the original novel, was deformed at birth, and made this mask himself out of what appears to be a fine, shiny porcelain. In the Joel Schumacher film adaption, the mask is made of leather. The Phantom also wears a wig with this mask, as his actual hair is a few white wisps on his balding head. His deformities include deformed lips, mismatched eyes, a missing right eyebrow, an elongated right nostril, a large gash with exposed skull tissue, and bony protrusions on his right cheek. In the Schumacher movie, the deformity is much less grotesque, often said by fans to more resemble a sunburn or rash more than a deformity.

My Collection of Phantom mask by stephantom53

A collection of Phantom masks inspired by the Lloyd Webber musical.

  • 2 The Phantom
  • 3 Raoul de Chagny

Home > What Happened To The Phantom Of The Opera’S Face

What Happened To The Phantom Of The Opera’S Face

  • UPDATED: July 23, 2023

Table of Contents

The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most iconic characters in literature and theater. Created by French author Gaston Leroux, the Phantom is a mysterious and tragic figure who haunts the Paris Opera House. One of the most intriguing aspects of the character is his disfigured face, which is always hidden behind a mask. But what exactly happened to the Phantom’s face?

In Leroux’s novel, “The Phantom of the Opera,” the story behind the Phantom’s disfigurement is revealed. According to the book, the Phantom was born with a facial deformity that made him an outcast from society. His mother, horrified by his appearance, abandoned him at a young age. Left to fend for himself, the Phantom grew up in the catacombs beneath the opera house, hidden from the world above.

As the story goes, the Phantom’s disfigurement was caused by a rare condition known as Proteus syndrome. This genetic disorder causes abnormal growth of the bones, skin, and other tissues. In the case of the Phantom, his face was severely affected, resulting in a distorted and grotesque appearance.

The exact details of how the Phantom acquired his disfigurement are not explicitly mentioned in the novel. However, it is suggested that his condition worsened over time, possibly due to neglect and lack of proper medical care. The Phantom’s isolation and constant hiding also contributed to the deterioration of his physical appearance.

In addition to the physical deformity, the Phantom’s disfigurement also had a profound impact on his mental state. Constantly shunned by society and haunted by his own reflection, the Phantom developed a deep-seated hatred for the world above. This hatred fueled his desire for revenge and his obsession with the opera house.

The Phantom’s disfigurement plays a central role in the story of “The Phantom of the Opera.” It is the catalyst for his transformation into a vengeful and manipulative character. His mask becomes a symbol of his hidden identity and the mask he wears to hide his true self from the world.

Over the years, the character of the Phantom has been portrayed in various adaptations of the story, including stage productions and film adaptations. Each interpretation offers its own take on the Phantom’s disfigurement, often using makeup and prosthetics to create the desired effect.

In Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera,” the character’s disfigurement is depicted through a half-mask that covers the right side of his face. This iconic image has become synonymous with the character and is instantly recognizable to audiences around the world.

The decision to only partially cover the Phantom’s face in the musical was a deliberate choice by Webber. By leaving a portion of the face exposed, the audience is able to see the humanity behind the mask. It humanizes the character and allows the audience to empathize with his struggles and pain.

In some adaptations, the Phantom’s disfigurement is portrayed as more severe than in others. Some versions depict him with a completely deformed face, while others show him with scars and burns. The extent of his disfigurement often depends on the artistic interpretation of the director and the capabilities of the makeup and special effects teams.

Regardless of the specific portrayal, the Phantom’s disfigurement remains a crucial element of his character. It is a constant reminder of his isolation and the pain he has endured throughout his life. It also serves as a metaphor for the masks we all wear to hide our true selves from the world.

In conclusion, the Phantom of the Opera’s disfigured face is a defining characteristic of the character. Born with a facial deformity, the Phantom’s appearance is a result of a rare genetic disorder. His disfigurement not only shapes his physical appearance but also has a profound impact on his mental state and actions. Whether depicted through a half-mask or more severe makeup, the Phantom’s disfigurement remains an integral part of his story and serves as a symbol of his hidden identity.



