(We have reached the great choral scene in which HANNIBAL and his army return to save Carthage from the Roman invasion under Scipio. HANNIBAL is UBALDO PIANGI; ELISSA, Queen of Carthage (his mistress) is CARLOTTA GUIDICELLI. The two leading SLAVE GIRLS are played by MEG GIRY and CHRISTINE DAAE. MME. GIRY is the ballet mistress. M. REYER, the repetiteur, is in charge.

We join the opera towards the end of ELISSA's (CARLOTTA's) great aria. She is alone, holding a pre. from the approaching HANNIBAL, a bleeding severed head)

CARLOTTA (at the climax of an extravagant cade)

This trophy from our saviours, from the enslaving force of Rome!

(A STAGE HAND carries a ladder across the stage. OTHERS are seen still constructing parts of the scenery)

GIRLS' CHORUS

With feasting and dancing and song,
tonight in celebration
we greet the victorious throng,
returned to bring salvation!

MEN'S CHORUS

The trumpets of Carthage resound !
Hear, Romans, now and tremble!
Hark to our step on the ground!

ALL

Hear the drums - Hannibal comes!

(PIANGI enters, as HANNIBAL)

PIANGI (HANNIBAL)

Sad to return to find the land we love
threatened once more by Roma's far-reaching
grasp.

REYER (interrupting him)

Signor . . . if you please: "Rome". We say
"Rome' not "Roma"

PIANGI

Si, si, Rome, not Roma. Is very hard for me.
(practising) Rome . . . Rome . . .

(Enter LEFEVRE, the retiring manager of the Opera, with M. FIRMIN and M. ANDRE, to whom he has just sold it)

REYER (to PIANGI)

Once again, then, if you please, Signor: "Sad to return . . ."

LEFEVRE (to ANDRE and FIRMIN)

(spoken) This way, gentlemen, this way. Rehearsals, as you see, are under way, for a new production of Chalumeau's "Hannibal".

(Seeing a hiatus in the rehearsal, LEFEVRE attempts to attract attention.)

LEFEVRE

(spoken) Ladies and gentlemen, some of you may already perhaps, have met M. Andre and M. Firmin ...

(The new managers are politely bowing, when REYER interrupts)

REYER

(spoken) I'm sorry, M. Lefevre, we are rehearsing. If you wouldn't mind waiting a moment?

LEFEVRE

My apologies, M. Reyer. Proceed, proceed ...

REYER

Thank you, monsieur (turning back to PIANGI).
"Sad to return..." Signor ...

LEFEVRE (sotto voce to ANDRE and FIRMIN)

M. Reyer, our chief repetiteur. Rather a tyrant, I'm afraid.

(The rehearsal continues)

PIANGI (HANNIBAL)

Sad to return to find the land we love
threatened once more by
Rome's far-reaching grasp.
Tomorrow we shall break
the chains of Rome.
Tonight, rejoice - your army has
come home.

(BALLET GIRLS begin their dance. LEFEVRE, ANDRE and FIRMIN stand centr-stage watching the ballet. They are in the way. The ballet continues under the following dialogue.)

LEFEVRE (indicating PIANGI)

(spoken) Signor Piangi, our principal tenor. He does play so opposite La Carlotta.

GIRY (exasperated by their presence, bangs her cane angrily on the stage)

(spoken) Gentlemen, please! If you would kindly move to one side?

LEFEVRE

My apologies, Mme. Giry. (leading ANDRE and FIRMIN aside) Mme. Giry, our ballet mistress. I don't mind confessing, M. Firmin, I shan't be sorry to be rid of the whole blessed business.

FIRMIN

I keep asking you, monsieur, why exactly are you retiring?

LEFEVRE (ignoring this, calls his attention to the continuing ballet)

We take a particular pride here in the excellence of our ballets.

(MEG becomes prominent among the dancers)

ANDRE

Who's that girl, Lefevre?

LEFEVRE

Her? Meg Giry, Madame Giry's daughter. Promising dancer, M. Andre, most promising.

(CHRISTINE becomes prominent. She has absent-mlndedly fallen out-of-step)

GIRY (spotting her, bangs her cane again)

You! Christine Daae! Concentrate, girl!

MEG (quietly, to CHRISTINE)

Christine . . . What's the matter?

FIRMIN (to LEFEVRE)

Daae? Curious name.

LEFEVRE

Swedish.

ANDRE

Any relation to the violinist?

LEFEVRE

His daughter, I believe. Always has her head in the clouds, I'm afraid.

(The ballet continues to its climax and ends. The CHORUS resumes)

CHORUS

Bid welcome to Hannibal's guests -
the elephants of Carthage!
As guides on our conquering quests,
Dido sends
Hannibal's friends!

(The ELEPHANT, a life-sized mechanical replica, enters. PIANGI is lifted, in triumph, onto its back)

CARLOTTA (ELISSA)

Once more to my
welcoming arms
my love returns
in splendour!

PIANGI (HANNIBAL)

Once more to those
sweetest of charms
my heart and soul
surrender!

CHORUS

The trumpeting elephants sound
hear, Romans, now and tremble!
Hark to their step on the ground
hear the drums!
Hannibal comes!

(At the end of the chorus LEFEVRE claps his hands for silence. The elephant is led off. Two stage-hands are revealed operating it from within)

LEFEVRE

Ladies and gentlemen - Madame Giry, thank you - may I have your attention, please? As you know, for some weeks there have been rumours of my imminent retirement. I can now tell you that these were all true and it is my pleasure to introduce to you the two gentlemen who now own the Opera Populaire, M. Richard Firmin and M. Gilles Andre.

