MANCHESTER >> The Arkel Pavillion at Southern Vermont Arts Center will be the site of a special performance by three singers who have played the role of the Phanthom of the Opera's "leading lady," on Saturday, Aug. 6.

It all began when Emperor Napoleon III decided to build a grand Opera house that would seat 2,500. In 1861 workers were preparing the foundation ran into a problem whereby an endless flow of water was creating swamp like conditions. They managed to create a large concrete water tank which was often referred to as an underground lake. Le Palais Garnier was finally completed in 1874.

In 1896 a counterweight from the huge chandelier fell, killing one of the workers. In 1911 Gaston Leroux a detective writer, published the book "The Fantome de 'Opera," inspired by the memories of this underground "lake" as well as the chandelier incident.

Ten years later in 1922 the President of Universal Pictures met Leroux while vacationing in France. After reading a copy of Leroux's book he decided to make it into a movie. In 1924 "The Phantom of The Opera" starring Lon Chaney began filming at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Originally a silent film, music and sound effects were added in 1930.


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The film was such a success that in 1945 it was rewritten and remade in Technicolor with Claude Rains. Then in 1985 Andrew Lloyd Webber, while browsing in a book store in New York City came across a faded original copy of Leroux's book. He found the book

so inspiring that he created a romantic musical score for his new wife Sara Brightman.

In 1986 the Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty's Theater in London starting Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford. In 1988 the show won 7 Tony awards including Best Musical.

For 30 years now Phantom has been the musical all others are measured against.The tireless story, the unforgettable score and an unbelievable obsession that does not seem to end. It is estimated that the Phantom has been seen by more than 145 million people and the total worldwide gross is now in excess of $6 billion.

Throughout the years numerous performers have played the role of Christine Daae, including Teri Bibb who has earned a Helen Hayes Award and a Carbonell award, Karen Culliver and Mary D'Arcy who played opposite the original Phantom, Michael Crawford.

Years ago Teri, Karen and Mary got the idea of creating a three soprano act, focusing on their friendship and their shared experience of playing the role of Christine. Among them they have performed that role over 4,000 times throughout the world.

They created a show called the "Phantoms Leading Ladies," a tune-filled evening that includes solos, duets and trios ranging from the Andrews Sisters, Broadway classics, to some popular Beatles tunes, not to mention some of the best songs from the Phantom of

the Opera. The show provides an evening of surprises and flirtatious fun with exquisite musicianship, humor and class.

Since their debut at the White House they have performed at the City of London Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, The Library of Congress and London's Albert Hall.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center will be performing at the Southern Vermont Arts Center on Saturday, Aug. 6. For more information, visit the arts center's website at svac.org.