When Giuseppe first sang to Elisaveta, her enchanting hazel eyes beguiled him. His heart beat in triple time. Don’t fall in love with your co-star, he thought.
Her singing shimmered with emotion, but off-stage Elisaveta froze him out. Other cast members shared champagne in her dressing room, bedecked with camellias delivered under her superdiva contract. Giuseppe longed for a single smile.
“You’re an East End Italian, mate,” his brother, Claudio, said. “She’s looking down her nose at you.”
Claudio custom-built radio-controlled sound systems, but was tone-deaf; couldn’t judge Elisaveta’s genius. However haughty, Giuseppe thought Elisaveta’s nose was exquisite. Audiences worshipped her. He felt reverence in the silences before she sang. She adored the adoration, smiling, her arms reaching out, embracing her public.
The evening began normally. Giuseppe sang of sorrow at losing his love. Elisaveta breathed in, poised to sing her death aria. In the expectant hush a ringtone blasted out – the EastEnders theme. Faces turned towards an empty box near the stage. Nobody moved. The ringtone increased, becoming louder, shriller. Bowing to Elisaveta, who had tears in her magnificent eyes, Giuseppe ran. Through doors, around corners, up stairs. Approaching the box, the ringtones were siren-loud. Two staff members inside, surrounded by sound, looked bewildered. Giuseppe pulled an iPhone from under a seat, raised it aloft to ensure everyone saw him silence it. Back on stage, he knelt, and with a single twist, destroyed the iPhone, scattering pieces before Elisaveta, kissing her hand. She smiled brilliantly, and finally sang. Even as she lay after ‘dying’, her lips curved towards Giuseppe.
Claudio was in row three. Booking the box at short notice had been tough. Giuseppe hoped no one would check it before Claudio could remove the miniature radio-controlled sound emitter he’d concealed there earlier, when he hid the pre-broken iPhone.