The Phantom of the Opera is a musical and operetta by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe directed by Hal Prince, choreographed by Gillian Lynne, lighting by Andrew Bridge and designed by Maria Bjornson. The musical focuses on a beautiful singer, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as The Phantom, who terrorizes the Paris Opera House. The Phantom of the Opera first opened in London in 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre.
At the Opera Populaire in Paris in 1911, an auction is underway, with set pieces and artefacts from the old theatre are being sold. Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, purchases a music box 'in the shape of a monkey playing cymbals'. Lot 666 is then up for auction, which is a chandelier in pieces. The auctioneer mentions that the chandelier was involved in the "strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained." The chandelier illuminates with a flash and slowly begins to rise to the rafters of the theatre as the opera house is restored to its original grandeur (Overture).
At the Opera Populaire, 1881, a rehearsal for Hannibal is underway. Monsieur Lefèvre, the owner, announces that he has sold the theatre to two new managers, Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur André. They observe two of the ballet dancers, Meg Giry and her friend, Christine Daaé, with some curiosity. André asks Carlotta Giudicelli, the resident diva, to sing an aria. She agrees, but in the middle of the song, a backdrop suddenly falls dangerously close to her. The company blames the accident on the Opera Ghost. Carlotta has dealt with such incidents for several years, and says that she has had too much of it. She quits, taking Ubaldo Piangi, the leading tenor of the Opera Populaire, with her. The managers lament having to cancel the show, but Meg quickly suggests that they consider Christine. The managers are doubtful initially, but allow her to sing. Christine starts her song ("Think of Me") tentatively, but eventually impresses the entire company with her voice and is given the role.
The managers and Raoul (the new patron of the Opera House) look on from the stage box during a performance. Raoul is particularly impressed; he remembers Christine from their childhood. After the performance, Madame Giry praises Christine and castigates the ballet girls, forcing them to practice into the night. The Phantom's voice in the distance commends Christine on that night's performance. Meg sneaks away from the rehearsal to find Christine outside her dressing room. She expresses her delight in her friend's change of fortune, but wonders how it came about. Christine tells Meg that the Angel of Music has been tutoring her in singing during the night. She thinks he has been sent from Heaven by her father. The two discuss the issue ("Angel of Music") until Madame Giry arrives to retrieve Meg and deliver a note from Raoul.
The managers bring Raoul to Christine's dressing room. She is pleased to see him, and reminisces on her childhood memories with him ("Little Lotte"). She tells him about the Angel of Music. He invites her to dinner, but she declines because the Angel of Music is very strict, and would be angry. When Raoul leaves, the Phantom sings to Christine about his displeasure that Raoul is trying to court her ("Angel of Music/The Mirror"). Christine pleads for his forgiveness and begs the Angel to show himself. He complies, revealing himself behind Christine's mirror. The Phantom takes Christine behind the mirror and through a series of underground tunnels to his lair ("The Phantom of the Opera"), where he entreats her to sing for him. The Phantom later serenades her ("The Music of the Night"). During this song, he shows her a life-size doll in a wedding gown that looks exactly like her. The doll then reaches out to grab her, and Christine faints. The Phantom, shocked, carries her to a bed gently and lets her sleep.
The next morning, Christine sees the Phantom bent over his organ, composing intently ("I Remember..."). As she sneaks up behind him, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she pulls off his mask. She sees his deformity behind the mask, though the audience does not. Furiously, he rounds on her and curses her for her actions. The Phantom softens, after seeing Christine's fright and explains that he only wants to be like everyone else, and that he hopes she will learn to love him in spite of his face ("Stranger than You Dreamt It"). She returns his mask and the two have a moment of understanding before he returns her to the surface.
As the Phantom and Christine sneak back into the theatre, Joseph Buquet regales the ballet girls with terrible tales of the mysterious Opera Ghost ("Magical Lasso"), telling them that the only way to protect themselves is to keep their 'hand at the level of your eyes'. The Phantom sees them, and the ballet girls run off screaming. Madame Giry tells Buquet to hold his tongue, or the consequences will be severe.
In the managers' office, Firmin, Andre, Raoul and Carlotta puzzle over several cryptic notes they have received from the "Opera Ghost". They all blame each other for the various notes which have menacing tones. Madame Giry arrives with another note, in which the Phantom tells the managers to keep Box Five free for him, to give the leading role in the opera Il Muto to Christine, and relegate Carlotta to a silent part ("Notes"). Carlotta accuses Raoul of orchestrating the whole event and claims that he has had an affair with Christine. Fearing the loss of their main soprano (and her lover, the principal tenor, Piangi) the managers promise her that she will keep her leading role ("Prima Donna").
At Il Muto that night, Carlotta indeed plays the role of the Countess; Christine is the mute pageboy. Raoul decides to sit in Box Five to watch the show. The show is going well ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh"), until the voice of the Phantom, from nowhere, berates the managers for not having left box five empty. Then he angrily taunts Carlotta and makes her croak like a toad. She flees into Piangi's arms. The show stops and they announce that it will resume with Christine as the Countess. The ballet chorus is sent out to entertain the waiting crowd, but the performance is interrupted when the backdrop lifts to reveal the corpse of Joseph Buquet hanging from the rafters, having been strangled by the Phantom. In the ensuing melee, Christine finds Raoul and takes him to the roof where they will be "safe".