(Polite applause. Some bowing. CARLOTTA makes her presence felt)

Gentlemen, Signora Carlotta Giudicelli, our leading soprano for five seasons now.

ANDRE

Of course, of course. I have experienced all your greatest roles, Signora.

LEFEVRE

And Signor Ubaldo Piangi

FIRMIN

An honour, Signor.

ANDRE

If I remember rightly, Elissa has a rather fine aria in Act Three of "Hannibal". I wonder, Signora, if, as a personal favour, you would oblige us with a private rendition? (Somewhat acerbic). Unless, of course, M. Reyer objects . . .

CARLOTTA

My manager commands . . .M. Reyer?

REYER

My diva commands. Will two bars be sufficient introduction?

FIRMIN

Two bars will be quite sufficient

REYER (ensuring that CARLOTTA is ready)

Signora?

CARLOTTA

Maestro.

(The introduction is played on the piano)

CARLOTTA

Think of me,
think of me fondly,
when we've said goodbye.
Remember me once in a while -
please promise me you'll try.

When you find that, once again, you long
to take your heart . . .

(As CARLOTTA is singing a backdrop crashes to the floor cutting her off from half the cast)

MEG/BALLET GIRLS/CHORUS

He's here:
the Phantom of the Opera . . .
He is with us . . .
It's the ghost . . .

PIANGI (looking up, furiously)

You idiots!

(He rushes over to CARLOTTA)

Cara! Cara! Are you hurt?

LEFEVRE

Signora! Are you all right? Buquet!
Where is Buquet ?

PIANGI

Is no one concerned for our prima donna?

LEFEVRE

Get that man down here ! (to ANDRE and FIRMIN) Chief of the flies. He's responsible for this.

(The drop is raised high enough to reveal upstage an old stagehand, JOSEPH BUQUET, holding a length of rope, which looks almost like a noose)

LEFEVRE

Buquet! For God's sake, man, what's going on up there?

BUQUET

Please monsieur
don't look at me:
as God's my witness,
I was not at my post.

Please monsieur
there's no one there:
and if there is, well
then, it must be a ghost . . .

MEG (looking up)

He's there; the Phantom of the Opera ...

ANDRE

Good heavens!
Will you show a little courtesy?

FIRMIN (to MEG and the OTHERS)

Mademoiselle, please!

ANDRE (to CARLOTTA)

These things do happen.

CARLOTTA

Si! These things do happen! Well, until you stop these things happening, this thing does not happen!
Ubaldo! Andiamo!

(PIANGI dutifully fetches her furs from the wings)

PIANGI

Amateurs !

LEFEVRE

I don't think there's much more to assist you, gentlemen. Good luck. If you need me, I shall be in Frankfurt .

(He leaves. The COMPANY looks anxiously at the NEW MANAGERS)

ANDRE

La Carlotta will be back.

GIRY

You think so, messieurs? I have a message, sir, from the Opera Ghost.

(The GIRLS twitter and twirl in fear)

FIRMIN

God in Heaven, you're all obsessed!

GIRY

He merely welcomes you to his opera house and commands you to continue to leave Box Five empty for his use and reminds you that his salary is due.

FIRMIN

His salary?

GIRY

Monsieur Lefevre paid him twenty thousand francs a month. Perhaps you can afford more, with the Vicomte de Chagny as your patron.

(Reaction to this from the BALLET GIRLS. CHRISTINE takes hold of MEG nervously)

ANDRE (to GIRY)

Madame, I had hoped to have made that announcement myself.

GIRY (to FIRMIN)

Will the Vicomte be at the performance tonight, monsieur?

FIRMIN

In our box.

ANDRE

Madame, who is the understudy for this role?

REYER

There is no understudy, monsieur - the production is new.

MEG

Christine Daae could sing it, sir.

FlRMIN

The chorus girl ?

MEG (to FIRMIN)

She's been taking lessons from a great teacher

ANDRE

From whom ?

CHRISTINE (uneasily)

I don't know, sir . . .

FIRMIN

Oh, not you as well! (turning to ANDRE) Can you believe it? A full house - and we have to cancel !

GIRY

Let her sing for you, monsieur. She has been well taught.

REYER (after a pause)

From the beginning of the aria then, mam'selle.

CHRISTINE

Think of me
think of me fondly,
when we've said goodbye.
Remember me once in a while -
please promise me you'll try.

FIRMIN

Andre, this is doing nothing for my nerves.

ANDRE

Don't fret, Firmin.

CHRISTINE

When you find that, once
again, you long
to take your heart back and be free -
if you ever find a moment,
spare a thought for me

(Transformation to the Gala. CHRISTINE is revealed in full costume)

We never said
our love was evergreen,
or as unchanging as the sea -
but if you can still remember
stop and think of me . . .

Think of all the things
we've shared and seen -
don't think about the things
which might have been . . .

Think of me,
think of me waking,
silent and resigned.

Imagine me,
trying too hard to put you
from my mind.

Recall those days
look back on all those times,
think of the things
we'll never do -
there will never be a day,
when I won't think of you . .

(Applause, bravos. Prominent among the bravos, those of the young RAOUL in the MANAGERS' box)

RAOUL

Can it be?
Can it be Christine?

Bravo!

(He raises his opera-glasses)

What a change!
You're really not a bit
the gawkish girl that once you were...

(Lowering his opera-glasses)

She may not remember me,
but I remember her...

CHRISTINE

We never said
our love was evergreen,
or as unchanging as the sea -
but please promise me,
that sometimes you will think
o-o-o-.... of me!


Lyrics submitted by fallacies

Rehearsals For "hannibal" By Chalumeau (scene 1) song meanings
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