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The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Unmasking the Phantom: Romanticizing the Face of Horror

Phantom of the Opera Mask

Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera , has been filmed at least a half a dozen times, turned into a very successful Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and used as inspiration for one of the most ubiquitous halloween masks. Behind masks, we hide our true selves. Carl Jung would say those are masks of the persona: the ego adapting to its circumstances. But the physicial mask that hides the horrible, or a face to be pitied (or both)?  That’s unique to Romantic fiction. Especially to the horror genre. And certainly to Phantom of the Opera .

THE NOVEL (1910)

For Leroux, the mask as symbol is quite complex; in addition to having his phantom, Erik, hide a hideous visage, Leroux writes that “none will ever be a true Parisian who has not learned to wear a mask of gaiety over his sorrows and one of sadness, boredom, or indifference over his inward joy.” We are challenged to confront that we all wear masks — not just the ghost of the Opera house that longs for the beautiful Christine. In the gothic tradition to which Leroux’s novel belongs (along with all the adaptations that come later), the masked face is definitely romanticized.

The tale is familiar (well, to people like me it is): Erik hears Christine sing, and is captivated. But he knows himself to be so deformed that Christine will be repulsed by him. So he waits, secretly aiding Christine is her career. Minor characters are literally disposed of, and the main characters eventually find themselves at a pivotal moment when the mask will come off. Hideous boy will stand before beautiful girl, and all will be revealed.

But all what? Disgust? Pity? Overwhelming love?

Here’s where the novel and its many adaptations differ.

In the novel, when Erik is alone with Christine — away from her suitor, Raoul (whom Erik has imprisoned) — he lifts his mask, revealing his deformity, and kisses her on the forehead. She returns his kiss. Erik then reveals that he has never received a kiss — not even from his mother — and is quite overwhelmed with equal parts sadness and joy. He tells Christine that he has never felt so close to another human being, and turns from wicked ways — releasing Raoul. Why? The novel makes it clear: he has been saved by love. Indeed, Leroux has him dying because of love at the end of the novel. Christine buries him, then takes off with the handsome Raoul.


Lon Chaney, The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Fifteen years later, in 1925, Universal would adapt the novel to the silent silver screen.  Its producer Carl Laemmle (who would later go on to produce both Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) for Universal), chose Lon Chaney — the man of a thousand faces — for the central role. And in a post World War I world where the horrors of war left mutilated men, it is not beyond reason to assume that Chaney based at least some of his makeup on the poor broken souls who had returned from Europe with faces torn apart by German shrapnel .

Noseless and lipless, with a sunken-eyed face that looks more like a skull than that of a man, Chaney’s phantom goes way beyond the novel with the extent of Erik’s deformity, and it changes the whole tone of the story. Despite Christine still getting the attention from the phantom that leads to he success at the Opera house, her fear — our fear — is real. This phantom illicits horror — or at the very best, our pity. And instead of Erik lifting his mask in an act of love, Chaney’s phantom is dramatically unmasked, by Christine, in one of cinema’s most written-about reveals.


Erik’s unmasking is not his own decision. It is sudden. It is terrifying. And it leaves Christine horrified on the floor. A captured Raoul — again, Christine’s suitor — can only be freed if Christine makes a choice of two levers. A challenge is made by Erik. One lever will free Raoul. One will blow up the Opera House. But there’s a catch: free Raoul, and agree to marry Erik.

The tension is palpable. The audience sees Erik as a true monster, and wants so very much for Christine and Raoul to be together. And that is what they get, in a sacrifice made by Erik. He tricks Christine. His intention was apparently to free Raoul all along, and escape the Opera House with Christine. Only he is thwarted by an angry mob who attacks him and throws him into the Seine. Christine and Raoul? They are seen on honeymoon at picture’s end.

