back Print Version



Phantom of the Opera, The
(Phantom of the Opera, The)

The earliest filming of the novel by Gaston Leroux dating to 1910 is also that which is most faithful to the book.  Lon Chaney – THE MAN WITH A THOUSAND FACES – was so perfect for the role of the phantom that the director Rupert Julian announced while reading the screenplay: “Lon Chaney – or we can´t do it.“ Universal thus engaged Chaney, although his anger at the autocratic behaviour of the director led to regular skirmishes on set. Filming dragged on for over ten weeks. Yet, despite difficulties, the film was a huge success. Particularly those scenes in which the phantom is seen unmasked left the audience to shudder. A 1995 restoration of the film includes the famous sequence in Technicolor with original colorization and effects.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the last score written by Roy Budd before his untimely death at the age of 47 years, a work with which the brilliant jazz musician (GET CARTER) reinvented himself. It became Budd’s masterpiece, a thematically rich score in the romantic tradition with detailed orchestration. The main theme, presented by an organ at the begin- ning, reflects the morbid romanticism of the story, the obsession of the phantom with the opera-singer Carlotta who tries to escape the deformed musician. The theme for the relation- ship between these two characters, which appears in different forms throughout the whole work, is both dark and hauntingly beautiful, fragile and nightmarish like a variation on Richard Wagner’s TRISTAN AND ISOLDE. Budd mixes extra-diegetic and diegetic music brilliantly in a symbiosis which demands the highest concentration from the musicians and which proves Budd to be a superior expert who can - and has to - be rediscovered with this complex score. As John Williams states: „Listen and remember that this is indeed his greatest achievement, written with compassion and nobility.“

Film music by Carl Davis alludes strongly to Charles Gounod´s FAUST on the one hand, a Parisian opera production that reveals the background to the plot. On the other hand, it reflects the character of the phantom with great expressivity– in the words of the composer: “Horror, pure Horror“. 

Behind the scenes of the Paris Opera: a mysterious phantom roams unnoticed with designs to provide a leading role for his personal favourite, the young singer Christine. He terrorizes to the point that Christine is indeed allowed to sing the coveted soprano part. But the phantom cannot win over her heart, which soon belongs to the noble Raoul. As the mutual affection of the masked pair becomes clear, the phantom finally abducts the young talent into the circuitous catacombs of the building.


Carl Davis

  large orchestra (from 46 Musicians)    
1+1/pic.1+1/ca.1/escl+1/bcl.1+1/cbsn - - timp + 3 per - org - hp - strings