Emmanuel Montillo was sad, in pain and broke. He had had another strong fight with his wife, which might have been the last one. Everything had started several months ago. He used to think that they were lucky for not having children, but he regretted not getting along with her, because he truly loved her. However, he could not find another possible way out; it was a clear matter of mutual incompatibility.
He wanted to go for a walk, but he had a date that night. He was a violinist in the permanent orchestra of the main theater of the city. It was a prestigious theater and The Woman without a Shadow, by Richard Strauss, would be released that night. It was a complex and dramatic opera, in the form of a fantastic story, which boosted a deep reflection on mankind. And its music…
Emmanuel was a concertmaster and he had an arduous job ahead of him: the score had several soloist parts reserved for him, especially when the empress, the nurse or the spirit messenger sang. He had to pay full attention, he could not miss. In the theater, he had rehearsed hard with the conductor, an inflexible man with musicians, and also at home, whenever the constant disagreements with his wife let him do it.
He was scared; his hands shook all along the bus journey to the theater. He walked down five blocks from the entrance and headed towards his destiny with all his fears. His heart was telling him that he shouldn’t fail, but if that were to happen, it would not be just a failure, it would be the worst catastrophe of his career. People who watch this play forgive no mistake, as they are experts and have heard the opera in several theaters of the world, as it is not usually played for its difficulty. The large orchestra of 125 members was a difficult challenge, and he was the second most important musician after the conductor.
He arrived with his violin sleeping in its case and did not even visit the toilet to smarten him up, as he usually did. He went down the orchestra pit half an hour before the beginning of the play and greeted his partners with a nod. He perceived how tense everyone was. He peeped out the theater, the first audience was entering; everything was beautifully decorated in red and gold, the way he loved it, but that day it made him feel nothing but fear. It was an enormous coliseum, very high. It was quite difficult for the singers to fill the entire place with their voices and even harder for the orchestra to achieve the desired sonority.
All musicians took their places fifteen minutes before commencement, evidencing how anxious they were. At 8.30pm Emmanuel headed to the core of the orchestra to have everything ready. It all looked normal. Two minutes later, the conductor came in and the audience gave him a warm applause. Emmanuel was still shaking.
The orchestra began playing upon the first sign of the conductor with strong, golden and silver strains, which were mortal chords that cut the air and went into every ear and every head asking no permission. Emmanuel went through a transformation, a metamorphosis that lasted less than a second. He forgot his life, his fears. He consigned the entire world to oblivion. There were only his violin, the conductor, the score, the orchestra and all his passion and feelings, as he was a true musician.
Four and half hours later, the entire theater, enchanted by the orchestra and its conductor, cheering the fantastic singers who woke up the very same night with their voices, got the noisiest and longest standing ovation ever heard.
Emmanuel, coming back to reality in the middle of such an uproar, thought that whenever his wife reproached him for living for music and not for her, she was right, though he had always denied it. That very moment, he understood it all.
Translated by Flavia Marcos and Natalia Riera: Rima Traducciones