The Phantom of the Opera and Mental Health for Female Performers


Lee RossFollow

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Katharina Uhde


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


The Phantom of the Opera has remained a staple of musical theatre since it opened back in the 1980’s. From its monstrous set design to its lavish score, Phantom’s flair for the dramatic earned Andrew Lloyd Webber a place among musical theatre legends. One of the reasons that this show is so effective, however, is the well-developed cast of characters. The characters are well-rounded, allowing the audience to gain a sense of empathy and understanding when they are on stage. This is critical especially for Christine and Carlotta, the two opposing lead sopranos in the Opera Populair.

In studying Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera from a social and analytical perspective, I focus on the elements hidden within the story, that are emphasized by the score, that highlight the struggles faced by performers who are assigned female at birth (AFAB). These two ingenues experience a myriad of tragedies, from lost careers and deceased relatives to manipulation and mental anguish from the presence of the Phantom. I plan on examining these characters and the score through the lens of the mental health conversations we are having today. Authors, like Lynn Bradley and George Musgrave, have begun to evaluate how the performance industry can take its toll on performers, especially AFAB performers. This research, combined with research about The Phantom of the Opera by Sebnem Nazli Karali, could pave the way for a conversation around how this timeless musical can represent the difficult mental health landscape that exists for AFAB performers.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Lee Ross is a junior at Valparaiso University studying Music Education. During their time at Valparaiso University, Lee has co-authored a work in the field of music history that has been published in multiple languages. After graduating Valparaiso University, Lee hopes to teach general or choral music before pursuing postgraduate studies in music. This topic of study interested Lee because of their prior experience in the world of theater and music.

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