brig, ship, Horizon

Concert performance

The concert went off quite well, the main issues being that (a) I forgot part of my costume and (b) didn't leave enough time to warm up my voice before I left home -- I was assured we would be able to warm up after the safety talk at the hall, but in fact we weren't!
Both of these were largely a result of the fact that I spent the final hour before the concert working feverishly to get This Mask of Death successfully uploaded for the challenge, which I'm afraid probably says something about my priorities; ultimately, I'm a writer, not a performer.

In the event I managed to sing adequately 'cold', probably due to having been doing a lot of practice in the days beforehand; this time, however, the wobble did convey itself from my knees up into my voice, and I'll never know if that was the result of inadequate preparation or the stress of being billed as a solo performer with weeks of rehearsal rather than simply stepping in to take an emergency solo after a couple of days' intensive study, as in my previous experiences.

Some surprise was caused when I turned out to be the only performer to want to sing without a microphone (I've never been expected to sing with one), with some surprise being caused to me when I was asked nonetheless to step up and perform just six inches away from the object, despite having been informed that it wasn't switched on! I honestly wasn't sure if the result was due to the hall's being extremely resonant, or to my voice getting amplified, but I was assured that the mikes weren't in fact on. In which case I dread to think what it would have sounded like with them on...
(And it's not, so far as I'm aware, that I have a particularly loud voice, so the other students clearly weren't projecting at all; a totally different technique.)

Unfortunately I turn out to look like Eddie Izzard in stage make-up ;-p
Still, I managed to get back into my old concert clothes one more time, with rather less difficulty than last time in fact. Internet tensions have an unfortunate effect on my digestion, which does have a significant effect on my waistline :-(

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

This Mask of Death

Written for the Halloween Challenge at the Writers Anonymous forum on FFnet -- or, to be more honest, this is the scene I was planning to write as an in-fandom 'Halloween Special', and which I thought I might be able to shoehorn into the terms of the contest. I'm not really sure it will qualify (and certainly won't win on the stipulated grounds of 'how well the theme is incorporated'), since it's basically nothing to do with October or Halloween but just a retelling of the canonical graveyard scene from Leroux's book -- which, for some inscrutable reason, the author chose to present in the form of an after-the-fact police witness interview, thus stripping the Hammer Horror potential from the distinctly unnerving events actually implied to have taken place!

I have spent a good deal of effort on dithering as to whether I ought to take it up to the end of the chapter by including the last two scenes or not, or simply cut it off for better horror effect with the discovery of Raoul's apparently lifeless body as the finale. I was pretty much certain that the latter was the better course of action, but with the epilogue busy constructing itself in vivid impressions in my head, I made the mistake of deciding to write it out and then to ignore it. Unfortunately I enjoyed inventing Antoine far too much...

So I've more or less decided to enter the whole thing for the contest, which effectively constitutes a genre shift from pure horror to more of a focus on Raoul and Christine's relationship with one another and with her father. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it :-p
Horror/Romance won't do as a category, because there really isn't any bar Raoul's remembered frustration, but I think Horror/Family can be made to fit if we consider the quasi-foster-sibling relationship they have at this point.

This Mask of Death

“ ne sais point jusqu’où s’en fut mon imagination, ni où elle s’arrêta...”

It was a cloudless night, with the moon riding cold and distant above, and the world was in the grip of a hard frost. Snow had fallen to veil the barren ground, and the ancient granite slabs that kept their sentry-watch across the moor — like so many cairns piled by the hands of giants — wore wind-blown drifts of white between their stacked stones, as if korrigans dwelt within and had stopped up the draughts with handfuls of snow in lieu of heather. But the biting breeze that had sprung up at sunset had long since ebbed to silence, and the high heath lay frozen and unmoving beneath the moon. Only the waves tossed endlessly in the bay far below, hissing with age-old hunger against their pallid fringes of sand.

And in the graveyard at Perros-Guirec, where the hill ran down to the sea, a shadow moved amongst the dead.

Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

Facial tic

Apparently I've acquired a twitch in my right eye when I sing; I've checked in a mirror, and it's true :-(

Since I can't feel it, let alone control it consciously, the only thing I can do is try to make sure no-one sees me sing in close-up :-(

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
  • Current Mood
    embarrassed embarrassed
  • Tags
brig, ship, Horizon

Hammerstein... complete?

I think I've actually finished the Hammerstein-story (which I'm really going to have to find a title for).

I came across the New York Times report on the real first night at the new Manhattan Opera, which ironically enough makes it plain that my hypothesis about the Opera House not being ready and the gala having to be postponed would have been entirely historically apt -- it wasn't really ready for the grand opening as it was. However, the idea of Christine going off elsewhere for several months to escape the Phantom threat wouldn't really wash after I'd made such a plot point of the moral imperative to get her there on the night she was due to sing for the Phantom instead, so in the end I just had her rely on his promise to let her and Gustave "go free" (even though in canon and even in this story he obviously didn't keep to that intention for very long; he was trying to trap Raoul by the small hours of the following morning, i.e. rather less than a day later!)

Anyway, I was able to pinch lots of ideas about what the Manhattan Opera and its clientele were actually like from the contemporary reportage. :-)Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

If I were Vicomte (ch4)

Final and even more fragmentary sections; I spent a bit of time trying to make it a little clearer what was going on and to tie it together better, which pushed the word-count just about over a thousand words. It really does come across as a bit rushed, though... and I suspect, going on reviews so far, that the readers are going to feel short-changed by the total absence of any Phantom-related action. (That aspect hadn't even occurred to me while writing; set it down to my customary complete lack of interest in that direction.)

Yann barely even thinks about the Phantom here -- his jealousy is entirely concerned with his supposed aristocratic rival, or in other words his canon self. The whole 'Lyre of Apollo' confession and its consequences has been pretty much swept under the carpet... which is reasonably accurate to canon, since Raoul doesn't learn the truth until the day before Christine's abduction and spends most of the intervening period being jealous of an imagined rival, but does leave out a major and memorable element of the original: the bit that most people think of as the main part of the story :-(

4. Les Amants

Buffeted amid the chaos and panic of the Opera, Yann was desperate for help... and no-one would listen to him. But then, they never had. His own utter insignificance had never been driven so brutally home to him as in the past weeks, since Perros.

Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

A double dating problem

Wonderful inspiration this morning: I'd been worrying about how to make sure Christine gets paid if she plans to leave immediately after the gala, given that her contract presumably commits her to perform in the full opening season. I'd also been irritated by Lloyd Webber's sloppy dating, given that the real Manhattan Opera House opened in December 1906.

Then I suddenly remembered that Hammerstein had other opera houses elsewhere in America: why not send Christine off to Philadelphia instead while awaiting the real opening time? Admittedly this would involve redating the story to 1906 instead of 1907, but then that one wasn't my error in the first place!

Finally I checked the facts... and found that, sadly, the Philadelphia Opera House was actually opened two years after the Manhattan Opera, in 1908 :-( This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

brig, ship, Horizon

If I were Vicomte (ch3)

The chapters are still very short, but this one is actually longer than the previous one. (The fact that it's two scenes run together helps.)

Unfortunately, once we get Yann as far as Christine's dressing-room we start running into sections of the story that have already been described in greater detail in canon, so at this stage my version starts skipping wildly; in effect, the idea is that everything happens just as in canon from this point, Yann simply interprets it differently from his counterpart.

3. L’Officier

La Royale was good to the young Breton sailor. Yann proved quick and obedient, and self-possessed and nimble aloft. He drew the approbation of his officers without incurring the enmity of the sous-officier set over him, and found himself promoted; first among the seamen, then — after completing his first voyage around the world — among the cadets.

No allowances were made for his lack of education, and he was expected to study alongside the rest. Yann set his teeth and puzzled out mathematics and navigation along with the duffers of the class, taking a fierce pride in the speed with which he overhauled these schoolboys. It was at this time that he began to cultivate a moustache.

In the winter that he turned twenty-one he was a slim, bright-haired young man with a boyish freckled face, confident in his profession but shy among women, with whom his lack of experience put him at a disadvantage. In his leisure hours he read voraciously, in an attempt to remedy the deficiencies in his education. When one of the senior lieutenants proposed a party of pleasure to Paris among the young officers in port, since Yann’s ship was laid up for repairs for the next several months he for one accepted eagerly.

Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

An inescapable image

I'm being haunted by the memory of a pre-war novel I flicked through in a station waiting room on holiday a couple of weeks ago: I skim-read it pretty rapidly (exceedingly rapidly towards the end, partly because I was in a state of shock and partly because I was severely running out of time) and I don't remember in the least what it was called or who the author might have been. And I don't imagine there's another extant copy in the country, so I'm never likely to encounter it again...

Apparently it was the last volume in a trilogy (yes, they had them back then) and in the previous two books the heroine had progressed from being a 'fallen woman' out to ensnare a rich elderly husband to falling genuinely in love with his son and eloping with the young man. And they conduct a sort of tentative courtship during their honeymoon (which begins with her being horribly seasick for days on the trip up to Scotland on a slow tramp steamer!) while her husband tries to convince her that she is safe and he really does return her love, no matter who she was in the past and no matter what her original intentions towards him were. But all the time there is an unexplained trouble hinted at in the background.

And then just when they seem to have come together and be happy at last, a package arrives in the post from one of her old associates whom she now regards with hatred and fear. Her husband sees this as a sign of reconciliation to their marriage and insists on sending back a friendly letter, but she refuses even to open it. And when she finally does, late at night and some time later, it contains a loaded gun and a note saying 'You know what to do with this'.
Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
brig, ship, Horizon

If I were Vicomte (ch2)

I'm still not particularly happy with the first chapter of my Hammerstein-story, despite having rewritten three pages of it to cut out most of René and add in old Oscar himself. My suspicion is that it's a boring info-dump — and while I'm usually pretty good at those, the trouble is that this time no-one has any reason to care about any of the characters involved, Jos, McWhirter or René. So it's effectively just a massive plot summary to describe 'how Christine managed to go missing in the middle of New York', as told from the point of view of characters who didn't actually witness it :-(

It's frustrating, because I still think the idea in itself is original and promising; the experience does at least have the merit of making this preceding story seem better in contrast, even if this one is pretty fragmentary!

2. Matelot

It was three years before he saw Christine again, and when he did it was under very different circumstances. His father’s boat, caught by unseasonal gales, had put in at Toulon, and there the boy had caught the attention of the navy. Well-grown and muscled for his age, and handy on the water, Yann Le Coennec was just the type of sailor on whom the fleet had had its eye for centuries immemorial, and the long and the short of it was that young Yann had found himself enlisted almost willy-nilly into the Marine National — the service which he soon learned to call ‘La Royale’, the nickname for the navy time out of mind.

Yann accepted it with a shrug, as he accepted most things these days. But when he found himself with a few days’ embarkation leave a brief flicker of independence woke, and he turned aside from the long road back from his dépôt to call at the little house in Perros-Guirec.Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

brig, ship, Horizon

Hammerstein research

I've just spent a considerable time trying to establish exactly what opera with which singers really did open Oscar Hammerstein I's Manhattan Opera House: one source claims that it was "Norma" (hard to picture Christine Daaé rehearsing the role of Norma) but in fact it seems to have been another Bellini opera, "I Puritani", with the obscure Polish soprano Regine Pinkert in the lead. (In fact it looks as if this may have been the end for her of a career that started in 1892.)

But sadly for Andrew Lloyd Webber's plot, this opening night was actually December 3rd 1906 -- so Christine could hardly have been engaged "to open his new Manhattan Opera House" in summer 1907! Perhaps I should theorise that it was actually the start of a new season that she was supposed to be promoting... or simply feel at liberty to imitate the historical inaccuracy of the source material :-p

I thought I'd successfully patched last night's plot holes, Collapse )

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comment count unavailable comments.