The Phantom of the Opera (abbr. PotO) is the mysterious denizen of the Paris Opera House's deepest sub-basement. It is also the name of the many, many iterations of his story.
The Original Novel
The French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux was first published in serial form between 1909 and 1910. It was translated to English in 1911 and has since been adapted into multiple books and films as well as the popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The original novel is sadly ignored by many in the Phantom of the Opera fandom, because of the relative overpowering visibility of movies, musicals, and other media. Thus, some miss certain important details such as the fact that the Phantom's name is Erik, that his eyes are yellow, and that he wears a full black mask. Oh, and he's really, really, I mean damn-I've-seen-better-looking-corpses UGLY.
His true canonical appearance does not stop fans from finding him Teh hawTt.
Also overlooked is the character of the Persian, who was replaced by Madame Giry in the ALW musical and film.
Presented in order of publication.
Written by Susan Kay and published in 1991, Phantom is a re-telling of Erik's life from the points of view of various key people. It begins with his mother's POV, switches to Erik's when he runs away from home, then to master stonemason Giovanni's, then to the Persian's (here named Nadir Khan), back to Erik, then Christine, and finally to Raoul.
From this adaptation comes Erik's cat, Ayesha.
Phantom of Manhattan
Written by Fredrick Forsyth and published in 1999. Inspiration for the awful Phantom: Love Never Dies. Notable for dissing the original Leroux work, making the Phantom wear a clown mask, making Christine bear the Phantom's rape baby, making Raoul impotent, and killing Christine. And the musical only got worse.
The Webber Musical
In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of the novel opened in London's West End, starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom, Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé, and Steve Barton as Raoul. The musical score was composed by Webber with lyrics by Charles Hart with contributions from Richard Stilgoe.
Webber's musical follows the story of Leroux's novel relatively faithfully as it pertains to Christine, the Phantom (who goes unnamed), and Raoul. Webber's version focuses more on the romance of the story than the mystery, but the Phantom retains his dignity and gets his redemption in the end. Some names are changed (perhaps to make them easier to sing) and some, like Raoul's older brother and the Persian, are written out altogether.
The Other Webber Musical
In 1999, Fredrick Forsyth wrote a sequel to the original Lloyd-Webber musical entitled The Phantom of Manhattan. In 2010, this novel was adapted into its own musical, entitled Love Never Dies. After a disappointing West End run, the show was reworked for the 2011 Melbourne production. A video of the Melbourne production was released in 2012, and ALW pronounced himself proud of it.
Love Never Dies appeals to a somewhat different audience because it overthrows established themes and ideas in favor of more self-indulgent ones. Ten years after the events of the original musical, the Phantom has become a successful amusement park owner in Coney Island, New York, but he still pines for Christine. When he learns that she is coming to America to perform for Oscar Hammerstein, he coerces her to sing for him one last time, which she agrees to do (despite the fact that she ought to know better by now). Christine arrives with the Phantom's illegitimate son, who was conceived the night before she married Raoul. Raoul is a bitter drunkard who has wasted away his family's fortune on booze and gambling. Madame Giry forced Meg to become a prostitute in order to supply the Phantom with more money, and they're both jealous of the attention he gives Christine and Gustave. Christine is once again forced to choose between the Phantom and Raoul, and this time she chooses the Phantom. In despair, Meg abducts Gustave, threatens to shoot herself, and accidentally shoots Christine instead. Christine dies in the Phantom's arms, but not before revealing to Gustave the identity of his true father. They bond, and the curtain falls.
The show has received mixed critical reviews, many praising the production while panning the script. Fans of the original musical are often disillusioned by this one because it was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, yet varies drastically from the original materials. However, it's a published work, so the PPC must still protect it.
The Non-Webber Musical
Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit produced yet another musical adaptation, entitled simply Phantom, which hit stages in 1991. Actually, this adaptation was completed before Lloyd-Webber produced his take on the story, but then Phantom of the Opera became a smash hit in London, and moved to a Broadway production. Yeston and Kopit's backers thought that both musicals were the same (not the case) and they withdrew their support. Finally, Yeston and Kopit just marketed the production for off-Broadway venues. Nowadays, it's fondly referred to as one of the most popular musicals never seen on Broadway.
Phantom does not follow the plot of the Leroux novel as faithfully as Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom is actually referred to as Erik, and he is the illegitimate son of a retired manager of the Opera. Erik is younger and more innocent in this plot; he hasn't actually killed anyone until the very beginning of the show, because his father has protected him from intruders. He actually has a sense of humor, too, and his interest in Christine is less possessive and voyeuristic and more childlike and platonic (though still very romantic). Christine is actually prepared to marry him over her other love interest (without his having to force her to choose between them), when she sees his face, panics, and runs away. Then all hell breaks loose.
