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    I have not seen any of the films or musical adaptations of this story, but I can tell you the book is one scary read, perhaps because as the plot unfolds we begin to realize that the monster may not be a ghost after all, but a human with seemingly unhuman powers.
    Gaston Leroux, (1868-1927) was a journalist and creator of the fictional detective, Joseph Rouletabille, whose first adventure, The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907) brought him success as an author. He produced a series of detective novels, and in 1910, wrote Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, based on some strange occurrences at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra, at the Palais Garnier. In 1896, the huge chandelier fell from the ceiling during a performance, killing a patron. Leroux's story is fictional but much of the architectural descriptions woven throughout are accurate. Yes, there is a lake beneath this gargantuan building, and yes, Apollo sits on the roof. (See the images below.) As far as the trap doors, numerous basements and secret passages, I would bet there is at least a modicum of truth. At the end of the story, there is a chapter about the building itself and a bit of history concerning its construction. I don't know if Leroux himself wrote this chapter or if it was added by an editor, but here is just a tidbit, which appeared in Scribner's Magazine, in 1897:

There are 2,531 doors and 7,593 keys; 14 furnaces and 450 grates heat the house; the gas-pipes if connected would form a pipe almost 16 miles long; 9 reservoirs, and two tanks hold 22,222 gallons of water and distribute their contents through 22,829 2-5 feet of piping; 538 persons have places assigned wherein to change their attire. The musicians have a foyer with 100 closets for their instruments.

    Well. I don't think trap doors and secret passages would be out of the question!
    I am hesitant about how much I want to say about the plot, because one must really read it in a state of suspense, not knowing at all what is coming. And to reveal too much would be giving away important clues. Because, until the very end, one really is not sure exactly what is happening. And believe me, you WILL NOT want to put this one down, and you will hang on the edge of your seat until the conclusion.
    So here is just a brief outline. The old managers of the Opera House, Debienne and Poligny are retiring, and there is a gala event to celebrate. The young dancers are in a tizzy because of the "Opera Ghost" who has made himself known again. It is widely accepted that he is there, but no one can speak seriously about it. However, a few people have a certain relationship with him, and one is Madame Giry, the mother of one of the young dancers. She is the box keeper, and does the bidding of the ghost. Before the performances begin, the chief scene-shifter, Joseph Buchet is found dead in the basement.
    That evening, the lead singer suddenly takes ill, and Christine Daaé, sings in her place, stunning the audience with her voice. She faints at the end of her performance, and a member of the audience, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, rushes to find her in her dressing room, where a doctor is attending her. She claims to not know him, but it is later revealed that they were childhood friends. Raoul realizes he is in love with her.
    But as he attempts to become close to her, he slowly grasps there is someone or something interfering in her life, and she refuses to speak honestly about it. Meanwhile, the new managers, Moncharmin and Richard are slowly educated about the Opera Ghost, which they continue to believe is a hoax, although they aren't sure exactly who is perpetrating it. Madame Giry refuses to sell Box 5, because that belongs to the "O.G." and the managers become infuriated with her. They throw her out and replace her with another woman.
    This angers the Ghost, and he is angered even further when the lead soprano, Carlotta, whom Christine had replaced, does not heed his warnings about staying home for the performance of Faust, so that Christine may sing instead. Rumor circulates quickly that a plot to replace Carlotta with Christine is being carried out by her followers. And to make matters even worse, the new managers are seated in the forbidden Box Five.
    It isn't true that Christine is plotting against Carlotta, but it is obvious there is someone who is, Before the performance, the managers had received a letter from the "O.G." expressing his displeasure for the above disruptions. All goes well for Act One, but in the next act, all hell breaks loose. Carlotta croaks like a frog, and then the chandelier, which is directly over the woman just hired to take the place of Madame Giry, breaks free and falls on her, killing her.
    As the truth unravels, very slowly and painstakingly, we discover that the phantom is indeed a monster, but not the kind we perhaps had imagined. What makes this legend so horrifying is that the paranormal aspect fades away as we comprehend that everything that happens does so without crossing the lines of physical reality.
    The one element that had me rather perplexed, even annoyed, was this sense of melodrama that bordered on humorous silliness, particularly the cryptic dialogues between Raoul and Christine. The behavior of the others isn't much better, particularly Madame Giry, and the two managers, who are never quite convinced there is a real, physical threat in process. And it seems to go on forever, making the book almost plodding at times, even though I was reading like wildfire. But as I neared the conclusion, the story, along with the method of relaying it revealed the genius behind it. Wow! What a great tale.
     Incidentally, this one was not a particularly big hit in Leroux's time. Interestingly, according to the Note at the beginning of the Dover edition, the audience of 1910 didn't like it for the very reasons I did—that being the fact that the ghost is not really a phantom.
    And now, I must share my own "Haunted Music Hall" story, which, when I read the part about the chandelier falling, I couldn't help but remember.
     Those of you who read me regularly know that I went for my Master's degree in music at CCM, at the University of Cincinnati, and ended up living there near downtown for a number of years working in the music profession. At the time, I could get gallery seats at Cincinnati Music Hall for five bucks, a pretty good deal, so I spent many an evening enjoying performances of the Cincinnati Symphony, Ballet, and Opera.
    I remember one night, shortly before a performance, dreaming a very strange and frightening dream. I was in Music Hall, as the symphony performed the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz ( a Frenchman!). If you are familiar with the story behind this piece, you know how creepy it is, while at the time being an extraordinary work of art and a standard in classical symphonies. It was written while Berlioz was taking opium, and throughout, there is a musical image of his love—a woman who has captivated him, but flits in and out of his reality, in a quite morbid way. A recurrent theme, which represents the glimpses of his beloved, called the idée fixe, appears in different guises throughout the five movements, sometimes as an angel, but in the end, as a witch. Wikipedia quotes Leonard Bernstein:

Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

    In my dream, as the Dies irae thundered through the hall, I looked up and saw the great chandelier come unhooked and crash to the floor. Needless to say, I woke up in a bit of a sweat.
    Now, this chandelier in Music Hall is a monster. At the time I was in Cincinnati, I remember a newspaper article that estimated its current value then at $90,000. The thing is, I was going to Music Hall, to hear, yep—the Symphonie Fantastique. Needless to say, I was sort of on edge during the performance, and NO ONE would have been able to drag me anywhere near that chandelier.
    Ok, so that's Part 1 of my Music Hall Phantom. Part 2 happened as I was reading this current book, here in 2017, over 30 years since the above experience. Normally, I keep my house silent, only turning on my radio when I go to sleep because classical music is known to hold high vibrational energy. (I set it to go off in an hour.) However, as I read this book, sitting on my couch, I decided to turn on music. Well, what should be playing but a recording from Cincinnati Music Hall! At the conclusion, the announcer spoke about the fact that that building was known to be haunted The late Erich Kunzel, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops for years, even spoke of his encounters with ghosts. The Hall itself was built over a former asylum, and "Pest House", where victims of the cholera outbreak of 1832 were buried. In 1988, while building a new elevator shaft, human bones were exhumed—119 pounds of them! You may read about all this at the link above. Talk about synchronicity!
    In any case, this book is an easy and fascinating read, and is also available in English translation from Project Gutenberg.
    The illustration on the book cover is by Andre Castaigne, 1911.
    Below are some photos from the Palais Garnier:
Apollo on the rooftop;
The Lake beneath the basement;
The Grand Staircase.

The Lake beneath the basement

Apollo on the rooftop

The Grand Staircase

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