Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Leverhulme Trust presents…
The Phantom on Film
As part of the V&A exhibition Opera: Passion, Power, Politics, Cormac Newark and three members of the Phantom on Film team disseminated their research in multimedia presentations for the public during the museum’s Opera weekender of events. Three connected sessions – each lasting 40 minutes and organised around the themes of space, genre, and musical ownership in the Phantom of the Opera screen narratives – shared some of the emerging results of the collaborative research taking place on this international project. It also showcased the musical talents of some of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s students who performed live songs taken from nine of the Phantom films featured in the presentations. The sessions interspersed commentary and film clips with performances by Erika Baikoff, Myramae Tapia Meneses, Louis Hurley, Jia Huang, Christopher Head, Michelle Marie Santiago, and Ed Rice, offering an interpretive window onto the dramatic traditions invoked in these film adaptations.
The first session focussed on the theme of Phantom Spaces with John Snelson, Head of Interpretation at the Royal Opera House, discussing the ideas of territory and space in the theatre – and indeed beyond – that are so important to the Phantom of the Opera phenomenon, ranging from Gaston Leroux’s original novel in 1909-10 to the very many Chinese adaptations on film and television.
The second session was structured around the transformations Leroux’s Fantôme has undergone over time and in different formats. In particular, Charlotte Gleghorn of the University of Edinburgh highlighted the satirical comedy-horror versions produced in Latin America and Cormac Newark the curious blend of genres in the 1989 horror film (dir. Little), which draws on intertextual slasher references to Nightmare on Elm Street.
The final session concluded the afternoon with a discussion of musical ownership and how this issue is treated differently across the Phantom film repertoire. Annette Davison of the University of Edinburgh explored this theme through re-tellings of the Phantom’s story in Hollywood, and more generally the place of music in the various cultures and societies represented in the films.