Is ‘The Phantom of the Opera”s Emmy Rossum an Opera Singer?

Emmy Rossum starred as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, which is likely the most famous movie ever about opera music. However, actors don’t always draw from their experiences when playing roles. This raises an interesting question: Is Rossum actually an opera singer?

Emmy Rossum holding a mask
Emmy Rossum | Andy Butterton – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The long, ironic history of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Firstly, a little background. Gaston Leroux’s novel, The Phantom of the Opera, is both set in an opera house and weaves opera music into its plot. Although singing is central to the milieu of the book, for many years, the most famous film version of the story was actually a 1925 silent film. In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber released his stage musical adaptation of the book which is sung-through. In 2004, Rossum made the role of Christine, an opera singer, her own in Joel Schumacher’s film version of the musical.

Does Emmy Rossum consider herself an opera singer?

Considering opera is pivotal to the story, casting an opera singer as Christine would be an obvious choice. But is Rossum an opera singer or merely an actor who played an opera singer? Around the time of the film’s release, Rossum told the BBC about her relationship to music.

A trailer for The Phantom of the Opera

RELATED: Pink Floyd: Was ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Stolen From Them?

“I had classical training but I don’t consider myself an opera singer though, and this is more a hybrid of pop and classical music,” she revealed. “I basically developed the character from my imagination. I went to the Garnier opera house in Paris and I stood on the roof where Christine stands to sing ‘All I Ask Of You,’ so I developed sense memories like that. Then I went underneath the opera house and hung out in the lair and there is actually a lake underneath and it’s dark and foggy so it’s really kind of scary down there. I went to the Musee d’Orsay and looked at [Edgar] Degas’ paintings of ballerinas to learn how to stand like them.”

While Rossum was playing an actor, she didn’t want her performance to be theatrical. “Because that was the most important thing to me,” she said. “When I talked to Joel about it I said that the one important thing for me was that she is the one real centre in all this theatricality.” Rossum stressed that Christine had to be relatable to audiences. In addition, Rossum said The Phantom of the Opera is a character-driven story for her even though it is visually sumptuous.

“All I Ask of You”

RELATED: Is ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Based on a True Story?

How the world responded to the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

So did this get in the way of The Phantom of the Opera’s financial success? According to Box Office Mojo, The Phantom of the Opera earned over $154 million against a budget of $70 million. To this day, it’s probably the most famous sound film version of the story. Rossum connected to audiences while playing an opera singer — even if she doesn’t consider herself an opera singer.