Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 8 of 39

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It felt good to be singing again. Ever since she had agreed to the project she had set some time aside, while Benoit was in his lessons, to practice and to get used to singing after all this time… and she was enjoying it. She did not sing for anyone, choosing to lock herself away and practice alone, but she knew that sometimes Raoul listened at the door and she would wonder what he was thinking when he stood there. She never asked, she did not want him to know that she knew he was there but deep down she longed to hear his thoughts.

It always made her smile because whenever she stepped out of the room, Raoul was not there, but she could always catch just the softest trace of his cologne.

Jack had seen to it that there was now a conductor in place and also a vocal coach of sorts, who would work with the members of the cast… beginning with her. She now sat outside his office, not far from her home, waiting to be called in. She felt almost like a child waiting to see a headmistress and instantly hoped that her voice was up to scratch, up to expectation.

The door swung open and a tall, dark haired man stepped out, looked side to side and finally focused his eyes on her. 'Vicomtess de Changy,' he said, his voice accented and silky.

She stood. 'Yes,'

'Come on through,' he said, turning his back to her and leaving her standing like a fool. She stared at the space he had vacated and once the shock of his abrupt greeting had worn off she followed his path and closed the door behind her.

He had sat down next to a black piano but his posture told her that he had absolutely no intention of playing it. 'I am Ricardo Bianchi,' he finally introduced himself. 'Don't stand at the door, come in, come in,'

Reluctantly she moved into the room.

Suddenly, his face softened. 'Radiant as ever,'

She blinked, surprised.

'Forgive me,' he said, placing his hand over his heart. 'You looked so different out there, in your hat and your shawl,'


'Yes, yes,' he nodded but then his lips twisted into a warm smile. 'I saw you once, in France,'

Their eyes met and only then did she notice how soft and kind they looked.

'So young back then,' he said. 'And yet so gifted,'

She felt her face grow hot, 'Thank you, Signor Bianchi,'

'How long has it been?' he asked. 'Since you last sang for someone,'

She smiled, 'I sing for my son,'

'Ah, but it is not the same,' he said. 'Will you sing for me now?'

She nodded. 'But what?'

'Whatever you think of first, let it come from your heart,' he shrugged. 'No music, no notes… from within,'

She could not help but smile at the Italian as she pressed her hand to her stomach, readying herself. She had been rehearsing many pieces of music but had tended to stick to those arias from Carmen, the ones she would probably be singing come opening night. It seemed logical to sing one of those now but when she opened her mouth, that was not what came out, and although she surprised herself, she continued anyway.

'You were once my one companion, you were all that mattered, you were once my friend and father, then my world was shattered,' she took a breath, almost stopping herself but somehow she could not and so she continued, 'Wishing you were somehow here again, wishing you were somehow near…'

As she sang, she closed her eyes, something she rarely did, and drifted along to another place. She soared above, felt the words come from her, singing in a way she had forgotten she could.

From the heart.

Ricardo Bianchi watched as she closed her eyes and sang. Well, at least that is what most people would call it. He, however, would not call it singing. He wasn't sure what it was but the word singing suggested an act of practicality and this was not that, this was something different, something special.

He often thought that at the moment where a person witnesses something truly special, they would always know it. He had known it only twice in his long career. This was the second time… and the other… was the first time he had heard her sing, all of those years ago, raw and untamed.

The sound of her voice filled his ears and he, himself, felt his eyes begin to close as he allowed her voice to take him on the journey through her soul. He did not think he had ever heard anything so beautiful, nor did he think he had ever heard anything so perfect. Not one line, not one solitary note, out of tune.

When she stopped and her eyes opened again, they found his immediately.

She took a breath, 'What do you think?' she asked anxiously, looking at him. 'Where can I improve?'

He stared for a moment. 'I'm not really sure that you can,' he replied and then added. 'Where did you learn to sing that way?'

Her cheeks reddened. 'You flatter me,' she said. 'I have not sung properly in years,'

'It was perfect,' he said honestly. 'I could not find fault with it… although I don't recognise the song,'

She smiled, choosing not to answer his curiosity, 'I'm glad I didn't sound too bad, I've been worried about today,'

Ricardo smiled back at her. 'With absolutely no reason,' he assured her. 'So, which opera have you chosen?'

'Pardon?' she asked.

'For the opening,' he clarified.

'I haven't spoken to anyone yet, about the options,'

'Why would you need to do that?' he asked, a little confused. He was under the impression that it was entirely up to her.

'I need to make sure everyone is happy with whatever is decided,' she said.

'I'm sorry,' he said. 'Jack told me that it was your decision,'

'Mine alone?' she frowned.

He nodded. 'That is what he said,'


'Perhaps… we could make the decision now and pick an aria to work on,' he suggested.

She pondered it for a moment before saying, 'Carmen, I think, well that is what I have been practicing… I have done Faust before, many times, but I would like to perform Carmen,'

He raised his palms and smiled at her. 'Then Carmen it is, decision made,'

She blinked.

'When we are finished here I will inform Jack and the conductor, then preparations can really begin,' he said.

She sang beautifully for the next hour, making very few mistakes and chastising herself when she did. They worked through some exercises and then an aria from the Opera, before she excused herself and he was left alone in his office to wonder how she had gone for so long without performing.

