I wasn’t sure if this was a package deal or not, but I had auditioned for this conductor in New York and I had been hired to both sing in a new opera, as well as for a special one-time only, one song concert of revenge, and so I agreed to do these things. Contracts were signed, and I started preparing for both gigs.
I didn’t know that the concert was a revenge gig at first. All I knew was that he needed somebody to go to his old church and sing Panis Angelicus for a special service. Easy enough, right? So I got the music, refreshed it in my memory and my voice, and I drove to New York to make some super easy money. Why he needed someone from so far away to sing one song at a church service was beyond me, but I like paying gigs, so I wasn’t arguing.
When I arrived, I could almost see the maniacal glee spreading across his face. He was excited about this gig. He explained to me that he had recently been let go from a job with this church, but he was still in charge of this one last service, and he had been so impressed with my voice in the audition that he knew what he had to do. He had hired me to sing, and to sing so well that all of those old jerks that ran the place would be bowled over and feel great regret over their recent decision. I kid you not, he was rubbing his hands in anticipation. He could not wait for me to unleash vocal war onto those old church ladies down there. Oh, the looks on their faces!
We climbed up into the balcony and waited for the congregants to arrive. This service was part of some sort of feast or festival, and it included a long parade through the streets of the city, culminating in a worship celebration in the sanctuary. When they arrived, the organ began to play and everyone took their seats. Before long, it was time for me to sing. I stood up, firmly on team vengeance, ready to make those people pay for what they had done through the power of song. Now I could not wait either!
What happened next is a matter of some contention. He swears it was my fault, and I know that it was his. Either way, disaster struck. It all started off so well, but about halfway through the piece the music migrates to a related key for a moment, and right at this key (heh) moment, as I recall, he played a big old clunker of a chord on the organ. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he was too excited. Maybe his hand was sweaty. I don’t know why, but he played something not in the music that threw me off completely, and so I jumped to a new key that was a little too high for me to be singing in, and certainly not the same key in which he was playing the organ. I moaned and squeaked my way through, finally finding my way back right at the last note of the piece. It was a complete train wreck.
The church leaders did not regret their decision. In fact, they may have celebrated it. If this was the kind of idiot that was going to be brought in to sing, well… So my being hired did not have the desired effect. I did get paid for that gig (thankfully up front), but there then turned out to be a small scheduling problem or something, and I was un-hired to sing in the upcoming opera. My relationship with him ended and I have never seen nor heard from him again. And honestly, I can’t blame him. I totally sucked, and I ruined his revenge. Even if it was his fault. Which it totally was.