Far darker than the stories familiar to audiences of today from the phenomenally successful Broadway musical and the early Lon Chaney, Jr. film, Leroux's Fantom is a genuine murderer, and the story, a true Gothic murder/horror tale. Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, terrorizes the Opera Garnier (or Paris Opera House) by a successful multi-year blackmail plot. When new owners take over the Opera, Erik's reign of terror is abruptly curtailed. With this threat to his formerly comfortable living, and his budding, if bizarre relationship with the lovely soprano Christine Daee, coming to a halt, Erik takes drastic and murderous action. More complex, and far darker than the Broadway musical and film, some have criticized Leroux's novel for its deliberate Nineteenth century pace, and its talkiness. Others have found it fascinating and absorbing reading, with depths not to be found in the later, extraordinarily popular adaptations. The novel is partly inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century and an apocryphal tale concerning the use of a former ballet pupil's skeleton in Carl Maria von Weber's 1841 production of Der Freischutz."
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