To compare The Phantom of the Opera and its new sequel, Love Never Dies, it may be instructive to compare lyrics.
In The Phantom of the Opera's "All I Ask of You," Raoul and Christine create their own romantic dream world. Raoul presents himself as a prince: "I'm here; nothing can harm you. My words will warm and calm you." Christine wants Raoul by her side all the time: "Say you love me every waking moment."
Ten years later, in Love Never Dies, Christine gives more mature advice to her son Gustave: Don't be deceived by appearances. "So look with your heart, and not with your eyes. The heart understands; the heart never lies."
Although The Phantom of the Opera is sublime to watch and listen to, its message is facile: Choose the handsome normal suitor over the brilliant but deformed and murderous sociopath.
Love Never Dies' lesson: Don't expect some prince to save you. Hold on to the people that give you art and love, since they make our short lives more worthwhile.
Raoul's courtship of Christine apparently ended with their wedding. Ten years later, he is an alcoholic and regularly snaps at Christine. He has gambled away all of their money.
The Phantom, on the other hand, no longer is leaving behind threatening notes. In Coney Island, where he runs the theater, he is focused on the things that make him more whole: his music and his love for Christine.
The Phantom's love for Christine had not been unrequited after all. In fact, they had made love on a night soon before Christine's wedding. But the Phantom, ashamed, had left before Christine could tell him that she loved him.
When Christine sees the Phantom again, she sings with resignation, "Once upon that other time, we did what we thought must be done. And now we have no choice. We do what we must do."
This musical is a polemic for being brave and seizing the moment to tell the people you love that you care about them. If you get rejected, you may get embarrassed--but losing the opportunity at a fulfilling relationship seems more dire. Without love, life becomes meaningless.
In Love Never Dies, the lives of Christine, Raoul, and the Phantom are on display for us to not to repeat their mistakes.
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