“We cried together!
I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!”
Why is Phantom of the Opera so popular? What is it that touches us so deeply? Over 80,000,000 people have seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. It has played in 25 countries, 124 cities around the world since its first performance. How many more have read the classic story by Gaston Leroux or seen the movie? What is it about this story that moves us so? Is it because we so identify with his pain and wish for his redemption?
Imagine a man who has lived his entire life and never felt the touch of a kiss. Erik, so repulsive he never received a kiss from his mother, and so despised by her that she would not allow him to kiss her in return. His mother’s response was to throw a mask over his head to cover his face. Talk about the formative years in one’s life! Is it no wonder we begin to see this tortured soul develop before us? Beaten, ridiculed, and deprived of human affection. So sets the stage for the Phantom’s first encounter with tenderness, which changes his life.
At the Point of No Return, Christine has a choice. She either chooses to see her lover hanged or spend the rest of her life with the Phantom to buy his freedom. Christine Daae is attracted to two men: one who is the light in her life, the other who is darkness. In a moment of her own realization of the Phantom's pain, she calls him a pitiful creature and wonders about the life he has known. She chooses a lifetime with the Phantom, places the ring upon her finger signifying she will become his wife, and then kisses him. The first kiss is an act of surrender. The second kiss an act of compassion.
Watch closely, you will see the tears as they touch each other's face. Leroux’s stirring original work says, “She had cried with me and mingled her tears with mine!” At that moment, Christine became one with the Phantom. She mingled her compassion with his pain. She not only wept for him, but also wept with him. Compassion, my friend, is the ability to feel the pain of another and to weep with those who weep.
If you have ever shed a tear while reading the book, watching the play, or seeing the movie, you too have shared in the compassion behind the story. You have mingled your tears with his pain.
The Phantom's Student (with tissues on hand)
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