In mid-February of the following year, four years after the fire, the Opera Populaire was almost ready for the reopening. Only some minor cleaning and touch-up needed to be done before the building would be milling with music enthusiasts again. Dubois & Suligny had heavily invested in the restoration and as a consequence M. Dubois had been asked to act as artistic advisor. He knew that this would put him in the position of being able to decide which operas and ballets would be performed and expected the prior investment to pay off nicely over the years to come.
A company of singers dancers and musicians had been hired as well as all the other staff necessary to run such a huge company. Some of the employees were talented young new people, some had already worked for the Opera Populaire before the fire and were now returning. Among the letter group were the two Girys and M. Reyer.
The program for the gala concert had been finalized a while ago and M. Reyer was beginning to rehearse with the orchestra. They had been told that the composer Chabrier, who would play the violin part of his concerto "In memoriam Gustave Daaé" and his wife, who would perform a bravura aria that her husband had written for this occasion, would arrive in Paris the next week. Since the orchestra parts for both pieces were rather complex, M. Reyer decided to start rehearsals with these two works.
The young musicians worked hard, and after a few days they started to sound quite good. M. Reyer was satisfied. "I have been informed that M. Chabrier and his family will arrive in Paris tomorrow," he announced one day after rehearsal. "They will be available for a run-through of both, the concerto and the aria the day after tomorrow. If you play your parts as well then as you did now, I am fairly certain they will be pleased with your achievements."
An elderly cellist looked up. "Have you ever heard M. Chabrier perform?" he asked. "He writes good music but does that mean he can play the violin? That solo part is quite a challenge. As to the aria – I don't know. This requires a very, very accomplished soprano and as far as I know, Mme. Chabrier has never sung in public before. Just because she is married to a composer does not mean she can handle such a difficult aria."
M. Reyer smiled. "I am sure they will both be perfect," he said. "M. Chabrier's compositions show a superior understanding for every single instrument, he uses all of them to the greatest effect. I am certain he masters at least several of them himself. As to his wife… I think I have heard her perform and if I am right, then the aria is written to suit her voice to perfection."
Two days later Erik and Christine returned to the Opera Populaire together. M. Dubois accompanied them and showed them to their shared dressing room. They had explicitly asked for that so that they could take the boys with them. Since the Girys would be working at the gala as well and all their other friends would be in the audience, there was nobody who could babysit them. Philippe was now two and a half years old and spoke almost fluently, while Charles was one and starting to walk.
To Christine's delight they were assigned her old dressing room. Once they were alone, she looked at the new mirror which hang in the exact same place as the one through which Erik had come to her after the performance of "Hannibal". Her eyes were sparkling with happiness. "It was here that I met you in person for the first time," she said to her husband. "I did not know it then, but I think I already loved you then." Erik looked her deep in the eyes. "I ost certainly already loved you then," he said, before their lips met in a deep, passionate kiss.
Rehearsals with the orchestra would start soon and Christine hoped to find Meg or Mme. Giry and ask them to keep an eye on the boys while she and Erik would be working. Erik stayed behind. The dressing room had awoken memories in him, both good and bad. Here in this house he had found his love and here he had almost lost her forever. Fate had been merciful and granted them a second chance. In a way it was good to be back in the place and relive the positive memories, but in a way he was also glad that all this lay behind them.
Christine was hurrying through the corridors, her sons in tow, looking for the ballet mistress, when she heard a familiar voice call her name. "Mlle. Daaé!" She turned to see M. Reyer stand in the door of another dressing room "M. Reyer!" she exclaimed, "good to see you again." The old conductor smiled at her. "It is Mme. Chabrier now, is it not?" Christine nodded, blushing. "How did you know?" she asked. "We have not made the announcement yet …"
Reyer smiled at her. "Who else would he have married?" he asked enigmatically. "I always knew the two of you belonged together. Besides, the violin concerto is dedicated to your father. And the Comte de Chagny had so much inside knowledge." Christine looked at him uncertainly. What had he meant with the first comment? M. Reyer held her gaze. "I am glad everything turned out well after all," he continued. "Your husband is a great composer and I am honored to work with him." He looked at the boys. "Your sons?" he asked. "They are adorable little boys."
