The Phantom of the Opera (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 2

On the first landing, Sorelli ran against the Comte de Chagny, who was
coming up-stairs. The count, who was generally so calm, seemed greatly

"I was just going to you," he said, taking off his hat. "Oh, Sorelli,
what an evening! And Christine Daae: what a triumph!"

"Impossible!" said Meg Giry. "Six months ago, she used to sing like a
CROCK! But do let us get by, my dear count," continues the brat, with
a saucy curtsey. "We are going to inquire after a poor man who was
found hanging by the neck."

Just then the acting-manager came fussing past and stopped when he
heard this remark.

"What!" he exclaimed roughly. "Have you girls heard already? Well,
please forget about it for tonight--and above all don't let M. Debienne
and M. Poligny hear; it would upset them too much on their last day."

They all went on to the foyer of the ballet, which was already full of
people. The Comte de Chagny was right; no gala performance ever
equalled this one. All the great composers of the day had conducted
their own works in turns. Faure and Krauss had sung; and, on that
evening, Christine Daae had revealed her true self, for the first time,
to the astonished and enthusiastic audience. Gounod had conducted the
Funeral March of a Marionnette; Reyer, his beautiful overture to
Siguar; Saint Saens, the Danse Macabre and a Reverie Orientale;
Massenet, an unpublished Hungarian march; Guiraud, his Carnaval;
Delibes, the Valse Lente from Sylvia and the Pizzicati from Coppelia.
Mlle. Krauss had sung the bolero in the Vespri Siciliani; and Mlle.
Denise Bloch the drinking song in Lucrezia Borgia.

But the real triumph was reserved for Christine Daae, who had begun by
singing a few passages from Romeo and Juliet. It was the first time
that the young artist sang in this work of Gounod, which had not been
transferred to the Opera and which was revived at the Opera Comique
after it had been produced at the old Theatre Lyrique by Mme. Carvalho.
Those who heard her say that her voice, in these passages, was
seraphic; but this was nothing to the superhuman notes that she gave
forth in the prison scene and the final trio in FAUST, which she sang
in the place of La Carlotta, who was ill. No one had ever heard or
seen anything like it.

Daae revealed a new Margarita that night, a Margarita of a splendor, a
radiance hitherto unsuspected. The whole house went mad, rising to its
feet, shouting, cheering, clapping, while Christine sobbed and fainted
in the arms of her fellow-singers and had to be carried to her
dressing-room. A few subscribers, however, protested. Why had so great
a treasure been kept from them all that time? Till then, Christine
Daae had played a good Siebel to Carlotta's rather too splendidly
material Margarita. And it had needed Carlotta's incomprehensible and
inexcusable absence from this gala night for the little Daae, at a
moment's warning, to show all that she could do in a part of the
program reserved for the Spanish diva! Well, what the subscribers
wanted to know was, why had Debienne and Poligny applied to Daae, when
Carlotta was taken ill? Did they know of her hidden genius? And, if
they knew of it, why had they kept it hidden? And why had she kept it
hidden? Oddly enough, she was not known to have a professor of singing
at that moment. She had often said she meant to practise alone for the
future. The whole thing was a mystery.

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