Music and theater and opera and art and the whole damn thing.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
The fatal cell phone call during Mahler's Ninth
I'm imagining a movie scenario ... a young maestro playing with his wife and children. His son is being very annoying with a toy gun, and the father puts it in his pocket. He's all tux'd up for a concert, and he forgets to give the gun back when he leaves. In mid concert, a cell phone goes off. He glares behind him, and sees an elderly concert-goer fumbling with his phone. It ceases to ring. The maestro returns to the music. Half an hour later, at a moment of extreme musical serenity and involvement ... the phone goes off again. Obviously the same one. The idiot has left it on. The maestro turns white with fury, and it goes on and on. He grips his pockets and finds, to his surprise, the toy plastic gun still in one of them. He whips it out and aims at the old man, who is stubbornly refusing to pull out his phone, acknowledge that it's his mistake. But the sight of the gun is too much. He turns white as a sheet with fear. Someone else, seeing the gun, drops a violin ... or something else that makes a sharp, shocking noise. The old man in Row A believes it's a shot and slumps, dying, to the floor. His wife screams. Uproar in the hall. Newspapers stop the presses. TV moralists denounce. The maestro's smug best friend, who is really the maestro's wife's lover, makes suspiciously soothing statements that sound callous and revelatory when they are printed ... as they are. The maestro takes a leave of absence, but every time he hears a cell phone, his skin turns green and clammy. He's beginning to drink a great deal. His hands are haunted by a tremor. He hallucinates conversations, convinced his wife and her lover tricked him into pulling the toy gun out of his pocket in mid-concert. He has visions in his room. The sound of the sea sounds like a concert. He rises to conduct it, but the crashing surf ignores him. He sees the musicians in the surf, laughing at his instructions. He reaches out for a baton -- and seizes a poisonous snake by the tail. The venom has soon paralyzed him on the veranda floor. Before the snake can inflict an entirely lethal bite, his young son sees what is happening through a window of the veranda. He reaches for his toy gun -- but it isn't near to hand. He gets the real one instead. He fires at the snake but the bullet goes wide -- and right through the conductor's temple. The only hope is to call for an ambulance. The boy runs screaming out of the house but there's no one for miles in any direction. However, the conductor, jolted lucid, despite the masses of blood oozing out of him, manages to reach through a jacket and find his cell phone. He dials an emergency number. The operator puts him on hold. The music for "hold" is the symphony he was conducting that night in New York ... he suffers a massive convulsion and dies before our eyes ...