#TheStories, part 15Editorial
I was doing a show where a tenor played my romantic opposite on stage. This is a very sexually charged role and show, but not one that I was a stranger to - having performed it already with a bunch of tenors who were lovely, and very professionally behaved colleagues.
The production itself was okay, the tenor in question was about 15 years older than me (and in the twilight of his career it seemed) but he had done this role before and knew the ropes. I had worked with him before when I was a younger singer, doing comprimario roles, and he had not once noticed me or spoke to me. But now that I was his leading lady (and still pretty young) it was different.
He drove me home and proceeded to sob for the two and a half hour car ride, telling me how sorry he was, and asking for me to forgive him.
During the production our director and the company General Director would joke that he was a “wildcard” on stage and during rehearsal (meaning unpredictable with combat and blocking), and would often goof off and make jokes and faces at people. Early on in the process, I told him to his face that that wasn’t gonna fly with me, and I needed him to shape up and work as a professional.
He responded to it, shockingly, by apologizing and suddenly taking a fierce “platonic” liking to me. He would ask me several times if I wanted to get a beer after rehearsal - to which I rarely responded. Finally, during our tech week I agreed. We hung out like friends, it was fine, even fun?
Gradually he started sharing more and more, more about his marriage, his lack of sex life, and how he wasn’t totally convinced of my sexuality (I’m queer, but I tell all men I’m gay so they leave me alone). One such comment was “you’re way too sexy and alluring to men to be a lesbian.” (Should have been a red flag.)
I tried politely making excuses as to why I couldn’t go, but then he asked my pianist to join him and so… I had to.
The production ended and I figured I’d not really talk much with him, but he would text me and call me… everyday. Every. Day. He was always claiming that he was talking about me to “higher ups at local companies” or that he wanted to take me to Europe on a recital tour. (May I remind you, this man is married with two children.) I responded less and less, and he badgered more and more.
I was due to go back to the town in which we performed together to do a recital and he got me a grand piano for the space and held a “reception” for me and my pianist at his home afterwards. I tried politely making excuses as to why I couldn’t go, but then he asked my pianist (who was also my ride home) to join him and so… I had to.
The evening went fine, the concert was great, his wife and kids were there so I relaxed, and yet every time I looked away from my wine glass he had filled it. He kept feeding me, saying I was too skinny. He kept texting me under the table asking me to stay the night. “Stay the night, dyke,” he said.
His wife doesn’t know, and I’m living with the hidden pain of this every day.
I laughed it off, but the evening got away and I ended up getting really sick. I threw up, was generally a mess and my pianist headed home. His poor wife cleaned me up, helped me change and put me to bed in their spare bedroom. I drifted off, and at some point, I saw a dark figure come into the room, with two more full glasses of wine… and the next thing I knew I was fully naked, and I didn’t know where I was. I eventually just went along and didn’t fight it, I was completely incapacitated and drunk, mostly asleep and hours away from home with no available help.
The next morning I woke up early, cried, took a shower and pretended to go back to sleep. I spent the morning with his wife and kids, saving face, playing Uno, and laughing. He drove me home and proceeded to sob for the two and a half hour car ride, telling me how sorry he was, and asking for me to forgive him. I stayed stoney and silent.
It remains to be one of the most horrific nights of my life, and I’ve been suffering ever since because of it. I told the opera company we had worked for, and they fired him from the next show… but life (on the outside) went on pretty much as it normally did. His wife doesn’t know, and I’m living with the hidden pain of this every day.