A complete guide to all the songs in 'The Phantom of the Opera'
Learn more about the songs in The Phantom of the Opera, including "Masquerade," "All I Ask of You," "The Music of the Night", and "Think of Me."
It’s time to listen to the music of the night – otherwise known as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s soaring score for his all-conquering 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera. Featuring lyrics by Charles Hart, and a libretto co-written by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, it’s an epic adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel about a masked genius lurking in the sewers beneath the Paris Opera House in the late 19th century.
That lurker would be the Phantom: the musical mentor of young soprano Christine. She becomes the centre of a passionate love triangle, pursued both by the Phantom and by her childhood friend-turned-wealthy patron, Raoul. The show opened in the West End starring Sarah Brightman, Michael Crawford and Steve Barton, and went on to win Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Musical. Find out more about The Phantom of the Opera in London.
Phantom continues to enchant audiences: it’s the longest-running show in Broadway history, and the second-longest-running musical in the West End following Les Misérables. Part of its appeal is the sheer opulent scale, including that famous chandelier. But key to its success, too, is Lloyd Webber’s mighty operatic score. Follow us down into the Phantom’s lair (via His Majesty's Theatre) as we guide you through the show’s indelible songs.
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“Hannibal Dress Rehearsal”
Phantom has a recurring show-within-a-show element. We open with the fictional cast rehearsing a new production, Hannibal, starring prima donna Carlotta. This scene also packs in some speedy exposition, introducing the audience to the opera house’s new owners, Firmin and Andre, and new patron, the Vicomte de Changy (also known as Raoul) — and also telling us that orphan Christine’s father was a famous violinist. It sets the template for a musical that will constantly whisk between onstage and backstage.
“Think of Me”
Carlotta storms off after a backdrop crashes down from the flies, and Christine takes over her role for that evening’s performance. “Think of Me” is her big aria, but its wistful lyrics also spur Raoul to recognise her as his childhood friend, and to wonder if she too remembers their shared past. It adds emotional heft to — and complicates — Christine’s triumph.
“Angel of Music”
Christine reveals to Meg (daughter of the ballet mistress Madame Giry) that she has a secret tutor, who she calls the Angel of Music. She believes it’s the spirit of her late father — a naïve idea encapsulated by this dreamy little number.
The Angel of Music becomes a point of reconnection for Christine and Raoul when he visits her in her dressing room and asks her out to dinner. Both remember the stories that her father used to tell them, and the song “Little Lotte” that he taught her to sing. He assumes it’s all a fantasy, whereas Christine thinks it’s actually real.
Enter the Phantom — and an angry, jealous Phantom. He’s furious that Raoul is sharing in his triumph, and lures Christine away. She meets his fury with a sweet reprise of “Angel of Music.” Finally, he reveals himself to her in her mirror and takes her away.
“The Phantom of the Opera”
The almighty title number! It’s a key duet between Christine and the Phantom as they explore their dynamic: the Phantom has embedded himself in her psyche, and he takes credit for her glorious voice, while she characterises herself as his mask. The music echoes this tussle: both beautiful and ominous, grand as the Opera House and eerie as the sewers.
“The Music of the Night”
After travelling by boat to his hidden lair, the Phantom reveals that he has selected Christine as his muse — and shows her an image in the mirror where she’s wearing a wedding dress. It’s all too much: Christine faints. That brings out the Phantom’s caring side, as he covers her with his cloak and croons this tender song. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll find a sinister juxtaposition between the seductive music and his intent, which is to seduce her with his genius and trap her in the dark with him.
“I Remember”/ “Stranger Than You Dreamt It”
Christine wakes to hear the monkey music box (the one that Raoul will see at the auction in the show’s prologue). As the Phantom sits at the organ, composing his next opus, Christine creeps up to him and removes his mask – revealing his disfigured face. The Phantom roars at her anger, then this tune softens as he admits he yearns to be loved.
“Notes”/ “Prima Donna”
Andre, Firmin and Raoul are all fretting about the mysterious disappearance of their sopranos. But the Phantom has written a series of notes, demanding Christine become the star of his new opera, not Carlotta. The owners appease a furious Carlotta, assuring her that she won’t be replaced. It’s a busy number with lots of cross-currents (and a fun piece of epistolary farce) – a nice contrast to the serious songs we’ve just heard in the sewers.
“Why Have You Brought Me Here?”
After the Phantom sabotaged the performance by reducing Carlotta’s voice to a croak, Christine drags Raoul to the rooftop and confesses all about the Phantom and his dangerous obsession with her. Raoul still thinks it was just a dream.
“All I Ask of You”
Now Raoul gets his big moment – and it’s the polar opposite to the Phantom’s “Music of the Night”. He says that daylight (not the darkness) will dry her tears, and that he will be her shelter and her light. Instead of wanting to control her, he simply asks to be a part of her life. That sentiment is matched by a sweet, gentle, sincere tune – and when Christine matches it, their romance takes flight.
“All I Ask of You (Reprise)”
Uhoh. The Phantom was spying on them and he now uses their love song with which to swear revenge. Watch out for Act Two...
“Masquerade”/ “Why So Silent?”
Phantom’s second half opens six months later, and in grand style: with a masquerade ball. Masks are being used playfully (as exemplified by the jaunty patter sections with swift, teasing lyrics), and the general tone is jubilant: Christine and Raoul are engaged, and all is well. At least, until the Phantom gate-crashes the party. He has a new opera for them, but demands Christine star – and return to him.
“Notes”/ “Twisted Every Way”
Another knotty plotting number, but the tone is now sombre. Christine is scared that she’s become the Phantom’s prey, and Raoul entreats her to use the opera to trap the Phantom. Will she betray her mentor?
“Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”
Her loyalties divided, Christine visits her father’s grave. After the frantic opening action, it’s a slow, shimmering number that shifts between warmth and aching melancholy. It’s also an important part of Christine reckoning with the past: in one way or another, she’s been haunted throughout the show, and (in the song’s big climax) now needs to find the strength to fight for her future.
The Phantom isn’t going away just yet. He appears to Christine in the cemetery, once again seducing her with the power of his voice and “Angel of Music” genius – until Raoul breaks the spell.
“Don Juan Triumphant”/ “The Point of No Return”
That’s the title of the Phantom’s new opera, which we now hear rehearsed by Christine, Carlotta and the chorus. The Phantom gate-crashes once again, taking on the part of Don Juan so he can sing lyrics with a double meaning to Christine: “In your mind you’ve already succumbed to me… no use resisting: abandon thought, and let the dream descend.” But are they really “past the point of no return”?
The Phantom then uses a reprise of “All I Ask of You” to propose to Christine. However, before he can finish, she unmasks him – and they discover the corpse of the actor he murdered. Game over.
“Down Once More”/ “Track Down This Murderer”
As an angry mob vows to hunt down the Phantom, he escapes to his lair with a captive Christine. Raoul follows, and the Phantom threatens to kill him unless Christine stays. Finally, Christine realises the truth: his haunted face holds no horror for her – it’s in his soul “that the true distortion lies”. She decides to show him pity and kindness, and kisses him.
That thaws the Phantom’s heart, and he releases the two of them; they depart with a final reprise of “All I Ask of You,” leaving the Phantom alone with his “Music of the Night.”
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Photo credit: The Phantom of the Opera (Photo courtesy of production)
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