This is not a chapter of the En Position narrative, but is an experience I – as a writer, but mostly as a fellow Phantom enthusiast – want to share with you.
As a present for our two year anniversary, my boyfriend took me to Paris for the weekend, because he knows how obsessed I am with the Phantom. Therefore, apart from doing the typically tourist things people do in Paris, we also visited the Opera Populaire – or Garnier Palais, if you will.
For anyone who is ever planning on going to Paris, I highly recommend you to visit the Opera building. Even if one is not interested in the story of the Phantom of the Opera, the building's architecture is magnificent, so you can also take your mother, friend or boyfriend/girlfriend if they are not as enthralled by the Phantom of the Opera as you are. If you are visiting, I strongly advise you to take the guided tour (there are tours in English, although I must say the tour guide's accent was horrible!) because the guide really explains a lot about the building in general, but also about the story of the Phantom of the Opera.
I must say I was at first rather disappointed that we wouldn't get to see things like the dormitories or for example the catacombs of the Opera House or box 5 from the inside, but I suppose it is rather understandable that they won't show you those, especially if you take into consideration that the Opera Populaire is still used to perform ballet.
Now, to get to the point, I want to share with you what the tour guide told us about the affairs concerning the Opera Ghost. The story that I will add below is completely written out of my recollections of the tour. Therefore it is possible that I get some of the smaller details wrong, but most of the large story line is correct.
The true story of the Phantom of the OperaThere once was a composer, apparently of great talent, who inspired his compositions about love on his muse; a young ballerina, who was part of the Ballet and Opera company. This company at the time resided at the Salle Le Peletier, which was the main Opera House of Paris at the time.
In the night of 29 October, in the year of 1873, a tragic fire destroyed the Opera House, as it had done to so many of its predecessors. The young ballerina died and the composer, both mentally and physically scarred, lost his mind. Now with a severely burned face and with despair in his heart, he left the Opera company and took refuge in the catacombs underneath the newly built Palais Garnier, which was inaugurated in the year of 1875. Here he lived, it is said, until he died.
Meanwhile, we know from fact that in the Opera Populaire – now the main Opera House since the Salle Le Peletier had burned down – several small accidents happened. Although it was never proved, these incidents were credited to the scarred composer living underneath the Opera House – now also referred to by some as the Fantôme or Ghost. These accidents included, for example, the partial fall of the chandelier in 1896 in the auditorium. Although, as is shown in the movie, it did not collapse on the public completely, one person was killed in the act; a woman, sitting on chair number 13. Another incident occurred later, in which a stagehand was found dead. Hanged. A third – and last, for the present being – incident happened when a couple of ballerinas fell from the stairs, from step number 13. All these accidents, and many more I assure you, were attributed to the Phantom of the Opera, even though evidence was never found.
If one were to wander about the Opera Populaire, one would find that when nearing the Emperor's box (which was never used by the emperor by the way), the door next to his, marking box number five, shows an extra message to the passersby. 'Loge du Fantôme de l'Opera'. Next to the amount of seats in the box and the box number another plate holds the word 'Louée' – or 'rented' in English. This box, no matter how much one is willing to pay, to this day is never rented to anyone, due to the belief that it is still rented by the Phantom.
All these things, and undoubtedly many more, give rise to the conclusion that the Phantom of the Opera, both the story and the man himself, are in some way real. A man did live under the Opera House, his life was one of misery and pain and he did lose the one woman he loved. Whether his name really was Erik, we shall probably never know, nor shall we know if he was the Opera Ghost we today believe him to be. But it is truth that up until this very day the staff at the Garnier Palais attribute certain incidents to the man that is known to us as the Phantom of the Opera and perhaps, that is enough to keep the hope in all of us alive.
(On my profile, I will post the link to a picture I took from box 5)