The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

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The actors, singers, and patrons of the Paris Opera House say that a ghost haunts the labyrinthine chambers beneath its stage. While there are those who laugh off such superstitions, they always do so nervously, in the bright light of day. Nearly everyone connected with the Opera House in any way has felt the phantom's vague, troubling presence. But beautiful, talented young singer Christine Daae will soon experience a terror far more acute than any vague feeling of unease. For she is about to learn the secret of why the man who has made the tunnels beneath Paris his private domain must forever hide his face behind a mask.

Part horror story, part historical romance, and part detective thriller, the timeless tale of a masked, disfigured musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opera House is familiar to millions of readers, as well as to movie and theatre-goers. At the heart of the story's long-standing popularity lies its questioning of a universal theme: the relationship between outward appearance and the beauty of darkness of the human soul.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556904103
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 09/28/1988
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 2.75(h) x 6.30(d)

About the Author

Gaston Leroux's most famous work, Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera), was inspired by a tour of the cellars at the Paris Opera, and published in 1911.

Read an Excerpt


Is It the Ghost? It was the evening on which MM. Debienne and Poligny, the managers of the Opera, were giving a last gala performance to mark their retirement. Suddenly the dressing-room of La Sorelli, one of the principal dancers, was invaded by half-a-dozen young ladies of the ballet, who had come up from the stage after “dancing” Polyeucte. They rushed in amid great confusion, some giving vent to forced and unnatural laughter, others to cries of terror. Sorelli, who wished to be alone for a moment to “run through” the speech which she was to make to the resigning managers, looked around angrily at the mad and tumultuous crowd. It was little Jammes—the girl with the tip-tilted nose, the forget-me-not eyes, the rose-red cheeks and the lily-white neck and shoulders—who gave the explanation in a trembling voice:

“It’s the ghost!” And she locked the door.

Sorelli’s dressing-room was fitted up with official, commonplace elegance. A pier-glass, a sofa, a dressing-table and a cupboard or two provided the necessary furniture. On the walls hung a few engravings, relics of the mother, who had known the glories of the old Opera in the Rue le Peletier; portraits of Vestris, Gardel, Dupont, Bigottini. But the room seemed a palace to the brats of the corps de ballet, who were lodged in common dressing-rooms where they spent their time singing, quarreling, smacking the dressers and hair-dressers and buying one another glasses of cassis, beer, or even rhum, until the callboy’s bell rang.

Sorelli was very suspicious. She shuddered when she heard little Jammes speak of the ghost, called her a“silly little fool” and then, as she was the first to believe in ghosts in general, and the Opera ghost in particular, at once asked for details:

“Have you seen him?”

“As plainly as I see you now!” said little Jammes, whose legs were giving way beneath her, and she dropped with a moan into a chair.

Thereupon little Giry—the girl with eyes black as sloes, hair black as ink, a swarthy complexion and a poor little skin stretched over poor little bones—little Giry added:

“If that’s the ghost, he’s very ugly!”

“Oh, yes!” cried the chorus of ballet-girls.

And they all began to talk together. The ghost had appeared to them in the shape of a gentleman in dress-clothes, who had suddenly stood before them in the passage, without their knowing where he came from. He seemed to have come straight through the wall.

“Pooh!” said one of them, who had more or less kept her head. “You see the ghost everywhere!”

And it was true. For several months, there had been nothing discussed at the Opera but this ghost in dress-clothes who stalked about the building, from top to bottom, like a shadow, who spoke to nobody, to whom nobody dared speak and who vanished as soon as he was seen, no one knowing how or where. As became a real ghost, he made no noise in walking. People began by laughing and making fun of this specter dressed like a man of fashion or an undertaker; but the ghost legend soon swelled to enormous proportions among the corps de ballet. All the girls pretended to have met this supernatural being more or less often. And those who laughed the loudest were not the most at ease. When he did not show himself, he betrayed his presence or his passing by accident, comic or serious, for which the general superstition held him responsible. Had any one met with a fall, or suffered a practical joke at the hands of one of the other girls, or lost a powderpuff, it was at once the fault of the ghost, of the Opera ghost.

After all, who had seen him? You meet so many men in dress-clothes at the Opera who are not ghosts. But this dress-suit had a peculiarity of its own. It covered a skeleton. At least, so the ballet-girls said. And, of course, it had a death’s head.

