A/N: Welcome to my story, The Angel of Music. It is a re-telling of the Andrew Lloyd Webber version, with some Susan Kay and 2004 movie inspirations. It has the ending I wish would have happened in the musical!
Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed, and to those of you who have never read it, thanks for stopping by and of course, I welcome your reviews!!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Phantom of the Opera or any of the characters.
Rehearsals were already underway. I could hear the music and singing as I rushed from my dressing room and up to the stage. I came up to stage left and paused for a moment to catch my breath and watched the proceedings. It seemed to be going well. At least, Monsieur Reyer was not yelling at the moment, which was a good sign. I hurried onto the stage, entering my place with the chorus. Madame Giry, the ballet mistress, gave me a stern look and I gave her a tiny, apologetic smile. Several of the other chorus girls threw me nasty looks, which I ignored. Only Meg Giry, my one friend in the chorus, gave me a smile and a questioning look. I shook my head slightly, trying to convey that I would talk to her later.
I turned my focus back on the rehearsal. It went well, at least until Monsieur Lefevre, the Opera House manager came onto the stage with two unfamiliar men in tow. They were looking around delightedly while Monsieur Lefevre spoke rapidly, gesturing to accentuate whatever it was he was saying. The chorus girls got progressively more distracted as the two men wove around the stage, getting in the way.
"Messieurs, please," Madame Giry hissed, glaring at the men. "We are trying to rehearse." Madame Giry was an imposing figure. Tall and thin, she wore her black hair in a severe bun and she wore only black. Her glare was usually enough to frighten anyone into doing what they were supposed to and her voice, with its strong French accent, was commanding. But the men paid her no mind and continued to stroll about the stage.
The song ended with applause from Lefevre and the two men. Lefevre cleared his throat loudly to get everyone's attention. Everyone ignored him and he looked pleadingly at Madame Giry. She rapped her walking stick on the stage and the sound echoed throughout the room. Immediately everyone stopped talking and gathered around Lefevre. I could see my curiosity mirrored on everyone else's faces.
"Your attention, ladies and gentlemen," Lefevre said, beaming. "I would like to introduce to you Monsieur Andre and Monsieur Firmin. These gentlemen have officially agreed to take over management of the Opera!"
Andre and Firmin nodded, smiling benevolently. There were some murmurs among the performers, but the rumor mill had been saying for some time that Lefevre was trying to find someone to take over, so it was not much of a surprise.
Lefevre clapped his hands together and proceeded to drag Andre and Firmin around to introduce them to Monsieur Reyer, Madame Giry and, of course, La Carlotta and Signor Piangi. The rest of the cast was ignored while everyone fawned over Carlotta, the star and Prima Donna of the Paris Opera House.
Carlotta pranced around the stage as if she owned it, much like a peacock strutting around, preening its plumage. And, like a peacock, Carlotta's voice rang out over the din.
"Oh, it is a pleasure to meet you, sirs," she purred loudly with a smile that had always reminded me of a self satisfied cat.
Andre and Firmin bustled around, making a big fuss, as Carlotta was expecting. It did not take them long to talk her into an improv performance of Think of Me, from the production of Hannibal that we were rehearsing.
She strutted to the middle of the stage, gave a condescending nod of her head to Monsieur Reyer, who was sitting at the piano. He began to play, and Carlotta's voice swelled, filling the room.
Meg, who had come to stand next to me, rolled her eyes dramatically and I stifled a giggle.
Right in the middle of her aria there was a tremendous crash and a backdrop came crashing down out of nowhere directly behind Carlotta who whirled around. The chorus girls that were closest to it began screaming and rushing around frantically.
"The Phantom!" they shrieked. "He is here!"
My eyes widened, while Meg clutched my arm, staring at the backdrop as if it would reach out and grab her.
There was pandemonium as people rushed about, while Carlotta stood in the middle of the stage, fuming. Her face had turned a spectacular shade of red, and Andre and Firmin were looking around, clearly confused.
Madame Giry rapped her walking stick onto the stage several times while Monsieur Reyer clapped his hands and shouted at everyone to calm down.
Monsieur Lefevre's face turned red and he shouted up into the catwalk above the stage. "Buquet! What is the meaning of this?"
Just then Josef Buquet, one of the stagehands, staggered onto the stage from stage left. "I swear, Monsieur, I was not at my post!" he said. He gestured towards the catwalk. "There is no one there! It must have been the Ghost!"
There was another round of shrieks from the chorus girls, and Madame Giry rapped her walking stick on the floor again to quiet them.
