I intend this fic to be a Phantom version of my Sherlock Holmes series Jottings from a Doctor's Journal: a collection of standalone scenes and situations. My main influence is the stage musical, but I have picked bits and pieces from elsewhere.
In this particular piece, I've adopted Madame giry's unofficial first name of Antoinette as I couldn't think of anything that suited her better. I like to think of her relationship with Erik as somewhere in between that of the movie and the novel.
ALL HE SURVEYS
Those milling about down on the stage looked so insignificant.
From a catwalk high above, the shadowy figure known as the Phantom of the Opera watched the proceedings and ground his teeth in annoyance. Auditions for the corps de ballet would usually be beneath his notice, but as the current manager, that idiot Lefevre, had recently seen fit to engage the services of Carlotta Guidicelli, the singing hippopotamus, as leading soprano, Erik had decided that he should keep control of at least something in his theatre. Antoinette Giry suggested that Lefevre had taken Carlotta on against Erik's express instructions because he was more frightened of the overbearing diva than of the Opera Ghost, an insinuation which Erik did not find amusing but, having seen the awful woman in action, could well believe.
And so, here he was, observing from above and becoming more and more bored by the moment as yet another eager but ultimately inconsequential hopeful twirled and trilled before Lefevre, the conductor Monsieur Reyer and Madame Giry herself. They were all so keen and in the first flush of youth, no doubt blissfully unaware of the years of hard work which awaited them before they had a chance of even ten seconds in the limelight. From their first day with the corps they would discover what a grind it was, a far cry from the glamour they expected.
Antoinette's daughter Meg had already been accepted – having studied dance with her mother almost every day of her young life and practically lived in the opera house since she was old enough to walk, her audition was a mere formality. Pretty, poised and possessed of a sweet if untrained voice, Erik could not object to little Giry's selection. He could see her now, huddled with some of the older ballerinas in the wings, watching proceedings with wide eyes.
All of the other so far successful girls were unremarkable and of scant interest to him. Though he kept an eye on the ballet, it was the music which really mattered as far as Erik was concerned. The opera could do without its dancers, but without lady music it would be nothing and it was his responsibility to ensure that she was respected and treated with the delicacy she deserved. Therefore he had been careful to train Lefevre to trust the suggestions made by the Opera Ghost over his own ignorant inclinations. It was because of Erik that the Populaire was currently riding high in public estimation, and just recently he decided that he was due some sort of reparation for the hard work he put in to making it a success. Lefevre had nearly had a coronary at the thought of paying twenty thousand francs a month to a spirit, but he was eventually persuaded to see the sense in it. Erik had made sure that he altered the memorandum books to that effect, just in case a change in management was less amenable.
Deciding that he could find better uses for his time than hanging around in the flies watching the selection of the new crop of ballet rats, he began to descend. Thankfully, all the stage hands were more interested in what was happening out in front to look above them. Erik was glad of this – the senior fly man, Buquet, was getting far too interested in the doings of the Phantom and they had had several close calls recently. So close that Buquet's ghost stories now included a reasonably accurate description, much to Erik's chagrin.
He had reached the lower catwalk and was heading towards the crawlspace which would take him into the backstage area when quite suddenly a clear, pure voice stopped him in his tracks. Gazing down, he saw that a new girl had taken the stage, a rather thin, awkward child with a plain dove grey gown and unruly brown ringlets. Her face was tilted upwards and her eyes closed as she sang, a tear forming at the corners. Though he did not recognise the song, the voice cut through him right to the black and bitter heart he harboured in his breast. Though it was a little rough and would need expert tuition to reach its full potential, there was no denying that which was almost painfully obvious: the girl sang like an angel.
Quickly, Erik located Madame Giry. The ballet mistress, austere as always in her widow's weeds, stood back in the wings watching this latest candidate critically. She did not move a muscle but must have sensed his presence from long experience as he dropped silently to the floor behind her, disappearing immediately into the shadows.
He pitched his voice so that it reached her ears alone. "Who is she?"
"Christine Daae." Her lips barely twitched but he heard her. "From a Swedish family, I believe."
"Daae... Daae... the daughter of the violinist?" Erik never forgot a name, and he certainly remembered the virtuoso performance of Gustave Daae at the opera house nearly five years before. "I read of his death recently."
"Quite possibly. I did not enquire." Madame Giry risked a quick glance over her shoulder. "Why the sudden interest in my ballet rats, Erik? It is most unlike you to grace us with your presence."
He ignored the gibe. "You must make sure that she is accepted, Antoinette," he said. "Do not allow those two fools to overrule you."
"There is no danger of that," she assured him, and he believed her. Madame Giry was famed throughout the company for her will of iron – no one, from the manager to the lowest member of the company, dared to defy her. "But you do realise it will look odd? See how she moves – she is like one of those baby giraffes, all legs and none of them working together."
"I am sure you can drum that out of her. But it matters not; it is her voice which is important, and it is a voice which needs the skills of the best tutor in France."
Antoinette snorted. "And I am sure you know just where to find him."
Erik drew his cloak tighter around himself and slid further into the darkness. "Oh, yes, Madame," his voice whispered, hanging in the air though he himself was gone, "She has a future far beyond an obscure place in the chorus.
"This I promise you. And when I am done, Paris... no, Europe, will ring to the name of La Daae."