For those of you who may not be familiar with Madame Giry or even not with the story of the Phantom of the Opera, I will try to answer some of your questions about her and how she is involved in the legend on this page.
In the original tale of the Phantom, Madame Giry is an aging woman who has been assigned to be the caretaker of the box seating in the Paris Opera House. She has one daughter, Meg Giry, who has black hair and has become, though the assistance of the elusive Opera Ghost, the lead dancer of the Opera's ballet corps. Madame Giry is a widow, he husband, Monsieur Jules, having died from an unknown cause before this story takes place.
Madame Giry is portrayed as an 'accomplice' of the Opera Ghost and carries messages from him to the managers - and also transfers the Ghost's monthly 'salary' of 20,000 Francs. Though she has never seen him, ever since she first heard the Ghost speak to her, Madame Giry has been impressed by his beautiful voice and mastery over the Opera House. He has even promised that Little Meg, Giry's daughter, will one day become Empress. As a result, Madame Giry greatly respects the Ghost and is quick to warn the new managers of the Ghost's powers. They dismiss her as a madwoman but are quick to reinstate her to her position of boxkeeper after the Ghost expresses his displeasure to them during a performance by speaking to them while remaining unseen. At this same performance, the chandelier plunges to the floor of the auditorium, killing the woman who was to replace Madame Giry.
Leroux's description of Madame Giry's appearance and personality are represented from these exerpts from the novel:
Sam Siciliano's Angel of the Opera
Sam Siciliano's novel is a Sherlock Holmes - meets - The Phantom of the Opera scenario. The story is told by Holmes' cousin, one Dr. Henry Venier (a character created by Siciliano himself). The author manages to stay relatively close to the original Leroux novel while still making Holme's role in the tale believable. Amongst the original characters that Holmes becomes acquainted with at the Opera is, of course, Madame Giry. I'm sorry to say that in this novel Mr. Siciliano chose to keep Madame Giry's general standard of black dress but then made her an incredibly overweight individual.
Nonetheless, Siciliano maintains Giry's superstitious manner and also emphasizes her respect for the Opera Ghost. She does not help Holmes to capture the ghost in any way. In fact, their first encounter is when she comes to see the great detective and demands to know if he has been sent to 'exorcise the Ghost!' Below are some exerpts from Angel of the Opera that involve Madame Giry:
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Madame Giry
In the Lloyd Webber show, Madame giry is the middle aged, not elderly as in Leroux's novel, ballet mistress of the Paris Opera House and is tall, thin, and imposing. She carries a straight black cane with a carved ivory handle that she uses to emphasize her words and gestures. Her hair is straight and black and is wrapped in a braid around her head. She wears a black dress but for most of the show does not wear the bonnet that was so prevalent in Leroux's book. Her daughter, Meg, in this case has long blondish curls and is noted by the management as a 'promising dancer.'
Giry is still the faithful servant of the Phantom but also seems to know more about the Phantom's past than Leroux intended. She carries his notes to the management and gives dark warnings when they threaten to defy the Phantom's orders. In a confrontation with Raoul de Chagny (Chiristine Daae's handsome suitor), Giry reveals that long ago she had seen the Phantom as a circus freak locked in a cage, but that his brilliant skills as a musician, architecht, and composer had been overshadowed by his horrible facial deformity. Then, the Phantom had escaped the traveling fair and had eventually become the legendary Opera Ghost.
At the end of the show, when the Phantom abducts Chistine to his underground lair for the final time, it is Madame Giry who leads Raoul down below to pursue them. She dares not venture past the lake to the Phantom's home and does not appear in the show again.
The Phantom of Manhattan
In this novelized continuation of the ALW musical written by Frederick Forsythe (no doubt with some encouragement from Lloyd Webber himself), Madame Giry reveals even further how she was involved in the history of the Phantom, given the name Erik Muhlheim.
The story opens with her lying in a hospital bed, slowly fading to the pain and ravages of cancer. A priest comes to give her last rights and she also sends for a notary. While waiting for the notary, Mme Giry confesses that long ago, when she was young, she had freed the Phantom, Erik, from a circus cage. For several years she had also sheltered Erik in her own home until he found refuge in the Opera House. She then describes briefly the events of the Phantom's love story at the Paris Opera and how she had helped him escape to America after he had fled the mob tracking him down in the cellars.
The notary arrives then, and Mme Giry gives him a pouch of gold Napoleons and a sealed letter. She tells him to take the money and message to New York and seek out Erik, for she is certain that he has survived. Shortly thereafer, with the priest giving her last rights, Madame Giry dies and leaves behind one other secret that only Erik, Christine, and Raoul know about. But, I'll have to let you read the novel for that!
I'll admit I was rather disappointed when I read this book (somewhat because Mme Giry was killed off in the first chapter!), but also because of the many obvious changes in the plot from Leroux's and even Lloyd Webber's musical,. Though there are profuse references to Lloyd Webber's show, Mr. Forsythe takes the time to discredit Leroux's original story. I won't discuss this any further, however, and leave judgement up to you.
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