When it was finally silent all eyes turned to Monsieur Lefevre, who was now edging towards stage right, and the exit. "Well, my good sirs," he said quickly to Andre and Firmin. "I must catch my train. Best of luck to you!" And with that he bolted out the door, leaving Andre and Firmin standing amid the panicked performers They looked bewildered.
"Heh, heh," Firmin said, stepping forward. He tugged on the neck of his dress shirt and looked around. "These things do happen," he said with a strained smile.
"These tings do happen?" Carlotta repeated, her voice deceivingly quiet. "You have been here what, five minutes? What do you know of these tings? Si, these tings do happen. But unless you STOP these tings from happening, I will assure you that THIS ting," she said, gesturing towards her bosom, which caused Andre and Firmin to look slightly alarmed, while her voice grew louder with each word. "WILL NOT HAPPEN!" she finished in a screech.
With that she dramatically tossed her scarf to the ground and stalked away, waving her hand at Monsieur Piangi and Mademoiselle Perre, her hairdresser, to follow, which they did. Signor Piangi, as he walked past Firmin and Andre gave a little "Hmmph!" and said, "Amateurs!" which caused Meg to bury her face in my shoulder, giggling.
"Oh dear," Andre said weakly, looking at Firmin, who was rubbing his forehead and looking tired. "Well, she will be back…" he said, but his voice was more of a question than a statement.
"You think so, messieurs?" Madame Giry cryptically, raising an eyebrow. "I have a message for you, sirs, from the Opera Ghost." She held out an envelope.
The chorus girls screeched again. Firmin looked around at them, astounded. "Good God, you are all obsessed!"
"What do you mean, you have a message?" Andre asked suspiciously. He looked at the envelope in distaste.
"He merely welcomes you to his opera house and commands you to continue to leave Box Five empty for his use and reminds you that his salary is now due," Madame Giry said.
"Salary? What do you mean his salary?" Firmin demanded.
"Monsieur Lefevre paid him twenty thousand francs a month. Perhaps you can afford more," said Giry.
"Good heavens, as if we do not have enough to worry about without an Opera Ghost on top of it all!" Andre said with a sigh.
"Forget the Opera Ghost," Firmin said. "We open tonight and we are without our lead Soprano! Who is her understudy?" he demanded of Monsieur Reyer.
"There is no understudy," Reyer said calmly. "La Carlotta would not hear of it."
Andre and Firmin turned slightly green and stared at each other, looking more than a little panicked. "A full house," Firmin groaned. "We will have to refund a full house!"
I watched them, detached. I was a mere chorus girl; I had nothing to do with their little drama.
Suddenly Meg rushed from my side to stand in front of Andre and Firmin. "Christine Daae can sing it, sirs!" she said boldly. "She is in the chorus."
I blanched and stared at Meg, horrified. The rest of the chorus girls turned to stare at me, giggling and nudging each other. "Christine?" I heard one of them whisper. "She would not even know when to show up, she is so dim!"
"Christine Daae?" Andre repeated.
"A chorus girl?" Firmin said incredulously.
Madame Giry stepped forward and addressed the new managers. "Let her sing for you, Messieurs, she has been well taught."
"Well then, let us hear it," Firmin said with a sigh.
Meg came to me and tugged me into the middle of the stage, amid the whispers and giggles of the rest of the chorus.
"Meg! What are you doing?" I whispered, panicked.
"You will do fine," Meg said with an encouraging smile. She reached down and picked up Carlotta's scarf and handed it to me before she stepped back.
My heart was pounding in my chest, and I felt the prickle of tears in my eyes as I heard another chorus girl say snidely, "This should be entertaining at least!"
I wound the silk scarf around my hands nervously. Monsieur Reyer sat back at the piano. "From the beginning," he said, and began playing.
"Think of me, think of me fondly, when we said goodbye," I sang, my voice coming out in a choked whisper.
I heard one of the managers groan, "This is doing nothing to encourage me, Andre," Firmin said.
I stood, frozen. I had never felt so humiliated. I plunged ahead with the song, my voice wavering. Suddenly a voice in the back of my mind said, what are you doing? You know you can sing better than this! You are disgracing the Angel. Shape up!
That was all it took to snap me out of my stage fright. I remembered the Angel telling me, just earlier today before rehearsal that I was magnificent, that I was his protégé.
I stood up straight and my voice swelled out with confidence, the change so sudden and so complete that I heard gasps from behind me. I released my stranglehold on the scarf and tossed it confidently over my shoulders. I let myself feel the words, tried to convey the longing in the lyrics in my voice.