Was all this serious? The truth is that the idea of the skeleton came from the description of the ghost given by Joseph Buquet, the chief scene-shifter, who had really seen the ghost. He had run up against the ghost on the little staircase, by the footlights, which leads to “the cellars.” He had seen him for a second—for the ghost had fled—and to any one who cared to listen to him he said:

“He is extraordinarily thin and his dress-coat hangs on a skeleton frame. His eyes are so deep that you can hardly see the fixed pupils. You just see two big black holes, as in a dead man’s skull. His skin, which is stretched across his bones like a drumhead, is not white, but a nasty yellow. His nose is so little worth talking about that you can’t see it side-face; and the absence of that nose is a horrible thing to look at. All the hair he has is three or four long dark locks on his forehead and behind his ears.”

This chief scene-shifter was a serious, sober, steady man, very slow at imagining things. His words were received with interest and amazement; and soon there were other people to say that they too had met a man in dress-clothes with a death’s head on his shoulders. Sensible men who had wind of the story began by saying that Joseph Buquet had been the victim of a joke played by one of his assistants. And then, one after the other, there came a series of incidents so curious and so inexplicable that the very shrewdest people began to feel uneasy.

For instance, a fireman is a brave fellow! He fears nothing, least of all fire! Well, the fireman in question, who had gone to make a round of inspection in the cellars and who, it seems, had ventured a little farther than usual, suddenly reappeared on the stage, pale, scared, trembling, with his eyes starting out of his head, and practically fainted in the arms of the proud mother of little Jammes.* And why? Because he had seen coming toward him, at the level of his head, but without a body attached to it, a head of fire! And, as I said, a fireman is not afraid of fire.

The fireman’s name was Pampin.

The corps de ballet was flung into consternation. At first sight, this fiery head in no way corresponded with Joseph Buquet’s description of the ghost. But the young ladies soon persuaded themselves that the ghost had several heads, which he changed about as he pleased. And, of course, they at once imagined that they were in the greatest danger. Once a fireman did not hesitate to faint, leaders and front-row and back-row girls alike had plenty of excuses for the fright that made them quicken their pace when passing some dark corner or ill-lighted corridor. Sorelli herself, on the day after the adventure of the fireman, placed a horse-shoe on the table in front of the stage-door-keeper’s box, which every one who entered the Opera otherwise than as a spectator must touch before setting foot on the first tread of the staircase. This horse-shoe was not invented by me—any more than any other part of this story, alas!—and may still be seen on the table in the passage outside the stage-door-keeper’s box, when you enter the Opera through the court known as the Cour de l’Administration.

To return to the evening in question.

“It’s the ghost!” little Jammes had cried.

An agonizing silence now reigned in the dressing-room. Nothing was heard but the hard breathing of the girls. At last, Jammes, flinging herself upon the farthest corner of the wall, with every mark of real terror on her face, whispered:


*I have the anecdote, which is quite authentic, from M. Pedro Gailhard himself, the late manager of the Opera.

Everybody seemed to hear a rustling outside the door. There was no sound of footsteps. It was like light silk sliding over the panel. Then it stopped.

Sorelli tried to show more pluck than the others. She went up to the door and, in a quavering voice, asked:

“Who’s there?”

But nobody answered. Then feeling all eyes upon her, watching her last movement, she made an effort to show courage, and said very loudly:

“Is there any one behind the door?”

“Oh, yes, yes! Of course there is!” cried that little dried plum of a Meg Giry, heroically holding Sorelli back by her gauze skirt. “Whatever you do, don’t open the door! Oh, Lord, don’t open the door!”

But Sorelli, armed with a dagger that never left her, turned the key and drew back the door, while the ballet-girls retreated to the inner dressing-room and Meg Giry sighed:

“Mother! Mother!”

Sorelli looked into the passage bravely. It was empty; a gas-flame, in its glass prison, cast a red and suspicious light into the surrounding darkness, without succeeding in dispelling it. And the dancer slammed the door again, with a deep sigh.

“No,” she said, “there is no one there.”

“Still, we saw him!” Jammes declared, returning with timid little steps to her place beside Sorelli. “He must be somewhere prowling about. I shan’t go back to dress. We had better all go down to the foyer together, at once, for the ‘speech,’ and we will come up again together.”

