The Phantom of the Opera is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. It was later adapted into a 2004 motion picture of the same name co-written and directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Gerard Butler with Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson.
The musical, like the novel and other adaptations, focuses on the naïve singer Christine Daaé as she is seduced by a disfigured musical genius known as "The Phantom of the Opera." The Phantom lives underneath an Opera house and terrorizes those who work there, demanding Christine be the star of the theatre's productions. When the young singer rebuffs the Phantom's advances and her lover Raoul intervenes, the Phantom sets no limitations in his quest for revenge and Christine's love.
To date, it is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time, with total worldwide box office takings of over £1.8bn ($3.2bn). Having premiered in 1988, it is currently the longest running show on Broadway, surpassing another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats.
The Phantom of the Opera was inspired by a different musical version of the same story, by Ken Hill, which Andrew Lloyd Webber saw at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1984. The music for Lloyd Webber's own version was composed specially for the voice of his wife at the time, singer Sarah Brightman. The original creative team included Andrew Lloyd Webber (music and book), Richard Stilgoe (book), Charles Hart (lyrics), Hal Prince (direction), Gillian Lynne (musical staging and choreography) and Maria Björnson (production design). Around the same time, many other rival productions of the Phantom story were started, which had not occurred in any other stage show since the early 20th Century. 
The musical was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group and opened at Her Majesty's Theatre in London on October 9, 1986, where it still runs as of 2006. It was taken to Broadway in 1987 and officially opened at the Majestic Theatre on January 26, 1988 where it still runs as of 2006 and is the longest running Broadway musical of all time. The three original London leads, Michael Crawford (the Phantom), Sarah Brightman (Christine) and Steve Barton (Raoul), reprised their roles in the original Broadway production. 
The Phantom of the Opera was part of the major British influence on Broadway in the 1980s along with Cameron Mackintosh productions such as Cats, Miss Saigon, and Les Misérables.
With the worldwide gross of US $3.3 billion and attendance of 80 million, The Phantom of the Opera holds the record of the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time. It has earned more than the top-grossing film of all time, Titanic, by US $2 billion. The New York production alone has played to an attendance of eleven million people and grossed US $600 million, making it the most financially successful Broadway show in history.
Despite early negative reviews, including a pan by Frank Rich of the New York Times, both the New York and London productions are still running today; Rich often cites this fact to illustrate that the supposed influence of the Times is not as large as some think.
In London, Phantom was highly successful at the 1986 Olivier Awards, where it won prizes for Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical. At the 1988 Tony Awards, the Broadway production was nominated for eleven awards and won seven, including the coveted Best Musical award. Phantom also did well at the 1988 Drama Desk Awards, where it won seven awards. 
On January 9, 2006, the New York production surpassed Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats as Broadway's longest-running show with its 7,486th performance. 
In the UK, Phantom came in second in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera has been translated into several languages and produced in over twenty countries on six continents. With one exception, these productions have all been "clones," i.e., they use the original staging, direction, sets and costume concepts. 
An edited 95-minute, intermission-less version of the show, called Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular opened at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on June 24, 2006. This production, which was directed by original director Harold Prince, features state-of-the art technology and effects, and a custom-built theater made to look like the Paris Opera House. 
Two touring companies of The Phantom of the Opera are currently on the road; one in the United States and Canada; the other in Southeast Asia. 
Cast recordings of the original London, Canadian, Korean, Dutch, Swedish, Hungarian and Japanese companies, among others, have been released.
A film version was released in December 2004 starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom, Emmy Rossum as Christine, Patrick Wilson as Raoul and Minnie Driver as Carlotta. 
NB: This information refers solely to the characters as portrayed in the stage show. For information on the characters of the 2004 film version, please see The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film); for information on the original characters, please see The Phantom of the Opera's main page.
The Phantom of the Opera (tenor/baritone) also known as "The Ghost of the Opera", "Opera Ghost" and "Erik" in the original novel — The genius composer and musician who lives beneath the opera house. Facially deformed from birth, the Phantom hides behind a white mask and is known to the managers and actors as the "Opéra Ghost".
Although the role of The Phantom is normally played by a tenor, he has been played by baritones numerous times, including Gerard Butler in the film version and Howard McGillin who holds the record for most performances in the role on Broadway (over 1,200). Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS briefly played the role of The Phantom in the Toronto production during its last few months. 
Christine Daaé (soprano) — A chorus girl at the Opéra Populaire, and the daughter of a prominent violinist. Although talented, she lacks focus until the Phantom takes her under his wing and teaches her to sing.
Alternates and doubles:
The role of Christine Daae is generally shared by two performers; the regular actress performs six times a week and the alternate performs at the other two performances. This practice was started by the original London and Broadway Christine Daae, Sarah Brightman, ostensibly due to the vocal demands of the role, following a schema utilized by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the original production of Evita. The only actress ever allowed to perform the role without an alternate that performed twice a week was Dale Kristien, who originated the role in the Los Angeles production.
