Prima Donna,
First Lady of the Stage

The Various Takes on La Carlotta

What would a phantom site be without any acknowledgement of Christine's rival diva?

While never portrayed as fully "innocent" as far as I know, her character ranges from victim of circumstance to all out villainess.

Listed below are descriptions of her many diverse portrayals, and the fairly diverse ways in which Phantom deals with her.

Novel by Gaston Leroux (1911)Carlotta appears to be competent enough of a singer to warrant the title of "diva," but she has a mean streak in her as well. Jealous over Christine's sudden fame, she pulls some dirty politics in an attempt to discredit her understudy. Not one to be intimidated by the Phantom's notes, she is publically humiliated when the phantom makes her croak like a frog during an important performance followed by the falling chandelier.
Movie by Universal Studios (1925)Carlotta is a slightly over-weight woman with long curly hair. Although she seems to be only in her 20's, she is already a competent singer in this film, but the fiesty confrontations in the managers' office over the Phantom's notes are delegated to her mother. Look out, Dr. Phil; time for "Stage Moms: Part Deux." Erik does not publicly humiliate Carlotta in this one, but he does strike terror in people's hearts when the chandelier falls during one of her performances.
Movie by Universal Studios (1943)Carlotta's character seems to have been divided up into two characters in this movie.

Carlotta #1 is rewritten as "Biancarolli." She is a tall, slim, attractive red-haired woman and a competent singer even if she does come across a bit arrogant. The Phantom wants Christine to sing, however, and Biancarolli is simply in the way. He first drugs her so that Christine can sing during an important performance. The infuriated diva demands the arrest of Christine and a baritone singer for conspiracy to commit murder, but the authorities could not without proof. Later on, the phantom appears in her dressing room. Not to be intimidated, she gets very confrontational with him. As she walks up to him and demands he take off his mask, he strangles her and her servant.

Carlotta #2, "Lorenzi," is a young, dark-haired Spanish singer asked to sing after Biancarolli is killed and Christine has been kidnapped. Described as "bold" by the managers, their eyes grow wide with disbelief when she calmly tells them before going onstage, "Of course I am composed. Why wouldn't I be?" The Phantom makes the chandelier fall during her performance. She is my favorite portrayal. Too bad her appearance is so brief, but what are you going to do? She had a good run.
Movie by Hammer Films (1962)Again, her character seems to have been divided up into two characters.

Carlotta #1 is dark-haired, somewhere in her 30's, and renamed "Maria." It seems she is, once again, a competent singer even though she does cater to the advances of a lacivious manager. She seems a bit superstitious, however, and is terrified by the Phantom's presence in her dressing room. The Phantom just wants to scare her away, but not for any reasons concerning her. She goes on stage anyway, but is terrified into leaving for good and goes back to Spain when Buquet's body appears on a rope during her performance.

