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OPERA

‘Curse of Phantom’ strikes as Paris theatre burns

The curse of Phantom of the Opera appears to have struck again with a fire at a Paris theatre on Sunday which is threatening to derail the musical's debut in France next month.

'Curse of Phantom' strikes as Paris theatre burns
Anthony Crivello and Elizabeth Loyacano in the New York production of Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Really Useful Group
The global sensation composed by Britain's Andrew Lloyd Webber was due to open at the Mogador theatre in Paris on October 13.
 
But a blaze that started under the stage of the Mogador on Sunday morning has thrown the plan into doubt, the theatre's management said in a statement. A fireman was injured bringing the fire under control.
   
A superstition has grown up over the years among theatre-makers and audiences that performances of “Phantom” are somehow cursed — in much the same way that actors shy away from uttering the name of Shakespeare's
“Macbeth”.
   
In 1896 a chandelier counterweight fell from the ceiling killing a patron at the Paris Opera House, inspiring Gaston Leroux to write the novel on which the “Phantom” musical is based.
   
The fire on Sunday damaged scenery for the upcoming production, along with part of the theatre's floor, the Mogador said.
 
“(It is) difficult to estimate the time needed for the repairs at the moment,” its statement said. “We will probably know tomorrow if we will need to delay the performance,” the theatre's director Laurent Bentata told AFP.
   
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
   
“The Phantom of the Opera”, which had its world premiere at Her Majesty's Theatre in London in 1986, is the most lucrative theatre venture of all time, grossing a reported $5.6 billion worldwide.
  

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OPERA

Paris Opera reopens doors after weeks of strikes

The Paris Opera reopened on Saturday night after weeks of strike action against the French government's pension reforms that have cost the arts organisation millions of euros in ticketing losses.

Paris Opera reopens doors after weeks of strikes
A publicity photo for Tales of Hoffmann. Photo: The Paris Opera
Dancers and musicians have been striking alongside public sector workers to oppose the government's plan to scrap more than 40 separate pension schemes and replace them with a single points-based system.
   
More than 70 shows have been cancelled since December at a loss of nearly 15 million euros ($16.5 million)  — greater than the state's annual contribution to the Opera pension fund.
   
But on Saturday night, its Bastille venue opened its doors for the Tales of Hoffman.
   
“To preserve the economic integrity of the Opera, we have made the decision to go ahead with the performance this evening, but we remain mobilised for the withdrawal of this bill,” said a union representative at the start of the performance, in a statement recorded by a spectator and posted on Twitter.
   
It is unclear whether other planned performances will now go ahead.
   
The special retirement plan for the Paris Opera, which allows dancers to bow out at age 42, was introduced in 1698 by king Louis XIV — making it among the oldest in France.
   
The retirement age was set by taking into account the physical arduousness of the job, the high injury risk, and the assumption that most dancers cannot continue performing at their best beyond a certain age.
   
The French state covers half of the Paris Opera's pension fund, about 14 million euros per year.
   
The cancellation of several top ballet, opera, and theatre shows in Paris has disappointed tourists and locals who need to book long in advance for the pricey seats.
   
Dancers have staged outdoor performances in Paris in a show of support for the public sector strikes, which have triggered weeks of transport chaos
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