Still, the filmmakers initially intended to preserve the original ending of the novel.  They filmed scenes in which Erik dies of a broken heart at his organ after Christine leaves him. But the preview audience apparently hated this ending. They wanted the monster punished, and the lovers to be reunited.


Throughout the many adaptions — from Claude Rains in 1943, to Herbert Lom in Hamer’s version of 1962, to Brian de Palma’s bizarre Phantom of the Paradise (1974) — the stories change.

Music becomes the true love of the phantom in some. Disfigurement at brith because a tragic encounter with acid in another. But the central theme beneath all is this push and pull between the beautiful chanteuse and the disfigured musician. Sometimes repulsion. Sometimes attraction. Always Romantic in the Gothic novel sense of the term. Except, perhaps, in DePalma’s work, where the Gothic gives way to Glam.

THE MUSICAL (1986 — present day)

Phantom of the Opera musical

But outside of the novel, no version is more romanticized than the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical — which manages to fuse so many elements of the tale told over the last hundred years. In the blending of outcomes, the best and worst case scenarios for poor Erik co-exist. Yes, he is hideous. But he is romantic. And despite Christine’s love for Raoul, there is a bond between her and the phantom — one that often finds its way, as with most musicals, into song — and a gift of a ring to Christine.

The unmasking has mixed reaction — at first fear, but it soon becomes pity. This pity leads to tenderness. And tenderness, to love. At the end, Erik realizes that despite his love for Christine, he must release her to Raoul. The rightful couple begin to escape Erik’s subterranean lair, but not before Christine decides to return the ring that Erik had given her as a token of his love. She finds instead a mob that has descended into the lair to kill the phantom. But as she lifts aside the cloak where she believes Erik to be, she finds only… a mask.

Masks play a central role in all adaptations of the Phantom of the Opera . Some are there for sudden horror (kill the monster!). And some are there for romantic imaginings (where did the poor tortured artist go?).

Masque of the Red Death

Some masks are even there to further hide the true persona — or perhaps remind us all that despite love or terror, death awaits us all. In many adaptations, In Lon Chaney’s silent film, Erik attends a ball dressed as Poe’s Red Death. His mask is a skull. Memento Mori. The reminder that life is fleeting, and that we all must die.

In the end, it is the use of the mask — and the unmasking — that addresses our own extremes of attraction and repulsion. And that moment of revelation in the unmasking is truly the most dramatic event in The Phantom of the Opera — be it novel, film, or musical.

By Christopher Michael Davis

phantom of the opera mans face

Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.

Gillian Russo

The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.

Compoer   Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the  Phantom book and musical are set.

Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired  The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.

Experience these tales now before  The Phantom of the Opera  closes on Broadway.

Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.

Is  The Phantom of the Opera  based on a true story?

Yes and no — the plot of  The Phantom of the Opera  is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.

Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera  closes. 

The chandelier crash in Phantom  was inspired by a true event. 

The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.

One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.

phantom 750-nytg

The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.

Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the  Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.

Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...

The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.

The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.

Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera  novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.

Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.

Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story. 

Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.

What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.

He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.

The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend. 

One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned  ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.

Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.

Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00

phantom of the opera mans face

The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston leroux, everything you need for every book you read., christine daaé quotes in the phantom of the opera.

The Natural vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon

Some claimed that it was a mark of immeasurable pride; others spoke of her saint-like modesty. Yet, as a rule, artists are rarely so modest; in truth I am rather tempted to ascribe her actions to sheer dread. Yes, I believe that Christine Daaé was frightened by what had just happened to her, and was as taken aback by it as everybody else around her. […] To suggest that Christine was taken aback or even frightened by her triumph is in fact an understatement: having reread the letter, I would say that she was terrified. Yes, yes, terrified. “I am no longer myself when I sing,” she wrote.

