Analysis Of Lloyd Webber 's ' The Phantom Of The Opera '
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Lloyd Webber’s widely regarded masterpiece Phantom Of The Opera uses key motifs and themes throughout the musical to establish its characters and scenes in an effective manner. Throughout the production the motifs, themes and songs all develop to reflect the changes their respective characters undergo. This is particularly evident when analysing The Phantom, his motifs and songs, and how they develop throughout the story.
Lloyd Webber has connected many reprises and motifs with The Phantom, all used for different purposes throughout the musical. During the opening auction scene set in 1905, Webber establishes the mood and atmosphere through the use of the three key motifs; the masquerade motif, mysterious phantom motif and the Phantom of the Opera motif. All three serve a distinct role in establishing The Phantom as a character. The first piece of music heard in The Phantom Of The Opera is the masquerade motif, when it is played on the monkey music box. During this first hearing the motif is accompanied by complete silence, thus having an extremely thin texture. Additionally, it is played at a comfortable yet quiet dynamic and finishes with a slight use of rubato and a diminuendo. When combined with major key and high pitch used, these techniques create a rather mellow and nostalgic melody, whilst seeming cheerful at the same time. Being an auction piece from years ago, this eludes to the happiness that had accompanied the original performance of Masquerade. This effectively establishes the masquerade motif, allowing for later development of it to reflect the changes the phantom undergoes.
The second motif Lloyd Webber introduces is the mysterious Phantom motif, sung by Raoul, which directly contrasts the prior masquerade motif....
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...he first playing the motif is once again extremely soft, eerie and ominous. Having risen to the height of his power and now being hunted in his lair, the Phantoms last words are the sung masquerade motif accompanied by the music box. Once again the motif is thinly layered, and extremely soft, which contrasts the bright and cheerful nature of the masquerade performance at the beginning of act two. This eerie motif thus signifies not only the beginning of the Phantoms existence, but now also the end, as he once again disappears to become nothing more than a legend for those part of the opera.
As evidenced above, Lloyd Webber uses multiple key motifs to not only establish the Phantom as a character, but also to reflect and depict the development and changes he undergoes. For this reason and many others The Phantom Of The Opera is received as such a successful musical.