Friday, November 19, 2010

Phantom of the Opera Gaston Leroux

 The Novel
     Leroux claimed to have been inspired to write the story after visiting the catacombs of the Paris Opera house.  While roaming its lower depths he found a mysterious subterranean lake which was visible through iron grilles in the floor.  Leroux also remembered an unfortunate accident in 1896 when one of the chandelier’s counterweights had fallen on the audience.

    Thirty years after the events conveyed in the novel, he wrote about how the story came about with his researching the library at the Paris Opera house his interviews with people who were present at the time and his reliance on the memoirs of one of the opera’s directors at that time.
He boasted about having found evidence of bodies in the cellars. 
  The novel features an innocent young girl, who having lost her father attempts to become a star at the Paris Opera House, much to the disappointment of her boyfriend, who wishes she would quit. Her father promised an angel of music would watch over her and help her. She meets a man, the phantom, living under the opera house in the catacombs with a half-hidden, disfigured face. He becomes her angel of music, tutoring her while terrorizing others. His obsession leads to a tragic love story triangle and eventually to his death. The novel had mixed reviews.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical 
   It came to life when in May of 1984 Andrew Lloyd Webber sees a review about a stage adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera produced by the Theatre Royal in Stratford, and considers the idea of turning it into a new musical.
   Then in early 1985 he comes across a faded copy of the original Leroux novel in a second hand bookshop in New York, and buys it for a dollar.The book inspired him to create a romantic musical score for his new wife Sarah Brightman and The Phantom of the Opera the musical is born kicking off in UK at Her Majesty's Theatre on 9th October, 1986.

  The Movies 
   The story appears on the big screen for the first time in 1925, when Universal Pictures put Lon Chaney in the starring role. The tale of a deformed, masked composer, haunting the Paris Opera like a ghost, redeemed only by his love for a pretty young singer, has horror and romance in a good mix. Erik, the Phantom , may exhibit occasional homicidal tendencies, but like most of the screen's great monsters, he is also in love, and this is his saving grace.The following is the  famous scene in which the Phantom, in his underground lair, is unmasked by the young opera singer Christine after he has abducted her. They cunningly devised, both photographically and editorially, so the camera is positioned where both Christine and the Phantom are facing forward when the unmasking occurs, allowing the audience to see the Phantom's face first, and then Christine's shocked reaction when he turns around to confront her.

Paris Opera House

Phantom of the Opera Images with music

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lady of Shalott

  John Waterhouse Painting

   Alfred Tennyson 1809-1892 made significant changes to this poem in 1842 and it is the revised edition that is used in most publications of this classic poem.
The Story
    The Lady of Shalott lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. She looks outside her castle window in a mirror, weaves what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden to look at the outside world directly. The farmers who live near her island hear her singing and know who she is, but never see her. 

 The Lady, her surroundings, her tower and the outside world. The cause of the curse and its meaning are left unknown. She speaks through her own voice twice in the poem.Once when she makes the conscious decision to look out of her window, and again when she realizes what she has done. Tennyson  focuses the reader's attention on the physical situation of the Lady, and "the contrast between her interior world and the exterior world, between status quo and movement, between the active and meditative state and the differences between the two worlds"

 Lady of Shalott 
Verses and Photos taken around Lakes

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
;The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
    Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers
    The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth, silken-sail'd
    Skimming down to Camelot
Yet who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she know in all the land,
    The Lady of Shalott?
 Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the beared barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
    Down to towered Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
    Lady of Shalott."

And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to the left and right--
The leaves upon her falling light--
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
    And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
    The Lady of Shalott.