Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tale is a work of fiction, based on Gaston Leroux’s book written over 100 years ago, but there are some tantalizing parts of the original story that are likely based on real life.
Guy Simpson is the Music Director and Supervisor of Opera Australia and he will be appearing in two lavish productions of the Down Under show next year.
He admitted that the swirling rumors surrounding the story only added to the experience.
“I think all of these things add up to intriguing snippets of information, which people love to embellish in their minds,” Mr Simpson told nine.com.au.
Lake under an opera house
In the show, the ghost resides in a candlelit lair on a lake under the Palais Garnier, where he tracks down the choir girl, Christine.
In one of the most famous scenes, he has Christine row across singing the iconic song, The music of the night.
In fact, there really is a water lagoon below the opera house, which was completed in 1875.
Water fills reservoirs that were created at the time of construction when the building’s foundations were inundated by a tributary of the Seine.
These days they are used to train firefighters.
The grimy water tanks might not be as romantic as the show’s gothic lagoon – but with a little imagination, it’s not hard to see what may have sparked Leroux’s imagination.
“Right now it gives a great idea, that this guy could live there and push his boat out on the lake,” Mr. Simpson said.
One of the most famous scenes in the series is when the ominous ghost smashes a chandelier from the ceiling.
Without doubt Leroux, whose novel The Phantom of the Opera, released in 1910, was inspired by the theater tragedy of 1896.
On May 20, during a performance of an opera entitled Hellé, a fire knocked down a lighting counterweight, crushing to death Madame Chomette, member of the public.
There is no doubt that the author heard of the accident. The newspaper he worked for as a reporter wrote about it.
“I guess it got embellished in a chandelier,” Mr. Simpson said.
“He was a theater critic and an opera lover, I believe. His imagination could run wild.”
And although there is no evidence of the existence of a disfigured genius, Leroux has always insisted that the ghost itself is real.
And indeed, an architect who shared the name of the Phantoms – Erik – is said to have disappeared, claiming he planned to live under the building.
The Phantom of the Opera is now the oldest musical in the world after 35 years.
But Sydney is about to see it in a whole new way.
Australian theater fans will be able to see the show next year in an all-new setting on the water in Sydney Harbor, as well as a separate version inside the iconic Opera House, which will also perform at Melbourne.
Delays due to COVID-19 mean the two emissions are now a few months apart.
Mr. Simpson has been involved with the show since the late 1980s and has traveled the world overseeing productions from South Korea to Brazil.
He declined to reveal exactly how the on-water version will be performed – but promised it was going to be spectacular.
“It could reveal too many secrets,” he joked.
Mr Simpson suggested the production could even bring composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to Australia.
“He loves coming to Australia,” he said.
“I keep hearing these rumors that he might be coming.”
He said either production would be a must-see – even for people who aren’t normally interested in musicals – just because of the mind-blowing music.
“If you’re going to see a musical in your life, this has to be this one,” he said.
“Members of the public love a good tune.
“Boy, this show is absolutely full of them.
“And when you add to that the heightened things of the mystery, the melodrama, the romance, there are all of these attributes that people find compelling.”