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fic: Nights at the Opera (2)

Title: Nights at the Opera (number 2 in an occasional series)
Author: fengirl88
Category: Crossover (BBC Sherlock; E.M. Forster, Maurice; Merchant Ivory, film adaptation of Maurice)
Pairing: Lestrade/Maurice established relationship
Wordcount: ~1150
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None in the conventional sense. More shameless self-indulgence. More opera.
Disclaimer: I do not own ACD's or the BBC's Lestrade or E.M. Forster's or Merchant Ivory's Maurice. It was kopoushka 's idea to put them together in the first place. The line of dialogue quoted here is also not mine.
A/N: sequel to 221b ficlet, A Night at the Opera, and a further postscript to the exchange between Lestrade and Maurice about opera in Beginning To See The Light. kalypso_v suggested both the opera and the kind of production for this second outing.

Nights at the Opera (2)

Going live is still not going all the way, Lestrade tells himself. Though you can't just walk out of this the way you could at the cinema. However much you want to.  

Apart from anything else, they're sitting so close to the stage it would feel like becoming part of the action. Not that anyone's that far from the stage here. No wonder it was sold out; Maurice only just managed to get returns.  

Odd place to go to the opera, a disused chapel. Sitting in pews. That and Mozart have got him quite badly spooked, feeling like he's not allowed to swear even in his head.  

Bloody Sunday school has a lot to answer for.  

Though it turns out it's not just the setting that's making him think of that.      

“It's a shoestring production,” Maurice had said. “Opposite of Glyndebourne really. Apparently they don't even have a chorus.”  

“Oh, and they get away with that, do they?” Lestrade asked sceptically. One born every minute.  

“Well, the chorus is hardly in it,” Maurice said, considering. “One short burst of saying military life is wonderful and then the same thing again a few minutes later. I remember a student production in Cambridge that just used a gramophone record for those bits.”  

Gramophone,” Lestrade said mockingly, ruffling Maurice's hair. “You're a throwback, that's what you are.”  

“It's had good reviews,” Maurice said, leaning in to kiss Lestrade's neck.“And I've seen the baritone before – he's quite charming.”  

“All right,” Lestrade groaned, “you win. But if it's as arse-achingly dull as all the other Mozart I've ever heard we are not going to any more of this stuff.”  

“Mm,” Maurice said non-committally, sliding his hand between Lestrade's thighs. At which point Lestrade had become distracted and forgotten all about opera.    

So here they are at the sold-out, returns-only, edgy Così fan Tutte. Six singers and a piano. Edgy apparently means the pianist's in black shirt and black jeans and everyone else is wearing pyjamas. No set to speak of, just a bit of fold-up garden furniture and a trellis. Singers are all quite young; couple of them are still studying, though as Maurice explained opera singers go on studying later than most. Waiting for the voice to settle. Like a pint of Guinness or something.  

Not a good idea to start thinking about that in the middle of Act One. No chance of a drink for ages, and this plot is pissing him off quite severely. Has been ever since he read the synopsis in the programme. Why doesn't that interfering old git just let the poor stupid bastards get on with being deluded about their girlfriends? What good's it going to do them to find out the truth?  

Lestrade can imagine Donovan having a few crisp things to say about the way this one's shaping up: typical sexist misogynistic crap. Even the title gives it away: All Women Do That. The old git says a faithful woman is like the phoenix, i.e. there's only one in the world and even that's a bloody myth. And then the idiots go and bet him their women are different. Cue pretend departure and return with unconvincing false moustaches to woo each other's girl. Bloody hilarious.  

But this bit isn't Mozart, is it?, Lestrade thinks, suddenly sitting up and taking notice. He knows this.  

Christ, this takes him back. Sunday Bloody Sunday: first film he ever saw with a gay love scene in it. Another sodding triangle. Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch and – what was his name, the gorgeous young one who played the artist? – Murray Head. Wonder what happened to him.  

It was part of the soundtrack, the same music that's playing right now, beautiful and sad, three voices together. Never knew what they were singing about. Wishing the boys calm seas and soft winds for their imaginary voyage, apparently. Waste of a good tune.  

He remembers that film so clearly, the excitement of it, seeing the older man and the younger man kissing and embracing. Watched it on television late one night when his parents were out, his heart pounding in case they came back and found him in front of it.  

