Don Juan Triumphant

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Don Juan Triumphant is the name of a fictional piece of music written by the title character in the novel The Phantom of the Opera. In the musical adaptation, the concept is expanded as an opera within a musical.

Contents

The novel

In the novel by French novelist Gaston Leroux, Don Juan Triumphant (French: Don Juan triomphant) is an unfinished piece that the Phantom had been working on for a period of 20 plus years. At one point, he remarks that once he completes it, he will take the score into the coffin he uses for a bed and never wake up. The Phantom plays a section of his opera following his unmasking at the hands of Christine Daaé, who is stunned by the power of the music.

The narrator comments that the score was never found in the 30 years since the Phantom's death, and speculates that it may still be in his house next to the subterranean lake beneath the Paris Opera. Gaston Leroux had thought he had found the remains of Erik, but without notes/letters from Christine Daae, the Persian, and others he would not have found them.

The musical

In the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber,[1] Don Juan Triumphant figures prominently in the second act as an opera within a musical and is a thinly veiled adaptation of Mozart's Don Giovanni which premiered in Prague in 1787, only told from Don Juan's point of view.[2] In this version, the Phantom forces the opera company to stage his work and orders Christine, a Swedish soprano and his protege with whom he is in love with, to be cast in the lead role. She reluctantly agrees to do so only after her fiance, Raoul, devises a plan to catch the Phantom during the opening night performance.

Only a small portion of the opera is seen onstage, in which Don Juan (played by leading tenor Ubaldo Piangi) and his servant, Passarino, make plans for Don Juan's seduction of the maiden Aminta (Christine). Passarino, dressed as Don Juan and hiding his face, is the one who made her acquaintance. According to the plan, he is to leave the house before Aminta arrives for a dinner with Don Juan, who has assumed Passarino's identity. Passarino, pretending to be Don Juan, will announce his return later, prompting Don Juan (pretending to be Passarino) to suggest that Aminta hide with him in a bedroom to avoid being found. As soon as Piangi slips into a hiding place to await the start of the scene, he is quietly strangled by the Phantom, who takes his place and sings "The Point of No Return" with Christine before declaring his love in front of the whole audience. The opera breaks up into chaos when she exposes his horribly deformed face and Piangi's body is found, leading to the finale of the musical ("Down Once More"/"Track Down This Murderer").

In the film adaptation of the musical, the audience at the opera house is seen recoiling in shock at the jarring discordance and shocking staging of Don Juan Triumphant, which is very different from the opera stagings they are used to.

In other works

In Susan Kay's 1990 novel Phantom, it is mentioned that it was a piece solely based on passion and anger, as Erik's (the Phantom) childhood gypsy captor sardonically nicknamed him "Don Juan". When Christine hears Erik playing it, he remarks, "...I raped her with my music."

In Nicholas Meyer's 1993 novel The Canary Trainer, Sherlock Holmes attempts to recover the Phantom's copy of Don Juan Triumphant from beneath the Paris Opera, but is unable to locate it.

In Frederick Forsyth's 1999 novel The Phantom of Manhattan, which is a sequel to the musical, it is stated that Don Juan Triumphant was never performed again after its debut performance in the musical. During the novel, Erik composes a second play for Christine to perform, The Angel of Shiloh, about a love triangle between a Virginian plantation-owner's daughter, a deformed Connecticut officer, and a Virginian cavalryman set during the Battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War.

References