The Natural vs. the Supernatural Theme Icon

The Angel was never seen but could be heard by those who were meant to hear. This often happened when you least expected it, when you were sad and down-hearted. Then your ears would suddenly hear celestial harmonies, a divine voice, which you would remember for ever. Those who had been visited by the Angel were stirred. They experienced a thrill unknown to other mortals and henceforth could not touch an instrument or open their mouths to sing without producing sounds that put all other musicians to shame. The people who knew nothing about the angelic visitation called them geniuses.

phantom of the opera mans face

“As I would not let go of the cloak, the shadow turned round and beneath the hood I saw a terrifying skull, whose staring eyes burned with the fire of Hell. I thought I was face to face with Satan himself. It was like a vision from beyond the grave.”

To think that he had believed in her innocence, in her purity! That he had tried for a moment to explain everything by her naivety, her simplicity of mind and her extreme candour. The Spirit of Music! He knew him now! He saw him! Surely he was some minor singer at the Opera, some good-looking Lothario, some coxcomb all smiles and sweet talk. He felt ridiculous and pitiable. Ah, what a wretched, insignificant and foolish young man you are, Viscount de Chagny! he raged to himself. As for Christine, what a brazen, devilishly cunning creature!

Love vs. Jealousy Theme Icon

His heart was cold, frozen solid: he had loved an angel and now he despised a woman.

Christine simply took off her mask and said: “It is a tragedy, Raoul!”

He now saw her face and could not suppress a cry of surprise and shock. Gone was her fresh, glowing complexion. No longer a reflection of her tranquil disposition and untroubled conscience, her face—so charming and gentle in former days—was deadly pale. How anguished she looked now! Her features were cruelly furrowed by sorrow and her beautiful, limpid eyes—Little Lotte’s eyes—had become wells of deep, dark, unfathomable mystery and were bordered with terribly doleful shadows.

It was a tranquil and pure fountain of harmony from which the faithful could safely and piously assuage their thirst, secure in the knowledge that they were partaking of musical grace. Having touched the Divine, their art was transfigured.

“When a man,” resumed Raoul, who felt his strength draining away from him, “adopts such a romantic stratagem to seduce a girl...”

“Either he is a villain, or she is a fool?” she interrupted.

“If Erik does not hear me sing tomorrow, he will be devastated.”

“It can only be thus if you want to escape him for ever.”

“You are right, Raoul. At all events, he will certainly die of grief if I run away.” … And then she added in a muted voice: “On the other hand, he could just as easily kill us.”

“Does he love you so much?”

“Yes, he would stop at nothing for me, not even murder.”

“Oh, how I hate him!” cried Raoul. “And you, Christine, tell me: do you hate him too? I need to know so that I can listen to the rest of your extraordinary tale with some peace of mind.”

“No, I do not hate him,” said Christine simply.

Hideousness, soaring on the wings of Love, had dared to face Beauty.

“You are afraid of him, but do you love me? If Erik were handsome, would you love me, Christine?”

“Why do you raise questions that I have pushed to the back of my mind as if they were sinful?”

She rose too and wrapped her beautiful, trembling arms round the young man.

“Oh, my betrothed, if I did not love you, I would not offer you my lips! Kiss them, for the first and last time.”

“Are people always unhappy when they’re in love?”

“Yes, Christine, they are unhappy when they love but are unsure of being loved in return.”

“Are you speaking for Erik, here?”

“For Erik and for myself,” said the young man shaking his head, thoughtful and forlorn.

“Let me tell you why I would like to see you leave tonight.”

“Yes, tell me, Raoul.”

“Because tomorrow, all your resolve will be gone!”

“Then, Raoul, you must take me away. Are we not agreed on that?”

“You’re afraid of me! And yet, deep down, I am not a bad man. Love me and you’ll see! To be good, all I ever needed was to be loved for myself. If you loved me, I would be as gentle as a lamb; and you could do with me as you pleased.”

“I don’t express myself like other people. I don’t do anything like other people. But I am very tired of it! Tired of having a forest and a torture chamber in my home! Sick of living like a mountebank, in a house full of tricks! Yes, I am sick and tired of it all! I want a nice, quiet apartment like everyone else, with ordinary doors and windows, and a proper wife.”

