FA13 THEA 3720-001
MELODRAMA AND THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
This time, the operetta was so much better than the book. In 1910, Gaston Leroux published a serialization of his melodramatic novel, The Phantom of the Opera. The book did not sell well, but dramatic presentations of the story have been extremely successful. This melodramatic storyline contains three major components of melodrama: the main character is in circumstances that threaten death or ruin, there is a suspenseful plot with a climactic moment near the end, and the main character is rescued at the conclusion of the presentation. The melodrama can also called eclectic or a combination of realism and anti realism. The main character in the Phantom is Christine Daae. Her life is in danger.
At the tender age of six, Christine Daae’s mother dies. Her father is a musician and teaches Christine about the Angel of Music. This Angel supposedly can teach someone to sing with a voice from heaven. When Christine grows up, she given a position in the chorus of a theatrical production at the Paris Opera House. There she meets the “Angel of Music”, who teaches her to sing beautifully. But in reality this teacher is Erik. Erik is a physically deformed, mentally disturbed, musical genius, who falls in love with her. Christine’s life is definitely in dangerous. As in any melodrama, the plot thickens and becomes more suspenseful.
Erik kidnaps Christine and takes her to his home – the cellar of the theater. He hopes she will fall in
love with him. But instead, Christine is horrified to see Erik’s deformities when she removes the mask from his face. Erik decides to keep Christine hostage for the east of her life. After two weeks, Christine requests a release from captivity, with the promise that she will wear Erik’s ring and be faithful to him. Christine leaves the cellar and unites with Raoul, her sweetheart since childhood. The two of them discuss a future together, but Erik has been ease dropping, and plots his revenge. Erik again kidnaps Christine and tries to force her to marry him. She refuses. Erik then informs her that if she refuses, he will cause an explosion in the opera house that will kill everyone, including Raoul, who is trapped in the cellar. Christine agrees to the marriage to save everyone. Our heroine is in great difficulty. Erik removes his mask, kisses Christine, and she kisses him back. Now, ironically, our main character is rescued by the villain.
Erik has never been kissed before, he reveals, even by his mother. Erik’s heart is softened and he releases Christine to Raoul for marriage. Our villain has become a hero.
The Phantom of the Opera is a true melodrama. This storyline contains three major components of melodrama: the main character is in circumstances that threaten death or ruin, there is a suspenseful plot with a climactic moment near the end, and the main character is rescued at the conclusion of the presentation. All three elements are present in this excellent operetta.
1. Brockett,Oscar G. and Hildy, Franklin J. (2003). History of the Theater. Ninth Edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
2. Haining, Peter (1988). “Introduction”. The Phantom of the Operea. New York: Dorset Press.
3. Harrison, Martin (1998). The Language of Theater. London: Routlege.
4. Wilson, Edwin and Goldfarb, Alvin (2012). Living Theater: History of the Theater. New York, New York: McGraw – Hill