March 28, 2014, by Eve

The Phantom of the Opera is My Essay

There’s something very satisfying when I realise you can write one of your final university essays on Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. And that is exactly what I am going to be doing for my third year module ‘Theatre Industry and Theatre Art’ – which I used to abbreviate as TATI, which I thought was awfully funny (tatty? Never mind…) until I realised I’d got the Industry and Art mixed up. phan2So now I’m back to TITA which sounds like some kind of cockney slang for a drunk.

In our lecture today – the lecture that I realised ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was within my gasp – was on ‘Les Mis’. Yep, we watched a clip of a load of Jean Valjean’s singing the same song in many different languages. The translation of the musical around the world has been very strictly monitored by the original London production group – mostly on things like set, music (obviously) and stage directions and characterisation. But translating the words of the song will ultimately be altered – words in different languages have different numbers of syllables so they won’t be translating the exact words from the London production, they’ll have to change them to fit the music. Yes, this is an obvious point but (vaguely) interesting. When we watch films with subtitles we’re never getting exactly the right words – try watching a film with a bilingual friend and you’ll realise that long, complex exchanges are condensed to ‘Hi, Jo’ – ‘How are you, Sid?’

But I was talking about musicals – and modules – two very separate aspects of my life which I phan1never imagined would become intertwined. I can now listen to the ‘Phantom’ soundtrack and call it research. Brilliant!

In a way I suppose it’s not so strange that my course started with analysing poems and ends with muddling over issues on the big stage – cultural studies have developed so far that it is now legitimate to study any element of popular culture, from literature to musicals. Similarly, it is not so odd – when I stop to think about it – that I should be learning and writing about something I love in my private time, don’t I love book? Isn’t that why I took this course in the first place?

I think this blog has returned to the subject of study what you love. And why not? I’m always studying and I can’t help loving it. Gosh! I’m such a nerd…

Posted in Eve