понедельник, августа 05, 2013

The Maestro (Pt. 1)

Ever since that night, he could not step onto a podium without fearing that, at any moment, a burst of laughter would fill the concert hall or the opera house. He was unable to conduct without a glass or two of whisky, and his already famous attacks of fury and bouts of irritation on gala nights had acquired even more titanic proportions. He cancelled all three concerts he was going to conduct in Paris, a few hours before the first performance, after he noticed what he called a "sly smile" upon the first cello's face. The famous pianist Hans von Feuerwerke promised never to play again with him after being hit with his baton for playing the allegro in Chopin's First Piano Concerto too slowly. The leading soprano at the time, Renata Sottovoce, threatened to smash him under her one-hundred-and-seventy-five-kilo "coloratura machine" if he didn't stop complaining of the way she sang the Madness Aria in Lucia di Lammermoor. (Gasping for air like an asthmatic, the accompanying flutist had to be replaced after the seventeenth repetition of "Il dolce suono" during that recording session). The producer Ira de Olive, who had mentored the conductor during his early years and led him to international fame, had to intercede with the five-star hotel in London so that he could stay in another room after trashing his suite, the result of a night of too many drinks followed by too many nightmares in his sleep.

But what had happened on that night?