A retelling of the romantic novel by Gaston Leroux (1911) is accomplished with breathtaking brevity--and accompanied by pictures that hearken back to the Peter Max school of color and design. Publicity for the book associates it with ""the joys of opera and musical theater,"" and the success of the current Broadway show does give this timeliness. The bare-bones story relies on the imagery of Gothic terror: plummeting chandelier, underground lake, etc. Of necessity, there's no lengthy characterization, but the soprano Christine must still choose between destroying the Phantom (and the Opera itself) and betraying her lover. The unremitting suspense is augmented by the constant movement and the elegant mood conveyed by the illustrations; matte-black pages with the type printed stylishly in white are especially dramatic. Nonetheless, this is a long novel compressed into the form of a fairy tale, and its format may mislead: it is more likely to engage older children with an interest in musical theater than the usual picture-book audience.