Which will then lead me to dig out the sheet music and to sit down at the piano where I will hack my way through The Music of The Night and its buffet of flats (Count ’em. There’s five. That’s every black key on the piano. . .).
And now that there’s a movie version – which pales in comparison to the stage production but is better than nothing – I will sit down to watch that, too. After all this, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s amazing tunes will swirl about in my head for days afterward and I will spend the following week musing on the power of love to tame the wounded heart of a tortured soul. Which is where I am today. At the musing part.
I lived in the UK in the late ’80s/early ’90s, an hour west of London, for three wonderful years while my husband was active duty in the Air Force. In our final year there, we snagged last minute tickets to see Phantom at Her Majesty’s on the West End. The performance left me undone. I was completely mesmerized by the scope of the production – the music, the vocals, the costumes, the chandelier, and of course, the story.
The Phantom of the Opera is a love story, but not a story of romantic love. Despite the Phantom’s romantic obsession with the beautiful Christine, this is not a story of romance and desire. The Phantom thinks he is in love with Christine, but in truth he is desperate for acceptance. He wants to be wanted. Isn’t this the cry of every soul? Not so much to be the heart of someone’s desire, but to be the desire of someone’s heart?
When the story is at its zenith, the point of no return as it were, when Raoul is seconds from death and the Phantom demands Christine sacrifice her freedom to save him, the most pivotal line is uttered. Christine realizes the Phantom has known only isolation. His whole life. The pitiful creature of darkness has known only suffocating solitude. And within him is this tiny bloom of beauty – his music – and he has never heard anyone tell him how beautiful the bloom is. When Christine walks toward him, asking God for courage, she endeavors to show the Phantom he is not what he thinks he is. He is not alone.
Her kiss and the swell of the music at that moment left me breathless in my seat. It still does – every time I hear it and I picture the isolated man feeling the touch of intimate human love for the first time in his life. Not sex. Love. Sex is often the expression of love, but love is first and foremost the embrace of the other simply for who they are.
It changes him. In a heartbeat.
That is the best story ever. It is the story of all stories. It is the story of us. It is the story God began in us and continues in us. We were meant to be loved. And to give love.
It changes us. Makes us drop the mask. . .