On the roof, Christine tries to tell Raoul that she has seen the Phantom's face and been in his lair, though Raoul does not believe her ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Christine hears the Phantom, but Raoul looks around and sees no one. Raoul promises to love and protect her always ("All I Ask of You"). The two make plans to see each other after the show. After Christine and Raoul head back downstairs, The Phantom emerges. He has heard the entire conversation. He is heartbroken, but his sorrow turns to rage and he vows vengeance against Raoul ("All I Ask of You Reprise"). Returning to the theatre, he sends the mighty chandelier crashing down on the stage during the curtain call in a bitter fit of rage.
Everyone is in attendance at the New Year's masquerade ball ("Masquerade"). The Phantom has not shown himself for six months. Christine and Raoul are now engaged. To Raoul's dismay, Christine insists on hiding her ring, which is on a chain on her neck. The Phantom enters, dressed as the title character from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". He announces that he has written an opera, and that he expects the managers to produce it ("Why So Silent?"). He also confronts Christine and takes her engagement ring from her saying that she belongs to him. Raoul begs Madame Giry to tell him about the Phantom. She tells him of a fair that visited the city years ago, complete with acrobats, conjurors, and freaks. The main attraction was a deformed boy locked in a cage; a brilliant mind with the face of a living corpse. It was boasted that he was an architect, scholar, musician and composer, who once built a maze of mirrors for the Shah of Persia. Madame Giry goes on to say that he escaped and was presumed dead, but she can never forget him "for in this darkness, I have seen him again". She runs away as Raoul puts the pieces together.
The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant, causes chaos and arguments among the managers and actors. Christine has been granted the largest part in the opera, which angers everyone. She tells the managers she does not 'want any part in this plot' because she is afraid that the Phantom will capture her. Raoul realizes that they can use the opera as a trap to capture the Phantom ("Notes II/Twisted Every Way"). Christine is unhappy with the idea as she does not want the Phantom dead. Tormented by the choice she must make, she flees the room.
Rehearsals begin and everyone has their own conversation. Carlotta and Madame Giry are arguing about the song, while Piangi is having trouble pronouncing "tangle." Finally, Carlotta sings the song mockingly. The piano starts to play by itself, and everyone sings along mechanically, except for Christine. She visits her father's grave to try to make sense of the situation. She wishes her father was there to help her make the right choice; perhaps if she lets go of her father's memory, she will no longer be in thrall to the Phantom ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears and sings to her, again in the guise of the Angel Of Music ("Wandering Child"). Christine falls back under his spell, easily.
Raoul enters the scene and brings Christine back to reality. The two men verbally spar ("Bravo Monsieur"), while the Phantom shoots fireballs down at Raoul, but Christine begs Raoul to run away with her. Enraged, the Phantom declares that they are both his enemies now and the Graveyard disappears in flames. Raoul and the police go over instructions to trap the Phantom. Raoul tells a marksman hiding in the orchestra pit to shoot to kill. The police set out to bar all of the exits. The voice of the Phantom is heard, taunting them. He appears in Box Five but vanishes as the marksman fires. Roaul rounds on him, but the Phantom interrupts, telling them to "let the audience in, let my opera begin!" ("Don Juan"). Christine appears onstage to sing ("The Point of No Return"). Don Juan appears onstage, with his face covered. During her duet with "Don Juan," Christine realizes she is singing with the Phantom instead of Piangi. The Phantom gives her a ring and expresses his love. Christine whips off his mask to reveal his deformed face to everyone. Before the police can intervene, the Phantom drags Christine offstage. Carlotta cries out in horror as Piangi is discovered dead, and a mob sets out to track down the Phantom once and for all. Madame Giry finds Raoul to take him to the bridge above the lake, and tells him where to find the Phantom. She warns him of the Punjab lasso, telling him to keep "your hand at the level of your eyes." Meg asks that she comes with him, but Madame Giry tells her the Phantom is too dangerous.
Down in the lair, the Phantom has forced Christine to put on the wedding dress ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer"). Christine asks if he is going to kill her too. He assures her that he would not kill her, and that his face is the reason that she will not love him. Christine says that she is not afraid of his face, but his soul. Raoul arrives, pleading to the Phantom to let Christine go, "do what you like, only free her!" The Phantom admits him to the lair and then snares him in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine a choice: either he will kill Raoul and let Christine go, or she will stay with him and Raoul can go free.
The Phantom insists that she must choose. Christine sadly tells the Phantom that he deceived her. Raoul apologizes and expresses his love for Christine, saying that as long as she is safe from the Phantom it doesn't matter what happens to him. Finally, Christine makes her choice and lovingly kisses the Phantom. Stunned by the kiss, which is the first real human love The Phantom has ever experienced, he sets Raoul free and releases Christine. He asks them both to leave and keep his existence a secret.
Raoul leaves, but Christine wants to return the Phantom's ring. The Phantom admits his love for her, and tearfully she forces herself to turn away. She and Raoul leave in the Phantom's boat, singing to each other. The Phantom sobs into the wedding veil Christine has left behind and cries out "You alone can make my song take flight. It's over now, the music of the night!" As the mob approaches, he sits down in his throne and pulls his cape around him. Meg slips through the bars in the gate and looks around for Christine. She notices the throne and cautiously walks over to it. When she pulls back the cape, she finds that the Phantom has vanished and all that remains is his mask. Meg picks up the mask and holds it aloft as a single light shining on the mask fades into darkness.