When I finished the song all was silent. There was not a word spoken and immediately my self confidence wavered and came crashing down. Had I been so terrible? Tears stung my eyes and I almost bolted off the stage; the only thing that stopped me was Madame Giry, who had come to stand by me.
Suddenly the stage erupted in applause and cheers. Flustered, I looked around and saw that even the chorus girls were applauding, albeit reluctantly.
"Well done, Christine," Madame Giry said warmly. That, being the highest praise of all, save for the Angels', warmed me and gave me enough confidence to face Andre and Firmin, who looked completely shocked.
"That was superb!" Andre said, beaming. Firmin still looked too astounded to speak.
"Indeed," Firmin finally choked out. "You will sing the part, Mademoiselle Daae."
"Thank you, oh thank you!" I gasped, clasping my hands together, I felt myself flush in embarrassment.
The managers turned from me to speak to Monsieur Reyer and Madame Giry. "Will she be able to sing it tonight, for the opening?"
"Christine?" Madame Giry said, motioning me forward. I stepped up. "Will you be able to do it tonight?"
I nodded, "Certainly. I have seen the part rehearsed a hundred times or more."
Madame Giry turned back to the managers. "She will be fine," she said firmly.
Monsieur Reyer nodded his agreement. "We will rehearse all the way until seven o'clock if we must."
Andre and Firmin looked slightly mollified. Andre wiped a hand across his forehead. "We will let you get to your rehearsals then. We shall be in the office if you need us." And with that they bustled off, no doubt wondering what they had gotten themselves into.
Reyer and Madame Giry went to work, arranging the chorus to make up for the missing part, and going over and over my part. The lead!
By the time five o'clock came, my stomach was tied in knots I was so nervous. We had rehearsed what seemed like a million times. By the time we were sent back to our dressing rooms I was exhausted, and we had not even performed yet!
Madame Giry stopped by with a tray with tea and toast. "You should eat a little something so you do not get sick," she said, placing an encouraging hand on my shoulder.
Once she was gone I sank back in my chair. My mind was whirling. I was to sing the lead of Hannibal! I was at once amazed and terrified. I had spent my life buried in various choruses, I had never had to stand alone, and the thought terrified me and thrilled me at once.
As I nibbled on a piece of buttered toast, my mind wandered and I thought of my father. He had always fixed me buttered toast and tea before a performance. I sighed, thinking about him, wishing he could be here to see me in the lead of Hannibal at the Paris Opera House. I know he would have been so proud.
He had been dead five years and still his death pained me.
My mother had died giving birth to me, and my father had raised me alone. We had always been the best of friends. He had been my confidante and the one person who believed in me, even when that belief was unwarranted.
I am not too proud to admit that, though my father thought I was wonderful, that my talent had always been meager, at best. Until his death, I had lacked the fortitude to really put my heart and soul in my performances. I had been a middling student in ballet and not much better at my voice lessons.
But always my father was there, encouraging me, supporting me. It was not until his death that I realized how I had taken him for granted.
Stephan Daae had been a legendary violinist and had given up his career to raise me. I had never given much thought to that fact until his death, when I realized that he had given up his dreams to raise me when he could easily have foisted me off onto any number of relatives and continued his career. Also, I realized that he wanted me to pursue music not only for my sake, but for his as well, as part of his legacy.
My father had raised me to believe I was wonderful, special. His little kitten, as he had always called me. He told me stories, wonderful stories of Little Lotte, whose father had sent her the Angel of Music, while he played his violin for me. I had grown up in a world of fairytales, of dreams and wishes.
On his deathbed, as he lay dying of the fever, he told me that he would send me the Angel of Music, to guide me. I was just twelve at the time, and had wholeheartedly believed him. He had raised me not to fear the unknown, but to embrace it.
Throughout the next five years after his death I had floundered, unable to do anything but mourn. Oh, I went through the motions of song and dance, but my heart, which had not been in it very much in the first place, was not in it at all after my father's death. How I had ever managed to get the job in the chorus of the Paris Opera House was beyond me! My vocal performance at auditions had been weak, my dancing wooden, and they had politely dismissed me.
The next day a courier had brought me a letter, from the manager of the Opera House, Monsieur Lefevre, personally asking me to join the chorus.
I had been amazed, but elated nonetheless. I was given a private dressing room, while the rest of the chorus girls were made to dress in the common dressing room. I did not know why I was getting special treatment, but I did not think much of it. Still mourning for my father, I existed in a world separate from those around me, where I constantly listened for the Angel of Music, even as my faith in my father faltered, believing that he had left me, alone and unprepared for the harsh world.