The Phantom of the Opera PDF

Trump doubles down on familiar divisive rhetoric at Virginia campaign rally

Donald Trump will remain on the Illinois ballot after a Supreme Court ruling on March 4. Trump is seen here speaking in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024.

"Macho Man" played between show-tunes from Phantom of the Opera as Trump rally attendees made their way through security just inside the doors of the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Saturday.

The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” in the half-full exhibit hall. Former President Donald Trump took the stage and launched into an hours-long speech that jumped from topic to topic at a campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, the weekend before Super Tuesday.

Though the primary contest hadn’t been officially decided, Trump spent little time on the importance of voting on Tuesday, when Virginians will go to the polls to cast their choice for the Republican nominee for president.

Instead, he sprinkled in rhetoric steeped in election denialism between jabs at President Joe Biden’s border and economic policy. He promised, if elected, to implement "MAGAnomics" complete with tax cuts. He sowed doubt in this country's democratic process. He vowed to "not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or mask mandate."

"2024 is our final battle," he said. "We will liberate our country from these tyrants and villains once and for all."

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Throughout the nearly two-hour speech, Trump cribbed mostly from his 2016 playbook. He called migrants terrorists and drug dealers and said he planned to seal the border as his first act in office. He called the free press the enemy of the people.

The audience joined him in booing or laughing with him as the "law and order" candidate made light of his 91 felony indictments. Those indictments include fraud, election tampering and the willful retention of classified documents.

"In the end, they’re not after me, they’re after you. I just happen to be standing in their way," he said. “I stand before you today, not only as your past and hopefully future president but as a proud political dissident.”

At the start of the speech, the audience appeared to hang on every word. After about an hour, groups began to trickle back out of the exhibit hall. It still hadn’t filled to capacity.

Economic dissatisfaction fueling Trump support

Linwood Johnson, 38, of Richmond, sat in one of the folding chairs inside of the exhibit hall before Trump took the stage.

“I’m looking at White America, the people who feel like they’re forgotten after Obama,” he said as he looked around.

Johnson voted for Biden in 2020 but said he plans to vote for Trump in 2024.

“I’m a Black man who lives in Richmond, Virginia, I’m voting Democrat,” he said of his voting record. “Biden didn’t do anything for us. I feel like we’re in a worse position now in America than we were before, and if Biden has been doing work, he hasn’t shown it well.”

He pointed to the higher cost of living as the motivation in his decision to switch from a Democratic voter to a Republican voter in the upcoming November election.

Lorie Smith, 43, and her 11-year-old son, Julien, took a break from standing in line to see Trump, to stand in line to get food and drinks at a coffee shop across from the convention center. They had traveled from Warsaw, Virginia, with their extended family to see the former president speak. She wore a black shirt that had a picture of Trump’s face on it, which read “Miss me yet?”

She had gotten the shirt in 2021 from an event in Orlando that she had attended with family. Trump’s speaking engagement had become a sort-of family gathering for her. Her motivation for supporting Trump is based on her view of the economy.

“Everybody seems to be suffering, especially with inflation,” she said. "I think people are tired and ready. Even if you don't like Trump, I think you like the idea of not having Biden in office anymore."

Julien had borrowed a sweatshirt from his aunt to wear to the rally. It had a picture of Trump, wearing a Christmas hat, surrounded in Christmas lights and it read, “It’s beginning to look a lot like you miss me.”

“I didn’t have anything Trump to wear so she gave me this to wear because I wanted to wear something Trump to go to the rally,” he said.

Julien won’t be old enough to vote in the November election, but he said he still supported the former president. His interest in politics began during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Lorie said the shutdowns were hard on children, and it’s something she and Julien had talked a lot about.

“Everything was easier back then,” he said, referring to the period when Trump was in office, and before COVID-19 halted everyday life. “When Biden was in office, inflation and gas prices went up and it’s been harder to get gas because it’s really high right now.”


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