It is a 1986 musical, with music directed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. The musical is based on a French novel released in 1910. The primary character of the musical is a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé. She becomes the obsession of a musical genius beneath the Paris Opéra House.
The musical was first opened in 1986 at the London’s West End and in 1988 at the Broadway. The musical was subjected to various awards including the Tony Award and the Olivier Award for the best musical of all times. It is also considered as the longest Broadway show and completed its 10,000th performance on 11 February 2012. The play also made a lump sum of $6 million with Broadway gross of over $1 billion. It financially gained considerable success until it was taken over by The Lion King.
The musical play is based on a horror novel written by Gaston Leroux in 1910. It is an amalgam of two genres – thrill and romanticism of Phantom, who was a musical genius dwelling below the bridge of Paris opera house. Despite being shunned by the society for his facial deformity, he manages to fall in love with a young soprano named Christine. Meanwhile, Christine gains fame, money, success and turns even more beautiful than she already was. This is the time when a handsome man from her past courts her. Phantom descends to a jealous rage threatens the opera company.
The musical first opened in 1986, at Her Majesty’s Theatre and later at the Majestic Theatre in New York in 1988. Sarah Brightman, Michael Crawford and Steve Barton played the leading roles. After 32 years of its opening, the play has over 140 million fans worldwide.
In 1984, Cameron Mackintosh, the co-producer of Cats and Song and Dance was approached by Lloyd Webber for the release of a new musical. Webber was aiming for a romantic piece and researched a lot on various plays and books written by different authors. Basing their story on Gaston Leroux’s book The Phantom of the Opera, both the 1925 Lon Chaney and the 1943 Claude Rains motion picture versions were screened. Somehow, the play did not convince them. Later in New York, Webber got his hands on the second-hand copy of the novel. Halfway into the book, he decided his story for the next romantic musical.
Allegations of plagiarism
The play faced many allegations and complaints and lawsuits of plagiarism, throughout their play. In 1987, they were charged a lawsuit from the heirs of Giacomo Puccini that a two-bar passage from the ‘Music of the Night’ was in close resemblance to the phrases heard in “Quello che tacete” from Puccini’s opera. However, the litigation was settled outside court for an undisclosed number.
Again in 1990, they faced another lawsuit from a songwriter named Ray Repp who claimed the title song of the Phantom resembled his work “Till You“. After years of fighting litigation, Webber claimed that the song was itself plagiarism of “Close Every Door“.
Former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters also claimed that the half-tone chord was plagiarized from the 1971 Pink Floyd album called “Echos“. But, there was no lawsuit or litigation against him.