Who is little Lotte? Discovering the mysterious character in The Phantom of the Opera

One of the most inexplicable details of the film version of The Phantom of the Opera is that Christine confesses to her friend Meg that when she and Raoul were children, he nicknamed her Little Lotte. Lotte was a common diminutive nickname for Charlotte, not Christine. It appears that the dialogue was added simply to explain to the audience why they are singing a duet about Little Lotte.

So why does Andrew Lloyd Webber have a duet about Little Lotte in his musical? Easy. It’s in the original story by Gaston Leroux.

Now we come to the crux of the matter. Back in the 1980s, when Phantom first debuted, no one knew who Little Lotte was. The impromptu reference in the lyrics made no sense to most theatergoers. But by the time Leroux was writing his book, readers would have known exactly what he meant.

Little Lotte is a parlor game, similar to Twenty Questions, where one person knows the answer and other people try to guess it. But in this case, the person lists three items and the others have to guess which of the three Little Lotte prefers. The secret is hinted at in the name of the game: Little Lotte prefers items with double consonants in their names.

So now, we have the lyrics: Little Lotte thought: Do I like dolls, elves or shoes better?

The correct answer should be dolls because it has the double L. Since they both know the answer, they don’t bother to answer, they just pose in the next group.

Or riddles or dresses? Or chocolates?

Again, Lotte would prefer riddles, because of the double D.

You can see why the game quickly fell out of favor. Once you know the secret, there is no challenge. And that’s why modern theater goers needed an explanation of who Little Lotte was.

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