Saturday, February 13, 2010

the phantom of the opera

The Phantom of the Opera is a traditional musical that follows one of the classic story lines:

  • Boy meets beautiful girl
  • Boy discovers girl is emotionally traumatized by a former circus member with a disfigured face who lives underneath an opera house at the edge of a subterranean lake in the middle of Paris, who is not only an amazing singer, organist, and inventor, but also a criminal mastermind who extorts 20,000 francs1 out of the opera managers by sending notes signed Opera Ghost
  • Criminal mastermind writes an opera score, kills a few people, causes some mayhem, and kidnaps beautiful girl
  • Boy finds girl, has a lapse of judgment whereby he manages to allow said criminal mastermind near enough to lasso him with a noose
  • Girl smooches criminal mastermind
  • Criminal mastermind allows them to escape
  • Criminal mastermind disappears into a chair

The amazing thing about these archetypal stories is that they appear in all of the world's major cultures. More amazing is that this particular archetypal story, when it appears in these ancient regimes, always includes the element of a subterranean lake underneath Paris.

This story is obviously dated, because Opera Houses these days aren't really pots o' money to go about extorting. In fact, the other day I tried attending an opera, and found the staff all wearing half-masks, threatening attendees with death if they didn't donate to keep culture alive.

If the Phantom were around today, he'd probably haunt football stadiums.2

Seriously, though, the Phantom has some pretty great music. Amazing music. I love the music. But there's a disconnect for me; you've got this rocking music, with this wacko storyline. Like, couldn't they come up with anything better? Did they write the music, then outsource the plot to Von Curtis Salon and Script Writers?

If you're coming from Les Miserables, you've just had an amazingly heart-breaking storyline, full of deep twinges of regret, remorse, along with lessons on forgiveness and love.

Phantom? Oh, yeah, watch out for those opera-house-haunting, Parisian subterranean lake-inhabiting, disfigured organ-playing singing fake ghosts.

Thanks. I'll keep my eyes open.

1. Is that a lot of money? Why not call them Bobs or Freds? And what would the Phantom think of the Euro and a unified monetary system? Would he recognize the difficulty of Greece's situation, unable to control their currency? These are the questions I ask myself during musicals. This is the reason people don't talk to me about musicals.
2. The Phaaaaaantom of the Patriots is here...inside your mind.

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