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by Gaston Leroux

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

Chapter I Is it the Ghost? 15

Chapter II The New Margarita 29

Chapter III Why the Managers Resigned 42

Chapter IV Box 5 53

Chapter V The Enchanted Violin 71

Chapter VI A Visit to Box 5 94

Chapter VII The Fatal Performance 98

Chapter VIII The Mysterious Brougham 118

Chapter IX At the Masked Ball 129

Chapter X 'Forget the Man's Voice!' 143

Chapter XI Above the Trap-Doors 151

Chapter XII Apollo's Lyre 162

Chapter XIII A Masterstroke 189

Chapter XIV The Safety-Pin 204

Chapter XV 'Christine! Christine!' 213

Chapter XVI Mame Giry and The Ghost 219

Chapter XVII The Safety-Pin Again 235

Chapter XVIII The Commissary of Police 244

Chapter XIX The Viscount and the Persian 252

Chapter XX In the Cellars of The Opera 261

Chapter XXI Vicissitudes of a Persian 283

Chapter XXII In the Torture-Chamber 302

Chapter XXIII The Tortures Begin 311

Chapter XXIV 'Barrels! Barrels!' 320

Chapter XXV Which Shall She Turn? 335

Chapter XXVI The End of the Ghost 346

Epilogue 359

Reading Group Guide

"The story of the monster man whose horrible deformities cause fear and terror, his search for love and acceptance, and his haunting of the opera house in Paris is told in very simple language. Beautifully adapted, the story flows along so easily that readers will be immediately caught up in the tangle of events and emotions. McMullan conveys all of the anger, grief, joy, and love that make the phantom a truly believable character. Will attract reluctant readers."--School Library Journal.  

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The Phantom of the Opera 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is really great. But there are spelling mistakes. You can read through it but it is very annoying.
ProfessionalBookNerd More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I read it, like many before me, because I've loved the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical since childhood. I remember my mother reading the book and telling me interesting parts of it, and so I decided to read it myself a little over a year ago. It is such a beautiful story, and Leroux wrote it in such an interesting way. This book is categorized as fiction, but because of the way Leroux writes it (and because I don't know my French history) I want to believe it's real. Leroux writes that he believes the Phantom (Eric) was real. Interspersed with the story, he interjects his own opinion, and occasionally includes real(?) interviews with the characters from history. As a straight work of fiction, this is an amazing, beautiful tale of love, perseverance, the limits of the human existence, horror, suspense, sorrow... This really has everything I want in a story. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, The Phantom of the Opera made me laugh, cry, gasp, sigh, and grip the book with white knuckles. And the little bits here and there that make you want to believe it was all real... well, they make you want to go to Paris to see the opera house.

