My First Phantom Cast (from August 2011)
Phantom: John Owen Jones
Christine: Sofia Escobar
Raoul: Oliver Eyre (u/s)
My Second Phantom Cast (from April 2012)
Christine: Katy Treharne (alt)
Raoul: Nadim Naaman (u/s)
My Third Phantom Cast (from August 2013)
Phantom: Marcus Lovett
Christine: Sofia Escobar
Raoul: Simon Thomas
Hi Elf! Oh, gosh, are you kidding! I love talking about the Little Lotte poem! :D
So for those of you who are unfamiliar with what we are referring to, in 1836, the Norwegian poet, Andreas Munch, wrote a poem called “Den første sorg,” or “The First Sorrow.” This poem started out, “Den lille Lotte tenkte på alt og ingenting,” or “Little Lotte thought of everything and nothing.” Sound familiar? :D Yes, this is the poem on which Gaston Leroux based Daddy Daaé’s story of Little Lotte.
In 1879, a French prose translation of Munch’s poem was included in a collection of Scandinavian poetry called Le roi Fialar. This is the book in which Leroux first encountered La petite Lotte (Little Lotte). Leroux then adapted this poem for use in The Phantom of the Opera.
The existence of “Den første sorg” was first brought to the attention of the phandom by the amazing Operafantomet back in the mid-2000s, I believe.
Note: in the English translation, you will notice that the word “butterfly” appears in the first stanza instead of “summer bird,” as in Leroux’s version. This is because a mistranslation was introduced into Le roi Fialar, which translated the Norwegian word “sommerfugl,” or “butterfly,” as “oiseau d’été,” or “summer bird.” To be fair (as I understand it), the words “sommer” and “fugl” taken separately do mean “summer bird.”
However, based on this mistranslation, Leroux was able to create parallels between Erik and Christine. By association with Lotte, Christine is a “oiseau d’été” (summer bird), and in Apollo’s Lyre, Leroux refers to her as a “hirondelle” (swallow). Then also in Apollo’s Lyre, Leroux (and Christine) refer to Erik as a “oiseau de nuit” (night bird), and Raoul states that he wants to nail Erik to the Lyre of Apollo like the Bretons nail owls to the walls of their farm houses. In this way, Leroux casts Christine and Erik as mirror reflections of each other; she is a bird of the day, and he a bird of the night.
Now, if you haven’t already, I want you to go read the English translation of the Little Lotte poem, and then come back to this post.
Have you read it? Okay, let’s move forward.
Now, to answer your question, Elf, Lotte and her bird each have parallels to both Erik and Christine. Further, they can at various points in the poem be seen simultaneously as Erik AND as Christine. You are spot on in your reading of Leroux’s use of Munch’s poem.
Leroux tells us that Christine is like Lotte, with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and charming, naive demeanor. We can also surmise, based on the substitution of the bird for the Angel of Music in Phantom, that there is a connection between Erik and the bird. (And of course, in both versions, there is a father who makes the acquaintance between the two of them.)
But here’s where it gets really interesting. Based on the events in the poem, we can also see strong parallels between Lotte and Erik, as Lotte nourishes, comforts, and loves her captive songbird, but doesn’t understand that the bird longs to be free as springtime approaches. And we can also see parallels between the bird and Christine, as the little creature slowly starts to perish due to its confinement.
Next, when the bird dies, there is once again a strong parallel between Lotte and Christine.
In “The First Sorrow,” Munch writes (in translation):
“And, at she stood there silent, she became so strange
Before her clear eyes a fog grew
The sweet childhood blush faded from her cheeks
And slowly from her heart a dark pain arose.
“She could not know, what this pain was;
But sorrow had written its first rune in her heart
And marked its image deep on her soft features
No longer did it disappear with her last tear.”
Similarly, in Phantom, Erik tells Christine (when she asks to hear his Don Juan Triumphant):
“Voyez-vous, Christine, il y a une musique si terrible qu’elle consume tous ceux qui l’approchent. Vous n’en êtes pas encore à cette musique-là, heureusement, car vous perdriez vos fraîches couleurs et l’on ne vous reconnaîtrait plus à votre retour à Paris.”
“You see, Christine, there is a music so terrible that it consumes all those who approach it. You have not yet encountered this music, fortunately, for you would lose your youthful glow and no one would recognize you upon your return to Paris.”
Erik’s warning that Christine would be so deeply affected by listening to his music that she would lose her “youthful glow,” and that no one would recognize her when she returned, seems to echo the transformation that Lotte undergoes when she experiences her first sorrow upon seeing her bird’s death.
Finally, in keeping with Leroux’s tradition of trope subversion, unlike Lotte’s bird, Christine does not die at the end of Phantom, but instead frees both herself AND her captor. She secures her liberty while at the same time allowing Erik to make his transformation from Beast to man. And in one last piece of role reversal, Erik as the dying Beast can again be seen as the dying bird (the beast of the wild), who must perish so that the man within him can be freed.
The Phantom’s dresser & makeup artist: Andrew and Pearleta: the best! (x)
The Trailer of The Phantom of the Opera animated feature by the Iluzija Animation Studio based on Gaston Leroux's novel of the same name.
There are two production studios working on this project, one in Melbourne and one in Belgrade. The creative team consists of over fifty people who already worked one and a half year on the movie which is done in traditional 2D animation.
More information about the Phantom of the Opera animated movie project. This is so exciting!