Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Enigmatic Love Affair with The Phantom of The Opera: From Broadway to Fantasia

Welcome to my 3D review of The Phantom of The Opera!

It’s 3D not because you have to wear funny glasses to read it (but go ahead and put them on if you wish. I promise not to laugh. Too much. )

It’s 3D because I will be taking into 3 different dimensions:
• The Phantom of The Opera, the film, show, and work of art
• The BDSM undertones of the story (and there are many)
• My own personal connection to The Phantom,
which has spanned over a decade.

Modern Day, a few days back, Montreal.

The scene was the magnificent setting of Place des Arts. In a special partnership between The Fantasia International Film Festival & the Cinémathèque québecoise, a special pristine print of Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera (1925/29), was shown & accompanied by a 30 person orchestra directed by Gabriel Thibaudeau. Gabriel Thibaudeau, composer, conductor, and pianist for the Cinémathèque québécoise, created a glorious, thunderously compelling musical accompaniment to this beautiful classic silent film.

I had won two tickets to see this special version of The Phantom of The Opera and I was accompanied by my friend, the lovely LustyLuscious. I was very happy to have such good company for this Fantasia event and happy to have a fellow kinkster share my Phantom experience, for the first time. Particularly since my own journey with The Phantom over the years has been a solitary one. More about that later.

The fantastic music Thibaudeau created turned this cinematic event into an unforgettable night. The crowd jumped to their feet in unending applause for his wonderful achievement, and I was among the packed crowd of thrilled Fantasia movie goers. He captured the signature organ accent for the movie, along with a host of perfectly suited musical accents to accentuate the silent film’s dramatic moments.

As for the film itself, the highlight of the film was the creative genius of Lon Chaney’s acting. Yes, he did not disappoint with one of his very original & creative monstrous physical disguises as The Phantom, but his acting also featured such a heart-breaking humanity from a monster who loved and craved love so very much.

Mary Philbin, played a wonderfully over the top portrayal of The Phantom’s muse, Christine Daae. To my eyes, she physically resembled Celine Dion a little, and I could picture her thumping her chest in true Celine fashion as well. lol

Like most classic silent films, the film had many comic highlights. Such as the lurking, looming fez-wearing Inspector Ledoux, of the Paris Secret Police. Aren’t the Secret Police supposed to be, well secret and hide in the shadows? If you want to blend into the shadows, maybe you shouldn’t wear a fez so that you stick out from the crowd.

And a particularly hilarious moment was when Ledoux led Christine’s lover, the Vicomte de Chagny into the secret tunnels of the opera house, to save Christine from the Phantom’s grasp. Ledoux told Chagny they must hold a hand above their heads to ward against the Phantom’s noose, as he was wont to strangle those who opposed him. So the two of them crept along with a hand above their heads, which looked so much like the classic Bollywood “screwing in the lighbulb” move. Rather appropriate since The Phantom’s rope strangling was declared to be Indian. “Beware The Punjab Lasso!” we were told. I got a furious attack of the giggles suddenly, when I picture the silent film turning into a Bollywood spectacle all of a sudden. Too funny.

Altogether, this cinematic Phantom event was a triumphant success, for the whole Fantasia crowd, and for me, on a personal level.

For me, this was the second time I saw The Phantom immortalized on the big screen.

Fact is, I am quite a Phantom fan, and I have followed The Phantom of The Opera for a long, long time.

Flash-back to the end of 1997, Montreal.

After years of BDSM fantasizing, in 1997 I finally found someone to play with in real-time and real life. My Master. My very own Phantom.

One day, I was told to find and study the soundtrack to Webber’s Phantom of The Opera. Just the music. I was told to pay particular attention to the words of the songs, and the message of the music itself, and in particular told to study The Music of the Night. This soundtrack to the Broadway version was then used in my training and my lessons, as a submissive. I became my Master’s muse and his discovery. He discovered that I had a talent, not for singing like, Christine Daae, but for writing. My Master was the one who first encouraged me to write in the BDSM vein. For him, I composed stories and poetry. And I kept a journal for my journey with him, for his amusement and entertainment. My very first BDSM blog!

When I went to choose a soundtrack to Webber’s Phantom of The Opera to use, I did some research before I chose a version. I picked the version that was most acclaimed by critics, and what was the best one to my ear. It featured Michael Crawford and a very young Sarah Brightman. To my ear, Michael Crawford’s rendition of The Phantom was the most talented. His voice, when speaking or singing as The Phantom, was a gloriously full-bodied elegant and seductive one. I loved listening to him.

And as for Sarah Brightman, well…I felt a connection to her in so many ways. First of all, she was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s muse and discovery. He created The Phantom as a vehicle to feature her vocal talent. She was a young ingénue, who played a young ingénue. You can see so many parallels in the relationship between Andrew Lloyd Webber & Sarah Brightman, and The Phantom with Christine Daae.

And my own relationship with my Master mirrored that Creator/muse relationship pattern as well.

Flash-forward to some time after, the venue is New York and Broadway.

One day, I found myself in a weekend away in New York, with friends. Webber’s Phantom of The Opera was at the end of its run and I was bound & determined to see this story live, that had meant so much to me on my BDSM journey.

One of my friends & I had the incredible luck to nab 2 most excellent and reasonably priced tickets to this immortal Broadway classic. The only problem was that the seats were miles apart, with the whole theatre between us. But we agreed and went to the show.

In a sea of strangers in New York, I was bowled over by the gorgeous storm of The Phantom brought to life on the Broadway stage. And as I watched, I was bowled over by an unexpected storm of emotions that the show brought out of me. I sat there with tears tracking down my face as I thought of my own Phantom and wished with all my heart I could share this moment with him. I was incredibly happy and sad at the same time. It was an unforgettable moment in my life and BDSM journey.

Flash-forward to 2004, Montreal.

Time for me to finally see The Phantom on the big screen. I eagerly attended a showing of The Phantom of The Opera featuring the talents of Gerard Butler. The critics were not kind. They blasted Butler for his less than stellar singing talent. But I thought that was highly unfair. Of course one knew he was no Michael Crawford. But he did a very good job of acting as The Phantom, illustrating the Phantom’s heartbreak quite well. And well the added bonus was that Gerard Butler is a gorgeous man. So he played quite a Sexy Beast, I thought. I was content with my Phantom film fix.

The Phantom & The BDSM

Phantom of The Opera is indeed a twist on the classic Beauty and The Beast scenario. Alas, the beauty does not choose beast in the end, but chooses her other lover. Of course I always wished the beauty would choose the poor, yearning beast.

You can see so many BDSM elements in the story line. We have the Master and the one who serves his will. The Phantom is the Master of his domain, the Paris Opera House. Those who oppose him are swiftly punished. We even have dungeons at the bottom of the Opera House, and a torture room, in the room of mirrors that we see in the Lon Chaney silent film version. I couldn’t help but notice all the rope lying around in this movie version as well. And there are lots & lots of role-playing in the story, since the story features actors and acting of roles.

For myself, there is even an Angel in the story. The Angel of Music. See Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version. And my Master is the first one to call me Angel. You can read about the roots of my name here.

As for my Master being my Phantom. Ah well. You will find very true traces of my Master in this blog. So he is a Phantom here as well, of sorts.

And all that is about why I love and will always love The Phantom of The Opera.

Kinky kisses,
Angel :)

No comments: