Note: I’ve since discovered that the story of Erik is more urban legend than fact, but as it’s still an intriguing tale, I’ve decided not to delete the post.
Most people know Phantom of the Opera is a popular musical, and a few people realize the play was based on Gastón Leroux’s book Le Fantôme de l’Opéra.
But did you know the famous Phantom was a real man?
Erik was born in a small French village with a horribly disfigured face. His parents abandoned him when he was eight. A circus captured him, and for seven years he was their star attraction.
After escaping, he worked as an architect’s assistant for many years, until he returned to France and was hired as one of the contractors for the Opera Garnier. Erik was now a gentleman in a tailored suit and cloak, who hid his deformed face behind a mask.
Much like the fictional Parisian opera house in Phantom, the Opera Garnier has underground tunnels and an underground lake. Erik reportedly lived in an apartment underneath the opera house, and had his own box seats, where he could watch the performances without being seen.
He fell in love with one of the singers, but was rejected, presumably because of his deformity. In desperation, he kidnapped the singer.
She was found three weeks later and soon left the city.
Legend has it that Erik was so devastated by the loss of the woman that he walled himself up in his apartment and died of starvation. Years later, his remains were apparently discovered by some workmen, who identified the long-suffering man from the gold ring he always wore.
Some people claim that Erik’s ghost still haunts the famous French Opera House.
Have you seen Phantom of the Opera or read the book? Do you like the story? Has anyone been to the Opera Garnier?