Wednesday, April 16, 2008


You would think I’d run out of things to write about on this blog, but alas, I haven’t talked about our managers of the Opera Populaire - M. Armand Moncharmin and M. Firmin Richard. The sign has been hung outside. “Opera Populaire -- Under New Management.” The retiring owner is leaving, and the new management is coming on board. For some reason that always carries with it the assumption new management means better things to come, but that may not necessarily be the case. Our new managers thought they were buying themselves into the world of the arts, but little did they know the Opera House was haunted!

What does their presence represent in the story of the Phantom of the Opera – the age old struggle of control; and it’s a struggle that many of our players are staging against one another in this story. “So it is war between us?” declares the Opera Ghost in Leroux. In the movie, the Phantom declares to Christine and Raoul, “Let it be war on you both!” Yes, it is war, everyone struggling for control of territories, hearts, and stardom.

Messrs. Moncharmin and Richard have amassed their fortune in the junk business. Oh, excuse me, I stand corrected, that’s “scrap metal.” (Apparently, that’s the politically correct term.) They have purchased the Opera House from the retiring owner, who by the way is leaving because of his health and moving to Australia. (Sounds like he couldn’t get far enough away.) No doubt, the new managers, having amassed their fortune, suggest they both had humble beginnings. Now having hit the big time, they can buy their way into society’s acceptance of the upper class, who regularly attend the performances.

On the day of their arrival, announcement of their ownership, and the introduction to the cast and crew of their new patron, the Viscount de Chagny, they are immediately greeted with two obstacles. First, our controlling Carlotta, who as we all know from my prior post possesses a bit of an attitude problem. She’s out to manipulate and control the new managers from the get-go, and they learn early to grovel, grovel, grovel in order to appease her.

Then to complicate matters, they are introduced to the Opera Ghost. The first response is that everyone is obsessed. (Okay, I admit it, I am.) The Opera Ghost drops his welcome note, and Madame Giry reads it. He has the gall to welcome them to his opera house, proceeds to outline his stipulations for their peaceful existence in his domain, which includes leaving Box 5 empty for his use, and reminds them that his salary is due.

The stage is set – it’s war! Our Opera Populaire has become a battle ground. Control is at stake. Both have claimed the domain to be theirs, and the fight has begun. Our dear Phantom struggles to keep his reign, and the new managers struggle to reject his rule. They call him a lunatic and insane, reject his demands, refuse to pay his salary, give Box 5 to Raoul, and cast Carlotta in Miss Daae’s place. The Opera Ghost warns them of dire consequences should his orders be rejected and retribution ensues. Carlotta loses her voice, and Joseph Buquet is hanged. As far as O.G. is concerned, the managers should stay in their offices and leave the arts to him. He ultimately ruins them completely by destroying the Opera Populaire.

Of course, the entire story is laced with struggle and control. We have the managers against the Opera Ghost, the Opera Ghost against the managers, Raoul against the Phantom, the Phantom against Raoul, and Carlotta nipping at Christine’s heels. All of these characters are warring against each other for territorial possession, whether it is the Opera house, a woman’s heart, or stardom.

So whose hand do we raise and declare the winner in this war? Was it the managers? The Phantom? Christine? Carlotta? Raoul? I guess we could turn this into a modern day reality show. I’ll provide a 1-800 number for you to cast your vote. We’ll announce the winners on next week's blog.

Your obedient, but slightly wacky,
Phantom’s Student

Order Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera Here

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