Christine replaces Maria, but is fired after she rejects the advances of the opera house manager. Carlotta #2, an attractive and very flirty red-haired English woman named "Yvonne," is hired in Christine's place. She can sing, but her voice is not operatic. Like Maria, she just gets the lead role because she is willing to sleep with the boss.
Movie by Harpor Productions (1974)This one is by far the most unusual portrayal of our diva, to put it mildly. Renamed "Beef" in this movie, our Prima Donna is a gay male American glitter rock singer. Although he is obviously far too in love with himself, he is harmless. He just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His only crime is to show up for an audition where the powers-that-be like his look and his act for a new rock opera. He is cast for the lead part, but complains during rehearsal that the piece is pitched too high and that it is "scored for a chick." The Phantom threatens him in his dressing room while he is taking a shower on the night of his debut. Terrified, he tries to leave but is stopped by one of the managers. The Phantom electrocutes him to death on stage during his performance in front of the audience, who thinks it is part of the show and cheers on.
Movie by Robert Halmi Productions (1983)The Italian diva "Brigida Bianchi" is a young, attractive, very competent singer with curly blonde hair. What helps her keep her job, however, is her willingness to be a mistress to the Baron. She is loud, extremely spoiled, and gets upset easily over any perceived criticism. The Phantom's chronic subtle tricks make her increasingly more difficult and so paranoid that she begins to accuse her understudy of "the evil eye." As she uses her throat spray one day during rehearsal, she realizes it has been drugged. This makes her leave, but she is called back (and is a lot more calm and composed) after her understudy is kidnapped.
Musical by Ken Hill (1984)La Carlotta is loud and egotistical but in a goofy, lighthearted way. She seems harmless overall, but the Phantom wants her out anyway and he does this by making the chandelier fall on her head. No, he does not make THE chandelier fall on her head. He uses the OTHER chandelier... (Yep. Another comical death scene.)
Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986)Rewritten as an Italian diva, it varies according to which live show you see. One constant appears to be the very loud mouth. Carlotta has the chronic need to be heard over everyone else. (Piangi does no such thing, so her loudness cannot be attributed to just having an operatic voice that tends to travel.) She is not one to be easily intimidated, but she is at this point in time extremely aggravated over the non-stop "accidents" that have happened to her for the past few years. She is experienced in the business of opera and still has the frail ego which needs coddling, but she is nothing close to the nasty, hostile, mean-spirited portrayal in the movie adaptation. As in Leroux's novel, the Phantom publicly humiliates her by making her sound like a croaking toad in front of a full house. She runs off stage in tears and just as the ballet scene is about to begin, the audience can hear one more coack from behind the backdrop...
Children's Video by Emerald City Productions (1987)Carlotta does not appear in this one. The only time she is mentioned is early in the video, when Christine appears on stage to sing the role of Juliet and some members of the audience ask "Where is Carlotta?" They all wind up loving Christine and Carlotta is forgotten after that. Ah, the fickle winds of fame...
Movie by 21st Century Film Corp (1989)Carlotta is a very attractive young English woman with long, blonde curly hair. She is clearly a very talented singer, but she is also horribly egotistical. She is terrified out of one performance after the Phantom places Buquet's body, which has been skinned, in her dressing room closet. Later on, at the masquerade ball, she is infatuated by a mysterious man in a Red Death costume. They dance together for a moment, and then walk away together to an isolated area. She playfully removes his mask, only to be terrified at his visage as he kills her. Her decapitated head is found later in the party soup bowl.
Movie by Saban Entertainment (1990)La Carlotta is once again a Spanish diva, with dark-brown wiry hair and green eyes. She is clearly aging and never really could sing very well. As the wife of the new opera house manager, she is unfortunately allowed not only to sing, but to sing in all the starring roles. She takes herself very seriously, and so her ego is large and frail. The Phantom takes advantage of this by humiliating her during her performances while the audience howls with laughter. Once it is with itchy bugs in her wig, another involves gluing a goblet onto a tray. She is a funny villainess in this one, but not so funny when she sabotages Christine's debut out of a fit of jealousy over being upstaged by her costume girl. The Phantom drives her into insanity for this offense by dumping a trunk full of rats on her.
Yeston and Kopit Musical (1991)Everything is like in the 1990 TV miniseries, except that the Phantom electrocutes her for ruining Christine's debut. Her death scene is made comical as she lets out a loud, stereotypical operatic note as she begins to twitch and the stage lights dim.