And then! Only weeks after I started at the Opera House I first heard His voice. The Angel of Music.
I was alone in my dressing room after a particularly brutal rehearsal. I could not seem to follow the steps and was constantly going the wrong way, much to the delight of the rest of the chorus girls, who were jealous of my private dressing room and the way Monsieur Lefevre treated me. They laughed and taunted, though never in front of Lefevre. Monsieur Reyer had yelled at me, calling me an untalented child. I was crumpled on the floor of the dressing room, head in my hands, sobbing. "Oh, Papa! Why did you leave me? Why? You told me you would send me the Angel of Music! I cannot do this. I cannot go on alone," I sobbed quietly. My mind was muddled with pain and confusion and I truly lacked the will to go on.
That was when I heard it, His voice. "Do not cry, my child."
I lifted my head a little, but there was no one there.
"Who…who is there?" I asked, frightened.
"Do not be frightened, child. It is I."
The voice was beautiful. It was hunting and eerie, yet strangely warm and compassionate, and it seemed to be all around me, and inside me.
"Papa?" I asked, bewildered.
There was a soft laugh. "No, child. It is I, the Angel of Music."
My heart pounded in my chest as I sat up. I was staring directly into the large mirror that took up part of the dressing room's wall. My long brown hair was tangled around my tear streaked face, and my green eyes were red-rimmed.
"The Angel of Music?" I repeated stupidly. My mind seemed to be lagging several steps behind the conversation.
"Did you not ask for me?" he asked with a touch of humour in his voice.
"I am here," he said softly.
And so it began. Just as Papa had promised, the Angel of Music came to me daily. He taught me, trained me. He took my voice and molded it. His gentle ways and encouragement built up my self confidence and broke down the walls that I had built around myself since my father's death.
He was unlike any angel I had ever imagined. His voice was as close to heaven as I had ever heard. He brought tears to my eyes when he sang. With me he was kind, gentle and encouraging.
Yet he possessed an amazing wit and a scathing tongue when things went on that he did not agree with. It did not take me long to figure out that my Angel of Music and the Opera Ghost were one and the same. It seemed that he did not have an interest in just me, but in the Opera as a whole. He said he had to keep the Opera House running well so I had a place to perform.
He knew everything that went on. Be it rehearsals or backstage, there was nothing he did not hear, nothing he did not see. He despised Carlotta and called her a painted pig with a voice to match. Piangi, he said, was simply Carlotta's shadow, and any potential he had was ruined by Carlotta's pushy influence.
The chorus girls, he said, were merely a flock of hens, clucking just to hear their own voices. Where once their words reduced me to tears, I soon held my head high and ignored them, much to their chagrin. The only two people in the entire Opera House that he never said a word about were Madame Giry and her daughter, Meg. He did not encourage my friendship with Meg, but he never had anything bad to say about her.
Where my life had been muddled as I wallowed in pain and grief, the Angel of Music brought my life to a new level. I imagine it did not seem like much had changed to anyone who looked at me. I had always been accused of having my head in the clouds, and after my father's death I was drowning in sorrow. After the Angel of Music came to me, my life became like a dream. I was always expecting to hear his voice, though he only communicated to me in my dressing room, when I was alone. But even when I was not hearing his voice, he was with me, encouraging me simply because I knew he was there, watching, listening….
"Congratulations, my child…."
I was startled out of my reverie by his voice. "Oh, thank you, Angel. I could not have done it without you!"
"You flatter me, child. I could not have taught you, had you a voice like Carlotta's."
I giggled. "You will be watching, will you not?"
"Of course," he said.
"From Box Five?" I asked timidly.
It was widely known throughout the Opera House that the Opera Ghost occupied Box Five, the best box in the house. It was kept empty for his use. There was still much I did not understand about my Angel, but it was not in my nature to doubt, so I simply accepted that which I did not know.
I was nervous, wringing my hands and pacing through my dressing room.
"Calm down, child. You are making me nervous."
As he always did, the Angel knew exactly what to say to ease my nervousness. I smiled. "I have never performed a lead before, I am nervous!"
"You know your lines and you have rehearsed the steps a million times. You will be fine."
"Thank you Angel!"
Just then there was a tentative rap on the door. I knew it was my hairdresser, coming to help me into my costume and makeup.
I do not know exactly how I knew, but I instinctively knew that he was gone. Without his presence in the room it seemed cold and foreign.