Night Time at the Opera House
"You must hurry up and get dressed." The usher said standing in the doorway. "The costume girls go to work at 8:00 am."
"Thank you Mousier." I responded shutting the door. Opening the dresser I found a suitable dress to wear for a day of mending and washing clothes. Looking at my reflection in the mirror over the dresser I tried to smooth out the flyaway hairs. It had been two days since I had been able to bathe, but I doubt it mattered much. I was in 19th century Paris after all. However I decided to ask the usher where I could bathe this evening. Quickly putting on an apron I ran downstairs to meet the woman who was going to show me the ropes of my new job.
Walking downstairs I met another woman about my age dressed very similar. She introduced herself as Marie, but I recognized her as Rebecca. She explained to me the basics regarding my new job.
"You pick up the dresses from this table and place them in the basket to be washed." She demonstrated this by picking up several ornate dresses made with yards of fabric, lace, and pearls. Placing them carefully in a basket she wheeled them to the side.
Looking onstage I could see company rehearsing. "Which opera are they performing?" I asked Marie as I walked past with a basket.
"'Faust'" She replied.
"I thought Carlotta had that role." I responded seeing that another girl was rehearsing in her place.
"Carlotta doesn't think she needs rehearsal." Marie remarked sarcastically.
Later on after my work was done and the company had left for the day I found myself wandering through the Opera House. Walking onstage I felt myself performing for an audience that wasn't even there. Singing softly I danced around the stage smiling and bowing after a marvelous performance. Hearing the soft sound of applause I turned around quickly and let out a small gasp.
"Do not be afraid." A voice said from behind a piece of scenery. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"Who are you?" I asked defensively.
"A friend." He replied. A few minutes later he emerged from the shadows. He was a tall figure wearing a tuxedo, a cape, and a masque that covered his face. "I'm sorry I startled you, I was admiring your voice."
Taking one step backward I stared at him with my eyes wide.
"If you please it's a very sweet voice with one thing missing."
"What is that?" I asked cautiously.
"Training." He replied. "You see I'm a voice teacher. I would like very much to train yours."
"I have no money." I responded quickly.
"Oh, not to worry. I wouldn't be asking for payment." He answered.
"Why do you wear a masque?" I asked quietly.
"You see I don't want you to know my identity. If you knew who I was and word got out that I was giving lessons, I would feel obliged to give them to everyone." He responded eloquently.
I agreed to meet him the following evening at the same time. Walking away I couldn't help but think about Vincent. This man had his voice, but I wasn't able to look very closely at his eyes. I silently wondered if I had truly gone over the edge.
The following evening I walked onto the stage waiting to meet this man who reminded me of my lost love. Turning around I heard the sounds of someone approaching.
"Good evening." I responded as I saw this man walk up. Looking closely at his eyes I could see they were the same blue pools Vincent had! Sucking in my breath rapidly I tried to relax. How could this be?
"There's a piano in one of the rooms off the stage. We can use that for practice." He explained leading me off the stage into a small room.
"Thank you so much for doing this for me Mousier " I began. I wanted to know his name.
"Maestro." He responded quickly. "Just call me Maestro."
"Maestro." I said smiling. Practice went quickly. Perhaps because of the company, but also because the music seemed to flow from my lips effortlessly. Having always felt I was inadequate as a singer, this was quite astonishing. Smiling broadly I began to sing another aria. The final one from "Faust." I knew the words from hearing it many times before. It was by far my favorite opera. But I would have never dreamed of singing it myself. Happy with my performance I sighed deeply when I was finished.
"Beautiful Christine." Were the Maestro's only words? Agreeing to meet the following night I walked out of the room and up to my small room at the top of the stage. Preparing for bed I realized I was not the least bit tired. I wanted to learn more about Maestro, but he seemed so secretive about his personal life. I didn't even know where he lived and how he had acquired a key to the Opera House. These thoughts were running through my mind as I drifted off to sleep.