The adaptation is also notable in that Christine's other love interest is Philippe de Chagny, who does not have a younger brother named Raoul, and in that La Carlotta has suddenly become the new manager of the Opera (the horror!).
Given the fluffier-than-Webber nature of this production, it's a miracle that more badficcers haven't noticed it en masse just yet. However, this is a good thing, because despite its inaccuracies, Phantom is a good musical.
The novel has been adapted into many, many films, some fairly good, some fairly awful. Among the best-known is the 1925 silent film, starring Lon Chaney as the Phantom. This version is essentially a horror film, and accurate to the book.
Most recently, in 2004, Andrew Lloyd Webber's original musical was adapted as a film starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom, Emmy Rossum as Christine, and Patrick Wilson as Raoul. It has received mixed reviews. Some love it for its brilliant photography and effects, but some people, especially those with a background in music, hate it. Some common complaints are:
- The Phantom is too pretty;
- Where did the canon go?
The Phantom of the Opera fandom (or phandom) is very diverse thanks to the length of its existence and the wide variety of adaptations over the years. There are plenty of older fans of the original book, and then again there are plenty of squeeing fangirls whose exposure is limited to the 2004 movie, and of course the gamut in between.
The various versions of Erik are designated according to the author of his adaptation, or by the actor who plays him in a particular production. Leroux!Erik and Gerard Butler!Erik are nicknamed Lerik and Gerik, respectively.
Fanfiction (also known here as phanphiction) tends to focus on shipping. Usually the idea is to get Erik paired off with someone: his fans want him to get a happy ending one way or another, whether it be in the arms of Christine, some other girl (usually an OC), or some guy (often Raoul or the Persian). The two biggest shipper factions, Erik/Christine and Raoul/Christine, are so old and well-established that there isn't a shipping war so much as a shipping armistice, with the two camps divided by deep trenches, barbed wire fences, and fields of grenades, but more or less content to let each other be as long as nobody gets belligerent.
Mary Sues abound, and almost all of them want to get into Erik's pants regardless of the fact that he's a basement-dwelling, homicidal manchild. Fans of the Gerard Butler version could almost be forgiven, thanks to his taut, glistening pecs and relative lack of deformity, but this has been going on just about as long as the fandom has existed, and it continues to baffle more level-headed fans who recognize the psychological issues in play.
The Official PhanPhiction Academy of Phantom of the Opera is run by Mlle. Alaina, the course coordinator, and Mlle. Mirielle, the mini-trainer and chief of security. Its "minis" are not-so-mini mini-scorpions and not-so-mini mini-grasshoppers. With multiple versions of all the canon characters running around, insanity abounds.
Girls Next Door
Girls Next Door is a spin-off of the crossover fan comic Roommates, by AsheRhyder, but GND is particularly significant because its creator is PPC-fan Pika, famous for her drawings of OFUM's Elves in Black Leather and other characters.
Girls Next Door, like Roommates, is set in the Building, which is located in a cross-continuum intersection and is home to several canon characters who are trying to have something like a normal life post-canon. The main characters of Roommates are Erik and Jareth, who share a flat, and their neighbors James Norrington and Inspector Javert. Girls Next Door focuses on Christine and Sarah, who also live in the Building and have to put up with the ridiculous shenanigans their canon counterparts get up to, often in attempts to
stalk win them over. The girls are college-age in the comic, and attend a nearby university with other canon characters.
GND and Roommates can be read separately. Things that happen in one are generally assumed to have happened in the other, but may not be covered by both.
PotO and the PPC
The Phantom of the Opera Division of the DMS is known to be housed in the fifth sub-basement of Headquarters. This probably means very little in terms of actually finding it, though one should probably watch out for trapdoors and trick stairs on the way. Its agents are a bit peculiar.
Agents from this Continuum
Agent Derik, although not actually from this continuum, was very obviously modeled after Gerik in his badfic of origin and still bears a striking resemblance to Gerard Butler under all the Threadscar.
Missions in this Continuum
Listed in chronological order according to when they take place on the HQ Standard Timeline, as near as can be determined.
- "Agents Regina and Berou," Agents Berou and Regina (DOC), March 25, 2005
- "Send Him My Love," Agents Debris and Gammut (DMS - PotO), June 13, 2006
- "Angel of Music, Hide No Longer" (crossover with Sonic the Hedgehog), Agents Anneli Rodriguez, Xanthus Garkaran, and Cinderella (DF), December 4, 2011
- "Never Let Go," Agents Derik and Gall Knutson (DMS), May 2012
- "The Phantomess of the Opera and the Half-Blood Prince" (crossover with Harry Potter), Agents Derik and Gall Knutson (DMS), January 2018