Characters/Pairings- Erik, Giacomo Puccini, teensy hints of E/M
Summary- Christine was not the only great talent Erik nurtured in his lifetime...
A/N- The idea just struck me this evening as I was on a Doctor Who high and swooning away to the majesty that is Pavarotti + Puccini, and this just happened. It's kinda weird, but hey, it totally makes sense.
He fled Paris in the aftermath. Madame and her daughter (though he suspected that the former would not have given a fig what happened to him at that juncture, if the latter had not pleaded so passionately on his behalf) spirited him away to Italy. It seemed the natural choice.
He found himself a job teaching composition at the Milan Conservatory. He did not like it. People made snide comments about his mask, and not one of his pupils showed any real promise, every last one of them churning out charming but formulaic compositions designed purely to earn them fame and titillate the masses. If he could afford to, he would have burned every single sheet of staff paper in the school and resigned, because not a note was worth the ink. But without his exorbitant income extorted from the managers of l'Opera Populaire, he is dependent upon his salary.
Ten years plod by, and he missed Christine but he resolved to leave that behind, and succeeded as well as could be expected. And that is when he comes to the conservatory.
He had a long musical tradition in his family, and at first Erik though he was only there because he didn't know what else to do with himself. His composing showed some promise, more than the other idiotic drones Erik found himself surrounded with, but it lacked inspiration. He was writing mostly hymns and things for the church, nothing spectacular.
Then one night, very late, Giacomo came racing into his office- didn't even bother to knock!- with wild excitement in his eyes and breathless.
"I've just... just seen..." He was out of breath, and paused, drawing in several gasping lungfuls before continuing. "I've just come from a production of Aida!" he exclaimed. "I ran all the way from Pisa!"
And the pieces fell into place. Erik knew that desperate elation in Giacomo's eyes. The young man had just seen his first opera. Erik remembered his own first opera... that was Verdi, too. La Traviata. A true masterpiece, as far as he is concerned.
"I know, now," Giacomo exclaimed excitedly. "I know what you meant, when you said the music needed to live! Signor Destler... please, you're a genius. You know opera. You do, I know you do. You must teach me everything."
He saw something of himself in this eager young man, suddenly. Giacomo had a certain spark about him, and a gift for melody that Erik had never seen in anyone else before.
"Yes. Yes, I will teach you."
Giacomo, in Erik's opinion, never reached his full potential. He was a grand composer, but he relied heavily on that talent for melody and did not always develop the complex underlayers of his sound to best effect. Still, he composed operas that were both emotionally moving and deep, and popularly appealing, and Erik had to admit, he had style. He tended to be a bit maudlin, but then again... so did Erik. Whether the master influenced the pupil or whether it was in Giacomo's own nature to tend towards the very melodramatic was hard to say. Erik didn't care. He liked that Giacomo was shamelessly playing on his audience's emotions.
In 1919, Erik made one last visit to Paris. He had at last heard the news of Christine Daae's death, and he paid his respects at her tomb. Meg went with him.
When he returned, he knew he was growing old. He could feel his age now more than ever, and his Meg was not so young, either. But he had one last song to write... He did not know if it was for Christine or for Meg. Maybe neither. Maybe this, at last, was for himself alone. Maybe it was all three.
Or maybe... maybe it was for Giacomo.
His music could never be published under his own name, because he did not even know it. But this last song could, perhaps, find its place.
"Take this," he told Giacomo, when it was finished. "I am going away now, Meg and I together, and I do not think you and I will see each other again, but I want you to have this."
"What is it?" the younger composer asked.
"An aria. An aria for tenor. There is no libretto, just the score. Please... put it into one of your operas for me, won't you?"
Giacomo nodded. They shook hands, and parted ways.
Erik, who went by Destler though it is not his name, and Meg who took the same surname forty years earlier, departed from Torre del Lago two months later, and never returned. No one knows what happened to the aging pair, but one thing is for certain. Many years later, a large stack of compositions of unearthly beauty would be discovered in the possession of his pupil's grandson.
In the final days of his life, Giacomo rushed to complete one last opera. He never finished it... but he honored a promise he had made several years before to his maestro and friend. The last portion of the opera that he was able to complete before his death included two arias. One was written by Giacomo himself, in memory of the blonde woman he had watched stand by that same maestro, supporting him even in his worst days and blackest moods, sacrificing everything she had to give again and again to protect and care for a tormented genius. The other, which came first in the opera, was (though no one knew it) not actually composed by Giacomo himself.
Two years after the death of Giacomo Puccini, his last opera, Turandot, was played before a sold out theatre. And in the third act, one aria was performed by a young tenor named Miguel Fleta that brought the audience to its feet with its stupendous power and majesty. What no one knew- what no one would ever know- was that that aria was the last composition of a far greater master than Puccini would ever claim to be.
Nessun Dorma was the last legacy of the Angel of Music.
A/N2- If you haven't heard it... well, what the hell rock have YOU been living under for the last hundred years? It's arguably the most commonly recognized aria ever! For god's sake, YouTube Pavarotti singing it. Or better yet, review and THEN YouTube it... Puccini tapped into some very critical emotions, and I think that would have appealed to certain sides of Erik's nature very deeply, for all that it was kind of "pop opera" if there can even be such a thing? Eh, whatever, Puccini was a genius whatever can be said of him otherwise. And to those of you following The Phoenix, yes I did just totally imply that Liu's Aria was actually written for Meg. What can I say? I'm a total sucker for all things Turandot. It was my first opera obsession when I was ten or so, and that kinda sticks with you.