Thursday, January 31, 2008


The history of the masquerade is quite fascinating. The event originated in Venice Italy in the 15th century as elaborate dances for the upper class, which eventually evolved into costumed balls and festivals for the public. The masquerade spread in popularity through Europe in the 17th and 18th century. It was an event that brought people together of all classes, nobleman and commoners. It was became an outlet for many to depart from their lives and enter into a world of pretend, hiding themselves behind masks, and taking on another identity.

The most frequently used masquerade costume was called the “domino.” It was a very simple disguise that consisted of a black loose hooded cloak that enveloped the body, accompanied by a mask white or black in color. It gave the illusion of intrigue and mystery.

The Phantom’s dress was similar to the domino. His hair concealed by a wig, his face hidden by a mask, his body enveloped in a cloak of black. It provided him the opportunity to hide his hideous appearance and become someone who was mysterious, alluring, seductive, and attractive in appearance. He lived his life dressed in masquerade while in his Opera House, until Christine exposed him.

Even today in the 21st century, there are still costume parties and masquerade balls where you can take on another identity and hide the real you behind a costume. We are often unsatisfied with our own identity in real life. Being part of a masquerade gives us the chance to be someone else pehaps more mysterious, alluring, and seductive in appearance.

So let's have a Masquerade Ball at the Opera House. Your choice of costumes consist of the characters in the Phantom of the Opera. If you had the opportunity to masquerade as one of the characters, who would you become? Whose face would you place over yours? Whose identity would you like to make your own?

For me, it’s Meg Giry. Remember, she’s the one who asked Christine, “I only wish I knew your secret. Who is your great tutor?”

Movie Note to the Curious: Why was Christine dressed in pink at the masquerade ball? The costume designers purposely picked the masquerade colors of white, black, silver and gold to give the "Phantom a great platform when he suddenly appears at the ball and he’s dressed head to toe in bullion and scarlet. We dressed Christine in pink because, at this point in the story, she is tinged by his spell." (Quoted from: The Phantom of the Opera Production notes)


Vicki said...

Thanks for your comments, Jennifer. I value your insight greatly. As you've noticed, I look at the story mostly through Webber, but have just cried through Leroux, "weeping over me, with me." The Phantom's story is so powerful, I doubt that I can but scratch it's meaning for a modern day society. Keep your comments coming!

Kate H said...

Note also both men are in uniforms, which could denote that they are vying for Christine, or defending each side of her life--the known and the unknown.

I thought of Christine's pink dress in the film as a symbol of her being tainted by Erik's influence. Everyone else is wearing black and white--denoting how they see the world, and cannot understand his.

Nice blog! Looking forward to more from you.

Phantom's namesake said...

What is the meaning of Christine's clothes going from white to red?