And not surprisingly, the soundtrack to Weber's musical makes really good background music while reading this. Grab a tissue at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heard the music from the show long before ever seeing it live. After hearing the music I bought the book, then finally got to see the show. The book and show/movie are different from eachother, like the show better but it was nice to have the extra background on the characters. And to the person who said that the actor playing the Phantom opposite Emmy Rossum was Australian is wrong, sorry. He's actually Scottish, the Phantom was played by Gerard Butler in the 2004 movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why does everyone go with Erik? Sure I feel bad for him but killing people just to be near Christine is too obsesive. He is a murderer and all of you who say "she should have gone with Erik" would you marry a serial killer? Roul was decant kind loving and gentle. He didnt try to make her love him, he waited for her. That is true romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favofite movie and i loved the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Different from the movie but an amazing read. The characters are interesting and the phantom was really cynical. Great read
factory on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is very famous. I had not read though I knew the title of this story. This story is a talk that centers on the true colors of the ghost that appears in the opera house. Because the story of the original had been easily brought together as for this book, it was very comprehensible. Because characters' names were French, it was not easy to have read. This title is very fear but story was very interesting!
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My prior exposure to The Phantom of the Opera is almost exclusively tied to the Broadway musical (or the movie musical adaptation of the Broadway play). Apart from that, all I knew about the Phantom came from random references in Scooby Doo or other peripherally related media. Thus I wasn't at all surprised to find the book have significant differences from what I know of the Phantom. Still, I felt a general sense of familiarity to the story and could envision many of the scenes¿probably my biggest struggle was to stop internally singing songs from the play as I read the book.As was the case of many of the novels of the time, this book includes significant commentary from the author as he emphasizes that this is a true story that he has happened upon and researched over time. The author assures us that he has personally vetted out the claims of the research materials he has used and that he has personally investigated the locations of the story. This technique always strikes me as a little interesting and makes me laugh a little at the mindset of novelists and readers of a century ago. In spite of the fact that this story is certainly a work of fiction, it is very evident that Leroux conducted at least a moderate degree of research. At the very least, he had a great knowledge of the layout, look and feel of the Paris Opera House. The edition I read included an article in the appendix from a historian who commented on the attention to detail and accuracy. The article commented on the nature of the descriptions of the Opera House in the book as compared with reality. It indicated that there was certain literary license in some areas of the description (particularly with regards to some of the secret passages and such), but for the most part the book presented a true and accurate representation of the Opera House and could serve as a valid reference.Apart from the accuracy of the descriptions, I found the descriptive nature of the text very engaging but not overly so. I wasn't distracted from the descriptions, but I felt like I had a vivid feel for the Opera House (and other locales) and could truly envision the scenes presented. The characters felt a little stereotypical and predictable to me¿though part of that could be due to my knowledge of the story as well as the fact that this story is a century old and perhaps when it initially came out, the characters were more unique than they are today.For those who have seen or are familiar with the Broadway play, you'll be familiar with a lot of the general aspects of the story. I can't speak to other film versions of the story. There are quite a few significant differences in the story as well. Probably the biggest difference is that there are many more scenes that happen away from the Opera House. In the play, we go up on the roof at one point and I believe the graveyard scene is supposed to happen away from the Opera House (it's been a while since I saw the play¿and my memory is unclear). In the book, we find out where Raul and his brother live. We find out where Christine grew up and lives away from the Opera House. We wander the streets around the city. There's more backstory given to Christine as well as to her earlier interaction with Raul. We hear the folk story around the "Angel of Music" and understand even more why he is so enticing to her. All of these elements helped enrich the book and will certainly throw some interesting light on the play.Where things got a little weird for me in the book was in the character of the Phantom as well as a character not in the play¿the Persian. We get an interesting back story on the Phantom's life prior to coming to the Paris Opera House. This story is intriguing though I think a lot of my interest was more in the way the story was laid out. Rather than giving you the whole story at once, which could have been done easily enough, we get hints and allegations throughout that allude to the Phantom having previousl
ChihiroNa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story was mysterious.The phantom was terrible man.But he was poor man, too.
RachelPenso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My brother (who is a manager at Powell's City of Books) found me this copy of this book. I absolutely love it. It truly adds to the story.
vyode on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
sat unread for years.this translation ( or prose style ) is not the easiest or most engaging to read. but after slogging it through it's a little bit better than expected/anticipated
the1butterfly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I consider The Phantom of the Opera to be a retelling of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale. The phantom in this version is kind of a creepy stalker guy. We get depth in some aspects missing in the musical (although we do not have the depth of feeling that the musical conveys), but really, if you want a good retelling of this story, read Susan Kay's Phantom. Leroux gets credit for the story line, but his writing is just as boring as that of other authors whose works have been turned into really awesome musicals- Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. Were men of that general period just completely incapable of writing?
ck2935 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Leroux's descriptions of the Paris Opera House.
LilyEvans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this book from a friend because I really loved the soundtrack about two years ago when I first heard it. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to read the actual book. I read it in the span of a day while traveling on vacation (in the car and on the train). It was a pretty good book, though I felt it was dragged on a bit and I got a bit bored sometimes. But I loved the suspense and I kept wanting to read. I love mysteries about history, so I thought this was a pretty good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This copy is terribly typed up. Spelling mistakes throughout and even a full page left out. Worth the extra money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't call it an extraordinary piece of literature, but it wasn't terrible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Y u no luv me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read for anyone, really. The writing is amazing; the plot, the settings, the imagery of this book is beauriful. It definitely changes one's opinions on the characters from the movie. They are different in the book. They've made me see them differently in the movie now, though not necessarily in a bad way. Loved this book, love the movie, do recommend!???
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
YOU WILL CURSE THE DAY YOU SAID I DO, WHEN IT WAS PHANTOM WHO ASKED YOU...first. (totally look up phantom of the awkward and watch it. LOVE IT! ot will only make sense you have seen ze Phantom of yhr Opera.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my goodness! I litterally just saw the play today and it was......AMAZING!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw it like twice and i loved it ssssooooooo much! It is called Love Never Dies. P.s. it is a movie so look it up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago