Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 2 Where Part 2 by Janette Miller

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid

Chapter 2 part 2 Where?

There was in the cast  one of King's and Tring’s favourite young gentlemen David. David was the flavour of the month. There was no doubt that David was brilliant and went on to fame and fortune. Normally this young gentleman would have stolen the show but the strangest thing started to happen. Although Antoinette had but two single lines she was mesmerizing.

The moment she arrived on stage the work started to live. David was brilliant but Antoinette was exceptional. The BBC director put her dead center and used her as the editing lynch pin for his program. She was so thin and pretty and classy. When she came on she sort of took in the house it was as if she actually looked at everyone in the audience personally.  When she sat still you looked at no one else and she could sit still.

Simon too for the first time in his life could not stop watching this tiny girl child. He forgot about David to the David’s annoyance although David was still given all the honors of the current favorite but the rides home in the silver Alvis and trips up to the Mill for tea stopped abruptly. David was a ghost.

Phebe! Simon thought. Antoinette could play Phebe! but could she sing Phebe that was the question? Simon had written Phebe for an adult not a boy treble and consequently it was very, very tricky and hard to sing. “I wonder?” Simon thought but as he watched the young girl and saw how her performance never varied. He became more confident that here at last was the girl he had been waiting for which would allow The Ghosts to be taken off the shelf where it had languished.

During the entire six weeks Simon never approached or spoke to Antoinette but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the star of the Churston Music Festival. The audiences loved her but Simon was still not sure she was up to it. The Ghosts was hellish difficult and had a sensitive subject – the seduction of young innocent children.

Simon started to make excuses to Trevor to go and watch rehearsals. Suddenly it appeared Simon was needed. Simon made sure he never actually talked to Antoinette but he watched her. He watched how she outplayed David who was as brilliant as ever. He watched how she coped with the ghastly costumes.

“The designer sure hated women’ thought Simon as he looked at the Marks & Sparks slippers that all the children had been forced to wear in the purpose of economy. 

Then one morning at breakfast Simon casually mentioned to Tring that he had possibly found a ‘Phebe’. Tring immediately became alarmed. There was a possibility that the BBC would mount a production of this opera next year.

“I’ve told you I am not doing that opera again.”

“Don’t worry. You will if I say so. This child might do.”

Reluctantly Trevor decided to take a look. He just turned up and he did not have to ask who this Phebe might be. It was obvious. “She’ll never be able to sing it” Tring consoled himself with this but I better make sure otherwise I shall have to sing Rawlings again. I’ll suggest a test and make sure she fails.”

A few discreet enquiries and Trevor found out that Antoinette had had no musical training, was a ballet dancer at a ballet school and had little formal education. Trevor knew exactly how to make a middle class girl fail and he would make it a BIG fail so she never came back.

That night Trevor casually mentioned to King that he had seen The Pied Piper that afternoon from the back.

“I didn’t want to make a fuss or put anyone off but I did see who you think could be Phebe. Yes she looks the part. Very upper class and proper and she has a sort of mousey charm which I find extraordinarily unattractive but could she stand the strain? Could she sing it? You ought to give her a trial run. A test!  I know the last night’s Wagner Concert. She could sing the solo in that little piece of Wagner that Wagner wrote for his wife Cosima on her birthday,  ‘Cosi Rosy’ and you could play for her. Oh it would look so charming and good for our reputations. A girl soloist instead of a boy. Oh you must”

“That’s too hard on her. It’s difficult. The boys needed weeks to get their solo lines right and they were simple. I made them simple. Wagner, any Wagner is not simple. I bet it has some horrible intervals. There is only a day. No that’s not a fair test.”

“Don’t be silly! It’s two lines. I’ll get Pansy Salmon to teach her. She can spend the mornings on it. Two mornings and you can play it through a couple of times. Pansy will say if she is not up to it.
Oh it will be enchanting.”

“But the whole of London will be there! The Duke is presenting it.
It’s the Festival’s main feature. Well it was until the success of The Pied Piper. Besides I haven’t even spoken to the child. No Trevor, think again.”

But Trevor was beguiling and indeed Simon had wanted to talk again to the child. She was so enchanting and pretty and her laugh was infectious so reluctantly Simon gave in with a proviso that he had rehearsals with her each day”.

Trevor agreed to everything but he instructed Pansy Salmon to give Antoinette just one short rehearsal. The first time she sang it through perfectly that was it. Then he saw to it that Simon King was too busy to rehearse or even play through. The first time they would play through would be on the night and even then it would only be half a play through. Antoinette would never have heard the introduction, which was over two minutes long. She would be unsure when to come in. Pansy was instructed not to play Antoinette the introduction.

Trevor smiled to himself. That should do it. Should be a disaster and goodbye Antoinette. Trevor slept well that night.

To be continued.

Beautiful Miller's Maid Chapter 2 part 3 Where?

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