Some productions, such as those in Copenhagen and Budapest, have also employed alternates for the role of the Phantom.
Both the Phantom and Christine have two sets of doubles during the "Phantom of the Opera" number in the show. The first appear just as Christine steps through the mirror with the Phantom. Their doubles then appear running from stage left to stage right. The next doubles descend the staircase. The real actors appear at the end of the song in the boat. The Phantom/Christine vocals for this number are, by necessity, pre-recorded.
NB: This synopsis refers solely to the unedited stage version of the show; for information on the 2004 film, which differs slightly, please see The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film)
The musical opens on the bare stage of the Opera Populaire in Paris in 1911. An auction is underway, and set pieces from the old theatre are being sold. Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, an elderly man in a wheelchair, purchases a unique monkey music box that seems to hold special meaning for him. Another item up for auction is an old chandelier. The auctioneer mentions that the chandelier was involved in the "strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained." He illuminates the chandelier and it rises to the ceiling of the theatre (Overture). Sets and curtains rise from the stage floor, and the action shifts to 1881. The Opera Populaire is active and open, and a rehearsal for Hannibal is underway with Carlotta, Piangi and the ballet chorus. Monsieur Lefevre, the owner, arrives and announces that he has sold the theatre to two new managers, Monsieurs Firmin and Andre. They observe two of the ballet dancers, Meg Giry and her friend, Christine Daae, with some curiosity. Andre is taken with the diva Carlotta, and asks her to sing an aria as a special favor ("Think of Me"). She complies, but in the middle of the song, a backdrop suddenly falls dangerously close to her. The entire company is thrown into chaos, blaming the accident on the Opera Ghost. Carlotta is badly shaken. She tells the managers that she has dealt with such incidents for several years, and that she has no desire to continue the practice. She quits, taking Piangi with her. A quick consult with Reyer reveals that there are no understudies for Carlotta. The managers lament having to cancel the show, but Meg quickly suggests that they consider Christine. While they do not wish to entertain the idea at first, Madame Giry convinces them to listen to her sing. Christine starts her song tentatively but eventually impresses the entire company with her voice and is given the role. The lights dim, and Christine walks downstage in full costume, performing in the opera. The managers and Raoul look on from the stage box. Raoul is particularly impressed; he remembers Christine from their childhood exploits and is thrilled to see her again ("Think of Me (continued)"). After the performance, Madame Giry praises Christine and castigates the ballet girls, forcing them to practice into the night. Meg sneaks away from the rehearsal to find Christine outside her dressing room. She expresses her delight in her friend's change of fortune, but wonders how it came about. Christine tells Meg that she has been visited by the Angel of Music, a mysterious figure who brings her joy and frightens her at the same time. The two discuss the issue in song ("Angel of Music") until Madame Giry arrives to retrieve Meg and deliver a note from Raoul.
The managers bring Raoul to Christine's dressing room. She is pleased to see him, and reminisces with him about times past ("Little Lotte"). He invites her to dinner, in spite of her protests, and leaves her to get dressed for the outing. When Raoul leaves, the Phantom makes his presence in the room and his displeasure known ("Angel of Music/The Mirror"). Christine pleads for his forgiveness and begs the Phantom to show himself. He complies, revealing himself behind Christine's mirror. The mirror panel slides back, revealing a tunnel; the Phantom extends his hand and Christine follows him behind the mirror. Raoul returns, only to find the dressing room empty. The Phantom brings Christine through a series of underground tunnels and, finally, across a lake filled with candles ("The Phantom of the Opera"). They eventually arrive at his subterreanean lair, where he entreats her to sing for him. He explains his love of music and darkness to Christine, seducing her with his voice and words ("Music of the Night"). He shows her a mannequin he has crafted in her image, wearing a wedding dress; the sight is too startling to her and she faints. The next morning, Christine sees the Phantom bent over his organ, composing ("I Remember..."). She decides to unmask him and is horrified by his deformed appearance. The Phantom rounds on her and chases her about the lair; they finally both fall to the ground in tears. Sobbing, the Phantom tries to explain that he only wants to be like everyone else, and that he hopes she will learn to love him in spite of his face. She returns his mask and the two have a moment of understanding before he abruptly decides to return her to the surface. The two exit ("Stranger than You Dreamt It"). As the Phantom and Christine sneak back into the theatre, Joseph Buquet regales the ballet girls with terrible tales of the mysterious Opera Ghost ("Magical Lasso"). Madame Giry warns him to keep quiet about the Ghost for his own sake.
