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Photo credit: Google Images

As you may know, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Phantom of the Opera, an enormously successful 1986 musical, is based on a French Gothic novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, written by Gaston Leroux (6 May 1868 – 15 April 1927), serialized in Le Gaulois between 23 September 1909 and 8 January 1910, the year it was published.  The original novel was not as popular as the cinematic adaptations preceding Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.  Lloyd Webber first looked at two cinematic adaptations[i] of the novel and rejected the idea of writing a Phantom of the Opera based of these films.  He changed his mind when he read an old copy of the out-of-print novel by Gaston Leroux.

The Phantom of the Opera

My parents owned a copy of the novel.  I therefore read it as a young child and loved it.  It was a real page-turner.  However, when the Phantom of the Opera was reborn as a musical, it took me a while to realize the musical was based on the novel I had read decades earlier, but it was.  Suddenly, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra acquired new proportions.  Had I seen the house of my childhood as an adult, I might have found it smaller than I remembered it, but Le Fantôme de l’Opéra had grown larger.  Obviously, Andrew Lloyd Webber liked it as much as I did, which pleased me enormously.  I therefore sensed a connection.

 Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, édition 1921
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Fantôme’s petits rats

Reading the Fantôme de l’Opéra, I learned that “petits rats [little rats] de l’Opéra” were children between the ages of 7 and 12 who studied ballet at l’Opéra de Paris, the dance company not the building, and performed at the Palais Garnier, built from 1861 to 1875.  Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera was performed at the 1,979-seat Palais Garnier.  I remembered the “petits rats‟ when I was writing my post entitled The Two Rats, Fox and Egg: The Soul of Animals.  It was a happy memory and one I wanted to share it with you.

I never saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical and never saw one of The Phantom of the Opera‘s cinematic adaptations, but I read the book.


[i] There are several cinematic adaptations of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra in a number of languages.  I believe Andrew Lloyd Webber saw the Universal Studios‘ 1925 and 1943 adaptations.  (See Adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera, Wikipedia.)

Andrew Lloyd Webber
The Phantom of the Opera

09-20(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)
Les Deux Rats, le Renard, et l’Œuf, by Granville
(Photo credit: lafontaine.net)

© Micheline Walker
23 June 2013