Graphic Novel by Mitchell Perkins (1991)Carlotta in this graphic novel is a young, tall, slender, dark-haired Italian. She is experienced in the business of opera and has her usual feisty streak. She receives threatening notes and, believing them to be from Christine (whom she loathes), she complains to the managers. Later in her dressing room, the Phantom sneaks drugs into her drink via a trap door. After she drinks the tonic, he proceeds to hypnotize her from behind her dressing room mirror. Now under his spell, she removes her makeup, cuts off her hair, and strips. She then goes on stage in front of a full house dressed only in a hooded cloak. She begins to "sing" like a croaking bullfrog and removes the cloak. She is taken away to an insane asylum, never to be heard from again.
Novel by Susan Kay (1991)Everything is like in the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Novel by Nicholaus Meyer (1993)Carlotta is not mentioned much in this one.
Movie by Waterbearer Films (1993)Carlotta is a tall, "pleasingly plump" Spanish diva with reddish-blonde hair. She is given a slightly more sympathetic portrayal, but is still very pampered. She refuses a charity performance, saying that the mere thought of poverty makes her whoozy. She is getting older but believes her experience in the business is a valuable asset to the company. After Christine's successful performance, she feels cast aside. Her abilities are ignored and forgotten. The Phantom does not appear to hate her; he just desires Christine. When Carlotta agrees to sing at the masquerade, the Phantom (via ventriloquism) makes her sound like a man every so often and, at one point, a donkey. She finishes the aria, but runs off in tears. Yet afterwards he appears in a mask and dances with her so well that she is obviously charmed by him.
Novel by Sam Siciliano (1994)Carlotta is Spanish again. Her portrayal leans toward comical. She is extremely loud, aggressive, and overbearing. Her hair and makeup look almost clownish in the dressing room as Holmes talks to her. She feels unappreciated and while intimidating, she is not a villainess nor does she come across as one to play dirty politics. Holmes is actually amused by her and seems to defend her behavior, saying that she has to be that way to survive as a career woman.
Recording of Musical by Theatreworks (1997)Carlotta, in the spirit of this lighthearted children's musical adaptation, is goofy. While the opera house is in the verge of bankruptcy, her biggest concern is having the biggest dressing room. As expected, she is loud and egotistical, but not to any extreme like in most other versions. Upset that a new manager casts a new singer (Christine) as the Prima Donna, and suspicious that the Phantom has not scared her away, she tries to scare Christine by dressing as a phantom herself. She is intercepted by the Phantom himself. Later on, when the true identity of the Phantom is discovered, she eagerly suggests at the end of the play that the Phantom give her singing lessons too, as though it would be an honor to be his student.
Novel by Brigitta D'Arcy (1997)Because of the focus and time setting of this novel, she is not mentioned this time.
Movie by Medusa Films (1998)If Marilyn Horne had a scary Italian cousin, it would be this Carlotta. This heavy-set, big-haired, diva wears way too much makeup and has a set of fake birthmarks she keeps in a silver box. At least she has a wonderfully rich operatic voice. As a Prima Donna, however, she is arrogant, hostile, domineering, and demanding. The Phantom physically attacks her in one bizarre scene, telling her she will not sing followed by threats of further physical violence. Never one to be intimidated, she sings that night. The Phantom not only makes the chandelier fall, but also a host of other structures in the opera house. One piece falls over on top of Carlotta's head. As the frightened crowd runs out, Carlotta is left on her knees on the stage, coughing up dust.
Novel by Frederick Forsyth (1999)This is an attempt at a sequel to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical set in Manhattan. Carlotta is not mentioned nor is she brought back into the story.
Novel by Nancy Hill Pettengill (2000)Same as Forsyth except the setting is in Lousiana.
Movie by Warner Brothers (2004)As a movie adaptation of the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, she remains an Italian diva. She is one mean, egotistical, self-centered, shrill, hostile piece of work to the extreme. She falls into fits of rages over petty jealousies and has a chronic need to sing (and talk) so loudly, her voice almost seems stuck in a perpetual scream. The Phantom does not consider her competent as a performer and publicly humiliates her via drugs in her throat spray. By coincidence, she had just finished calling Christine a little toad on stage, in front of a full opera house, during an unexpected interruption in the performance. When she tried to resume singing, the drugs made her sound like a croaking toad. She runs off the stage in tears, but there is no coack from behind the backdrop as in the live musical show.

The Real Carlotta

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