Christine smiled at him "Thank you," she murmured. "The boys are our pride and joy." She could not help the feeling that Reyer knew. "I am looking for Mme. Giry wo promised to keep an ye on them while Erik and I rehearse," she explained, taking her leave from the old conductor.
She soon found Mme. Giry who took care of the boys. Then Christine went to the stage for rehearsal. The orchestra were tuning their instruments, when Erik arrived. Christine was moved to tears, when she recognized the violin in his hands. It was not his own one, but her father's. M. Reyer greeted him like an old friend. "M. Chabrier," he said. "It's good to see you I have always admired your music and I am glad to finally meet you in person." Erik gave him a surprised look. Had M. Reyer put special emphasis on the word 'always'?
M. Reyer seemed to ignore the composer's slight unease and continued. "I just met your wife and the two boys earlier. Congratulations on your lovely family." The old cellist stared at him. Apparently the conductor knew this composer and his family. Small wonder he had been so confident the Chabriers would excel. His eyes widened in realization when Reyer added. "Let's get started with the concerto now, to honor the memory of your father-in-law." The concerto was dedicated to Gustave Daaé and if he was the composer's father-in-law, then Mme. Chabrier could be no other than the former Mlle. Daaé!
Reyer raised his baton and the orchestra began to play. Then Erik's solo violin joined in and everybody was wrapped up in the beauty of the melody and the heart-felt interpretation. Marelli's
performance had been extraordinarily pleasing, but Erik's virtuosity turned his own composition into something magical, breathtakingly beautiful. Once they had finished all four movements the musicians broke out in applause and congratulated Erik. They assured him they had never heard a more inspired performance.
Then Christine came on and sang her aria. Neither the high tessitura nor the firework of coloratura seemed to be a problem for her, it all sounded so effortless. When she reached the cadenza, Erik took out his violin again, providing an echo and a counterpoint to her singing. Everybody was holding their breath as her voice and his violin climaxed together. Once they were finished all remained silent for a moment, then roaring applause broke out. Everybody knew that the reopening of the Opera Populaire would be a huge success.
Two weeks later the gala concert took place. Every single piece on the program was well rehearsed and well received, but tout Paris agreed that the two Chabriers had been the absolute highlights of the evening. They now knew why de Chagny had been so well informed. The elusive composer was married to the former Vicomtesse and the older one of the two Chabrier-boys was actually the Comte's grandson.
Christine and Erik were showered with offers to perform more often. Christine encouraged Erik to accept some of those, while she declined. Two days before the gala concert she had known for sure that she was with child again. Both her and Erik were overjoyed at the news and Nadir smiled. Hadn't he predicted that these two would end up with a lot of children once they realized that their love was mutual?
Just before Christmas Christine gave birth to a little girl. Erik once again stayed with her the whole time. They had both secretly hoped for a girl, "though if it's another boy, we at least have experience with those by now," as they used to say. The baby resembled her mother very much, which made Erik extremely happy, and Marie beamed with pride when Erik asked her if she would be his daughter's godmother as well. Madeleine Marie Chabrier was baptized on Christmas Eve.
A year and a half later another little girl followed, Marguerite Christine. After her birth Christine returned to the stage for the occasional production. The audience particularly liked it when Christine and Erik performed together, preferably one of Erik's compositions. Wherever the Chabriers appeared together, everybody admired the love between the two artists and their beautiful children, all of which were incredibly talented for music, but none of them more than the youngest son, Gustave Nadir Chabrier, who was born almost eight years after his sisters and seemed to have inherited the combined talents of both his parents and his maternal grandfather and namesake Gustave Daaé.