When the evening began to set in he left his office and walked through the town, until he arrived at the huge Verkleiden building. The security guard opened the door, forcing a smile, and waved him through. He took the rear staircase up to the top floor… which was quite the journey… and knocked at Jack Aldridge's office door.

'Come in,'

He walked through and shut the door. 'It's dark in here,'

Jack glanced up from the note he was reading. 'It's not really an office, you know,'

'I know,' Ricardo said.

'How did it go, Maestro?' he asked.

Ricardo shook his head. 'She is ready to start now,'

Jack raised an eyebrow. 'After all this time out?'

He nodded. 'She is brilliant, quite brilliant,'

'Doesn't surprise me,' Jack murmured. 'What has she chosen?'


Jack grunted.

'Won't Mr Schwarz be happy with that?'

The other man leaned back in his chair, 'It makes no difference to him either way, he trusts her judgement,'

'Then what's the problem?'

'I'm going to need to familiarise myself with the play,'


'Same thing,' Jack shrugged.

'Not really,'

'Let's not turn into a pedant, eh Signor?'

Ricardo turned to leave but Jack's voice stopped him. 'Careful what you say,'

'I am,' he said without turning.

'Wouldn't want anything to, you know, accidently be made public about you, if you should let something slip,'

'I got the picture when I spoke to him,'

'He asked nicely first time around,'

'I didn't really want to come to New York,'

Jack laughed. 'You act like you got a choice,'

'Yes, you've both made it abundantly clear that I do not,'

'It's just a year,'

'A year is a long time,'

'But she is brilliant, that's what you said, it's not like it will be hard work,'

Ricardo turned to face him. 'Yes, she is brilliant but perhaps the rest of the cast won't be,' he snapped. 'He can't blackmail all of the decent performers in the world,'

Jack grinned, 'Maybe not but it's your job to bring all the mediocre ones up to scratch, right?'

Grudgingly, he nodded and turned again to leave, mumbling. 'If Mr Schwarz is so accomplished maybe he could do it himself,'

'Might not want to say that too loudly around here,' Jack said, having heard him.

Ricardo laughed, there wasn't really a lot going his way. 'You've got good hearing,'

'I have great hearing,'

Ricardo snorted.

'Just a year… do a good job and you're free,'

'And if I don't do a good job?'

'There are numerous possibilities,' Jack replied. 'None of them are good for your health and wellbeing, just do it right… it will work itself out,'

'Set me up a meeting with your boss,' Ricardo said, feeling oddly rather brave.

'Don't think he's likely to agree to that just yet,'

Ricardo spun around, 'How can he expect me…'

'Let's not argue about this; Mr Schwarz will meet you when he is good and ready,'

'It's all about him with you isn't it?' Ricardo snarled.

'If you had any sense, it would be for you too,'

He knew he was fighting a losing battle, he knew he was in a no win situation and he knew that whoever Schwarz was, he was a man to be feared. He saw it on the face of the security guard and he saw it on Jack's face but as a man himself it was difficult to just give in to such demands. He sighed.

'Just a year,'

'That's what he says,'

'What if he changes his mind?'

'It won't be any longer,'

Ricardo rolled his eyes. 'I don't see how you can know that,'

'He's a man of his word,'

'Do you even see the irony in your statement?'

Jack grinned, 'I do. Great, isn't it?'

The boat finally docked and the passengers were treated to a first class view of New York City, and dry land, for the first time in just under ten days. Antoinette Giry stretched her legs as she climbed from the boat and felt immediately wobbly on dry land. It was rare that she travelled anywhere of any great distance by boat and now at least she knew why they called them your sea legs. She was alone, Meg had opted to stay with the ballet in Paris where she was fast making a name for herself, but for Antoinette the idea of working in an exotic country was appealing. She had spent so many years in France and had never before been further than England, so to her, this was a whole new adventure.

The fact that it was Christine who had written some weeks ago only made the decision all that much easier, although she did worry about leaving Meg. Still, she was due to be married soon herself, she could not very well up sticks and leave just because her mother asked her to. To be the new ballet mistress at a theatre yet to be named seemed somehow glamorous and she was excited at the prospect, pleased that she would have an opportunity to leave her mark in another theatre.

She looked down at her cane and smiled… what might have been.

When she looked back up again, Raoul was standing in front of her, his arms spread open, 'Madame!'

She could not stop the smile from spreading onto her lips as she approached him and was embraced warmly. 'So good to see you,' he said, his voice as gentle as she remembered.

'And you,' she said warmly, and meant it. 'It has been too long,'

Raoul nodded but his smile never wavered as he escorted her to the carriage that was waiting. When they were settled inside he instructed the driver to move off and turned his attention back to her.

'You look well,' he said.

'And so do you, if a little thin,'

He blushed. 'Well, the food isn't the same here,'

'Not full of butter, you mean?' she smiled.

He glanced wistfully out of the window, his face changing briefly, and for a moment she was tempted to ask him what troubled him but before she could, he turned back to her, smiling once more and asked, 'How is Meg?'

'Meg is very well,' she replied. 'Engaged, you know?'

'I'm very pleased for her,' he said.

'How is Christine?'

'Happy,' he said. 'Now that she is singing again,'

'She was happy before,'

Raoul's Adams apple bobbed, 'I wonder,'

She touched the back of his hand, 'Well don't,'

Eventually, the smile returned and he said, 'Welcome to Manhattan,'


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 8 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>