6) JENNIFER BASSETT - The Phantom of the Opera

6 La Cariotta sings Margarita

On Friday morning La Cariotta had her breakfast in bed.
She drank her coffee and opened her morning letters. One letter
had no name on it. It was very short.
You are ill. You cannot sing Margarita tonight. Stay at home
and don't go to the Opera House. Accidents can happen.
Do you want to lose your voice - for ever?
La Carlotta was very, very angry. She got out of bed at once
and did not finish her breakfast.
'This is from Christine Daae's friends,' she thought. 'They
want her to sing again tonight. That Daae girl is going to be
sorry for this! I, La Carlotta, I am the best opera singer in Paris.
And nothing is going to stop me singing Margarita tonight!'
At six o'clock that evening the dancers were in their dressingroom.
They talked and laughed and put on their red and black
dresses for Faust. But Meg Giry was very quiet.
'What's the matter, Meg?' Annie Sorelli asked.
'It's the Opera ghost,' Meg said. 'My mother says he's angry.
She's afraid that something's going to happen tonight.'
'Oh, pooh!' the girl with black hair said. 'Who's afraid of an
old ghost?'
An hour later Monsieur Armand and Monsieur Firmin went
into Box 5 and sat down. They were not afraid of ghosts. Of
course not. There were no ghosts in the Opera House.
Then Monsieur Armand saw some flowers on the floor by
the door of the box. 'Firmin,' he whispered, 'did you put those
flowers there?'
Monsieur Firmin looked. 'No, I didn't,' he whispered back.
'Did you?'
'Of course not, you fool! Shh, the music's beginning.'
La Carlotta did not sing for the first hour. There were no
strange voices in Box 5, and the two directors began to feel
happier. Then La Carlotta came out onto the stage, and
Monsieur Firmin looked at Monsieur Armand.
'Did you hear a voice just then?' he asked quietly.
No!' Monsieur Armand said, but he looked behind him
rwice, then three times, and suddenly felt cold.
La Carlotta sang and sang, and nothing happened. Then she
began a beautiful love song.
'My love begins to - Co-ack!'
Everybody stared. What was the matter with Carlotta's
voice? What was that strange noise - Co-ack?
Carlotta stopped and began the song again.
'My love begins to - Co-ack!
I cannot forget my - Co-ack!'
It was the noise of a road! People began to talk and laugh.
Monsieur Firmin put his head in his hands. Then he felt
Monsieur Armand's hand on his arm. There was a voice in the
box with them! A man's voice, laughing!
Poor Carlotta tried again, and again.
'I cannot forget my - Co-ack!'
Then the two directors heard the voice again, behind them,
in front of them, everywhere. 'Her singing tonight is going to
bring down the chandelier!'
The two directors looked up at the top of the Opera House.
Their faces were white. The famous chandelier, with its
thousand lights, broke away from its ropes and crashed down
on to the people below.
That was a terrible night for the Paris Opera House. One
woman was killed by the chandelier, and many people were
hurt. The Opera House closed for two weeks. And La Carlotta
never sang again.