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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

“The Complete Phantom of the Opera”, by George C. Perry, research by Jane Rice, photographs by Clive Barda

167 pages, Henry Holt and Co., ISBN-13: 978-0805006575

My parents bought me The Complete Phantom of the Opera for Christmas one year, along with the 2-cassette (remember those!) original Broadway cast soundtrack recording of the same, as even at such a young age I was a hardcore Phantom fanatic (I even managed to see it live in the early 90s at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, England). It quickly became my favorite book (for a time, at least) and while most people are only familiar with the musical and the (subpar) movie, the book Le Fantôme de l’Opéra is where it all began, a fact that The Complete Phantom of the Opera makes clear. Perry’s book starts out with a history of the Paris Opera House, accompanied by many beautiful and detailed pictures of the same. It then goes on to describe just how life was in Paris in the 1880’s and what people would regularly do at the Opera. It also is about Gaston Leroux, who wrote the Phantom novel. Perry then goes on to describe the famous Lon Chaney Phantom filmed adaptation of the Leroux’s tale, as well as other versions of the story, good and otherwise. Last but not least it describes how the Andrew Lloyd Webber version came to light, with rare backstage photos and conversations with the production crew and cast. The book goes into so much more detail and reveals so many parts of the story that both the play and the movie leave out, and if you are planning on seeing the musical, I highly recommend that you read this first (hell, if you already have seen it – or are never go to see it – I still highly recommend that you read this book).

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