In the managers' office, Firmin, Andre, Raoul and Carlotta puzzle over several cryptic notes they have received from "O.G." ie, the Opera Ghost. Raoul blames the managers for his note, which warns him to stay away from Christine. Carlotta accuses Raoul of sending her letter, which demands that she relinquish her leading role in the Opera to Christine. Madame Giry arrives with another note, in which the Phantom tells the managers to keep Box Five free for him, give the leading role in the opera Il Muto to Christine, and relegate Carlotta to a silent bit part ("Notes"). Carlotta accuses Raoul of orchestrating the whole event and claims that he has had an affair with Christine. The managers promise her that she will keep her leading role, and attempt to woo her back to the opera through extreme flattery ("Prima Donna"). At Il Muto that night, Carlotta indeed plays the role of the Countess; Christine is the mute pageboy. Raoul boldly decides to sit in Box Five to watch the show. The performance goes off according to plan ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh") until the Phantom appears on the proscenium arch. He taunts Carlotta and finally steals her voice, making her croak like a toad. She flees, hysterical, in Piangi's arms, and the managers promise that the show will resume with Christine as the Countess. The ballet chorus is sent out to entertain the waiting crowd, but their performance turns dark when their pastoral backdrop lifts to reveal the corpse of Joseph Buquet hanging from the rafters with a noose around his neck. In the ensuing melee, Christine finds Raoul and takes him to the roof where they will be safe.
On the roof, a terrified Christine tries to tell Raoul that she has seen the Phantom and been to his home ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Raoul does not believe her, but promises to love and protect her always ("All I Ask of You"). Christine returns his affection and the two make plans to see each other after the show. After Christine and Raoul head back downstairs, the Phantom emerges from behind a stone angel on the roof. It is apparent that he has heard the entire conversation. He is heartbroken over the loss of Christine, but eventually the sorrow turns to rage and he vows vengeance("All I ask of You (Reprise)"). Returing to the theatre, he sends the chandelier crashing down on the stage during the curtain call. Raoul pulls Christine out of the way in the nick of time.
The managers and company of the Opera converge on the grand staircase for a lavish New Year's masquerade ball ("Masquerade"). Christine and Raoul are now engaged. Christine insists on keeping this a secret and hides her ring on a necklace, to Raoul's dismay. At the height of the action, the Phantom enters, dressed as The Masque of the Red Death. He announces that he has written an opera, and that he expects the managers to produce it ("Why So Silent...?"). He also confronts Christine and rips her engagement ring from her neck before disappearing. Raoul confronts Madame Giry and convinces her to tell him about the Phantom. She reveals a few key secrets, but will not divulge all she knows. The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant, causes chaos and arguments among the managers and actors. Christine, who has the largest part in the work, tells the managers she does not wish to perform. Raoul backs her, until he realizes that they can use the opera as a trap to capture the Phantom ("Notes/Twisted Every Way"). Meanwhile, the Phantom makes his presence known in the manager's office, the rehearsals and on the stage.
Christine visits her father's grave in Perros to try to make sense of the situation ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears and sings to her ("Wandering Child"). The Phantom very nearly has her under his spell again when Raoul enters the scene and shakes Christine back to reality before she reaches the Phantom. The two men verbally spar, while the Phantom shoots fireballs down at Raoul, but Christine persuades Raoul to run away with her and ends the confrontation. Enraged, the Phantom declares that they are both his enemies now. With Raoul's preparations in place and the police on hand, Don Juan Triumphant begins ("Don Juan"). Christine, playing the lead opposite Piangi, appears onstage to sing ("Point of No Return"). Halfway through her duet with "Don Juan," she realizes she is actually singing with the Phantom and that Piangi must be dead. The Phantom gives her a ring and expresses his love. Christine responds by ripping his mask off. Before the police can intervene, the Phantom whisks Christine offstage. Chaos ensues. Piangi is discovered, and a mob sets out to track down the Phantom once and for all. Madame Giry finds Raoul, takes him to the bridge above the lake, and tells him where to find the Phantom. She warns him of the Punjab Lasso, telling him to keep his "hand at the level of (his) eyes."
Down in the lair, the Phantom has forced Christine to put on the wedding dress. He intends to keep her as his bride, but notes that he has been "denied the joys of the flesh" ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer"). Raoul arrives, having swum across the lake. The Phantom admits him to the lair, and then snares him in the Punjab Lasso. The Phantom offers Christine a choice: if she refuses his affections Raoul will die; if she accepts them, Raoul will live but she will be trapped there forever. In the denouement the three sing: the Phantom insisting that there is only one choice, Raoul apologizing and expressing his love for Christine, and Christine pleading with the Phantom to change his mind. Finally, Christine makes her choice and kisses the Phantom. Stunned by the kiss and touched by Christine's kindness, he sets Raoul free and tells him to take Christine away immediately. He asks them both to swear to keep his existence a secret. As Christine and Raoul leave, the music box begins to play. Christine returns alone, but only to return the Phantom's ring. He tells her that he loves her, and she forces herself to turn away. She and Raoul leave in the Phantom's boat, and he sits down in his chair, pulling his cape around himself. The mob arrives at the Phantom's lair, climbing down the portcullis. Meg slips through the bars in the gate and runs over to the Phantom's chair. Pulling back the cape, she discovers it empty, save for the Phantom's white mask. 
List of musical numbers