05 May Inspiring Chandeliers from Entertainment & History
One of the most iconic chandeliers in the world is the one used in productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. This is the chandelier that was probably responsible for the surge in popularity for having chandeliers in homes across the globe. For anyone who has seen the production, the stunning chandelier has a major role to play, both at the end of Act One and when it comes crashing down towards the audience!
The chandelier is highly symbolic of times of prosperity, success and the glory days of the Paris Opera but is sent crashing when the phantom cuts the wires holding it in place because of his anger and heartbreak for a love he cannot grasp. The violent act of making the long chandelier fall also represents an anger towards the grandeur of Parisian society of the time. As an artistic, theatrical prop, the Phantom of the Opera chandelier is probably the most well-known chandelier in the world.
The musical first opened in London’s West End in 1986 and has been watched by millions of theatre-goers ever since. It is the longest running production in the history of Broadway and kept the title of most financially successful show until surpassed by The Lion King in 2014. It is still running in both London and New York and has been seen by a staggering 130 million people across 27 countries. How many of those people decided to install a beautiful chandelier in their homes as a result?
When it comes to British television, one chandelier that will remain forever imprinted in the minds of viewers is the one which gave Del boy and Rodney such a hard time in Only Fools and Horses. The episode called ‘A Tough of Glass’ was first screened in December 1982 as the final episode to series 2 of the popular TV show. It was a special episode as it was the first to attract more than 10 million viewers to the show.
The Trotters are employed to clean two priceless Louis XIV chandeliers in a country home and of course, disaster strikes and one of the expensive pieces comes crashing to the ground. So hilarious is their misfortune that the episode was voted second place in a poll of Only Fools and Horses best moments. The scene was also voted best British comedy moment in a 2000 poll. It is therefore, one of the best known and best loved TV moments in British comedy history.
Unbelievably, the episode is based on true life events that happened to writer John Sullivan’s father. Whilst working as a plumber in the 1930s, he was part of a crew of men installing a brand-new heating system into a stately home. Some chandeliers had to be moved and exactly as the show unveils, the wrong one was undone and smashed to the ground. John Sullivan’s father was sacked from his job as a result and didn’t think the story was remotely funny until he saw the episode air and soon changed his mind!
A real-life chandelier that has become an iconic image of tragedy is that which hung in the ballroom of the Titanic. The famous chandelier became a symbol of incredible luxury that sadly ended up as a pile of rusted metal on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Brought back to the life in the 1997 James Cameron film, the splendour and opulence of the ship destined for disaster leaves a startling image.
The Titanic was transporting some of the world’s richest society members and was described as ‘unsinkable’ until that fateful collision with an iceberg killed more than 1500 people. The lack of lifeboats and the fact that binoculars had been forgotten were elements that combined to cause one of the worst maritime disasters ever to occur. Captain Edward Smith went down with his ship and sadly so did the glorious chandelier from the ballroom.
Chandeliers can be seen the whole world over, from the foyers of luxury hotels to offices, state buildings to family living rooms. They offer a sense of majesty and magic, drawing the eye up towards the droplets of luminescence. Whether for opulent grandeur or simple, contemporary beauty, a chandelier can transform a space, providing the perfect balance of function and aesthetics that humans desire so much.