Of course the poor old bugger of a doctor Finch played was doomed as well as closeted. What happens when you get mixed up with a gorgeous much younger man, Lestrade thinks, feeling a brief twinge about the whole Sherlock thing. Or worse, a gorgeous much younger bisexual man, like in the film. At least that hadn't been a complication with Sherlock. Bloody Watson was bad enough.  

Seeing that film could have gone either way. So to speak. Usual miserable bloody outcome for the gay character so if you paid attention to the plot it could fuck you up quite badly, make you think that's how your life would be. On the other hand, the straight love affair got fucked up too; equal opportunities ahead of its time. And there was a sort of dignity in Finch's character, even at the end, where he's talking straight to camera. Acknowledging that the young man hadn't been what he was looking for all his life, saying “He's not it ... but something. We were something.”  

Somehow, Lestrade hadn't been depressed by the ending; still too excited by the kiss and thinking It's not just me then. Shit, how could he have forgotten that? One of those moments of recognition that changes the whole course of your life.  

It was the Finch character who'd loved opera, of course. First time you hear that music is when he puts the record on, but it keeps coming back all the way through. By the end it's all about loss and the acceptance of loss. Makes sense, really. You can break your heart about being disillusioned, not getting what you'd dreamed of, or you can move on, knowing things you didn't know before, and probably still dreaming even though you know you shouldn't.  

He'd thought of Finch's character as an old man then, though he was only supposed to be in his forties. Read somewhere it was supposed to be Alan Bates, who would have been the right age for it. Round about Lestrade's sort of age, and Maurice's. Lestrade winces a bit, then grins.  

He sneaks a glance at Maurice, sitting rapt and slightly flushed, high on the music. Waits till the trio is over before he puts his hand on Maurice's, not wanting to break the spell for him. Maurice looks at him questioningly, anxiously, in case Lestrade's hating the whole thing. Seems reassured by what he sees. Lestrade leaves his hand where it is. It feels good. Maurice's breathing quickens a little and his colour deepens. All quite promising for when they go back to Lestrade's afterwards.  

Lestrade really had thought this evening might be the end of their nights at the opera. It's not looking that way now.  


references:   John Schlesinger, Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971).  Sadly the clips of this have disappeared from YouTube, but I heartily recommend the film.  And the opera, bits of which (including various recordings of the trio) can be found onYouTube.  

Maurice and Lestrade's next outing is here: Nights at the Opera (3) 



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, fantastic! I was thinking when I mentioned it that if the trio didn't turn Lestrade on he ain't got any switches, but I'd completely forgotten they used it in Sunday Bloody Sunday. That's just perfect, and a beautiful way to distract him from the preposterousness of Cosi's plot.
Oct. 28th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
I was very pleased when I thought of that! I'd wondered about using Così, but wasn't sure it would work till you suggested the edgy-shoestring production as an intermediate stage in Lestrade's education.

...agreeing with your assessment of the trio in any case. have loved it ever since I first heard it (which was indeed in Sunday Bloody Sunday).
Oct. 28th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
This was great! I've never come across Sunday Bloody Sunday before (clearly my education has been slightly lacking!)but shall now def have to find time to watch it.

“Well, the chorus is hardly in it,” Maurice said, considering. “One short burst of saying military life is wonderful and then the same thing again a few minutes later. Having been in the chorus for a production of Cosi I recognised it from this description instantly! Very boring chorus part, very silly plot, but gorgeous music!
Oct. 28th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! yes, you should definitely watch that.

agreeing with you about Cosi though I have never been in it (and did indeed once go to a production where they adopted the solution Maurice mentions...).
Oct. 28th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Mmm, this is so good. I'm as surprised as Lestrade that opera isn't so boring after all. :D I love the way you capture Lestrade's/Graves's way of stressing certain words in his speech. And the characterisations, especially the things that Lestrade is discovering about himself, are so deftly done.

Oct. 28th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! I'm delighted you enjoyed it, and particularly with what you say about speech and character. *beams*

there will be another one at least, since Lestrade has not yet gone all the way with opera...
Nov. 1st, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Incredible! I love the way you weave all these references in.

And - God, I need to say more but I have to let this settle for longer first (like singers' voices, like Guinness). The way you reveal Lestrade through the way he relates to these operas is just... I have no superlatives high enough.

Edited at 2010-11-01 05:04 pm (UTC)
Nov. 2nd, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
*blushes and squeaks*

thank you very much!

sometimes the fics seem to be more about the opera and sometimes more about him, but I enjoy both kinds.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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