INTERVIEW: @fantomedelopera

Interview

Twitter account @fantomedelopera tweets all about Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra / The Phantom of the Opera, haunting the Palais Garnier since its 1909 serialization, and its many adaptations.

→ Tell us about your Twitter account, @fantomedelopera.

It was set up to be a kind of news service for anyone interested in the latest developments in the Phantom of the Opera world. But there’s a general focus on the novel and the 1925 film, as those are two personal favourites.

→ In your opinion, what has made Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical adaptation such a worldwide success?

It’s a phenomenal score, and the alchemy of the original production is hard to beat. Also, the story itself naturally lends itself to a theatrical setting, being of and about the theatre.

→ Recently, there have been some quite drastic changes to the production in London’s West End. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, the producers have halved the orchestra, from twenty-seven down to fourteen, and veterans of the show have been unceremoniously fired.

Designer Maria Björnson’s opulent proscenium has been dismantled, with the central descending Angel – her favorite setpiece – removed altogether. Even the iconic boat scene has been impacted, with the candelabra no longer moving. The lighting is now far brighter and more saturated, too, and the Phantom no longer stalks the catwalk above the stage.

Lloyd Webber’s bizarre insistence that the 2021 version is “substantially identical” to the original, and remains director Hal Prince’s production “in its entirety”, has caused confusion amongst audiences who were promised an “enhanced” show. Prince, who died in July 2019, opposed changes to the production. The so-called “brilliant original” is no more in Britain. Some minor restaging aside, however, it can still be seen on Broadway and in Japan.

→ What’s the future for Gaston Leroux’s story? Do you think the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will ever close?

I don’t think the Broadway production will outlast the end of this decade. France has recently played host to two straight-play adaptations. Several TV and film adaptations are planned, including a movie musical produced by John Legend, set in modern-day New Orleans. Every year a new graphic novel or computer game based on the Phantom of the Opera is released. Follow me on Twitter; I’ll keep you posted!

Follow @fantomedelopera on Twitter.

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