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Alia Year 3 - Singing

Posted on Fri Nov 20th, 2020 @ 1:33am by Lieutenant JG Alia Fitzgerald

Alia Year 3 - Singing
[[I make several assumptions here though I believe ones based on what we've seen in the series(es). Though simulated experiences are easy (I'm quite sure they had holo-shows/recordings long before they had interactive holodecks.) REAL performances are still of keen interest. Especially on TNG, we've seen quite a few live music/stage things both for entertainment of the audience and to enrich the lives of the performers.
Also, ST's Federation is explicitly a 'post physical need' society. I imagine that, lacking the monetary incentive to perform, people would still do so for the recognition/artistic impulse/fun of it all. Entertainers would likely to find venues made available as they traveled though, of course, those who plan well ahead (and are of higher quality) would have more interest, larger audiences and so on. So the manager for a large hall would schedule in a well-liked troupe most likely before a newcomer without an extensive following.
The manager makes these decision because his/her recognition and status are based on how good a job s/he does in providing good entertainment. So rather than money driving the situation, it's a more nebulous 'attention' or 'approval' serving the same purpose and giving much the same results: Entertainers travel around, honing their skills, while venue operators act as support but also gatekeepers to keep the quality level high.
This doesn't just apply to those in the entertainment industry. The shift from a needs-based to a recognition-based society has a profound impact. But that is a much broader discussion and I'm still working out my own thoughts on it!]]

Alia ran across campus, her red locks bouncing behind her. Years ago, she had been too uncomfortable to ride in the transports; the press of that many strangers frightened her and she escaped the need by walking everywhere. Eventually the walking turned to jogging and then to running.

These days, she flew.

Her feet barely seemed to touch the ground and the air moved out of her way as she slipped between its molecules, unhindered in her travels. For the girl who had grown up in a compound of less than 100 square meters, this freedom had been a revelation. No matter her mood, as long as she could run like this, she was transported emotionally.

Her friend, Tavay, was waiting for her at the tube station. Despite the advantages of technology, she had beaten Alia by barely two minutes. “So the mighty Atalanta brought low by a simple transport tube. I guess I get to keep the golden apples for myself, yum yum!”

Alia held out her hand, barely breathing hard, “Share or face my wrath.”

“Oooh, I'm cowering in fear,” but she handed over the denebian fruit with a smile. It didn't taste much like an apple, despite its appearance, but the flesh was intensely sweet.

“How does your uncle get these, anyway? I mean, the Prime Directive still holds there.”

“Well... he's monitoring the population's withdrawal from that drug... and he's on an uninhabited island. The vines these grow on are all over the place so he brings back a batch every so often.” She bit into her own and licked her fingers rather than letting a single drop escape.

“Make sure to thank him for me.” She ate with an almost prissy neatness, wasting nothing, a habit from childhood she felt no need to change.

“Mmmmm... I will. And maybe he'll give me a few more when I do!”

“You, you are shameless, you know?”

“And proud of it! So what do you have planned for today?”

“I'm done studying for the day. Maybe take in a show downtown? I think there are some live performances today.”

Tavay feigned disbelief. “What, the noted study fiend and all-around bookaholic is seeking entertainment? Besides don't you have the 'How to be Human' finals coming up?”

“Idiot.” Alia sniffed. “Besides, as you well know, I passed that class ages ago.”

She giggled and Alia had to laugh with her. “Okay, I believe you, let's go see what's playing.”

There was an acrobat troupe just clearing out of the arena to the general applause of the audience. A band of musicians were taking their place and various wall panels changed to match their program. Every other panel showed one of the performers and the rest were of crashing waves, waterfalls, rain and other forms of water in motion.

Alia, no longer a tyro when it came to bodies of water, found the images chosen intriguing. “I wonder why they picked those graphics? Something to do with the music they will play?”

“Probably. Hey, that one on the far right, she kind of looks like you but a bit older.”

She looked where her friend indicated and her eyes opened wide. “I know her!”

“What, really?”

“She's my, well, my grand-niece. Kind of. Eileen Jacobs.”

Tavay knew about her friend's background and put it together easily. “So your clone-mother's sister's granddaughter? She must be good, this group is really popular.”

“I suppose so, I've always liked it when she played for me. She's the one that taught me guitar.”

“Did she teach you how to sing, too?”

Alia shook her head, “No, my sisters and I would sing a lot to pass the time and entertain each other. I was mostly a mezzo-soprano before I met Eileen but she helped me broaden my range to a fair contralto and an acceptable soprano.”

“After the show, introduce me. I've never met a celebrity before.”

“If she has time... they might be too busy.”

“Speaking of which, they're starting, I think.”

The show itself was indescribable. It had to be experienced because no recording could do it justice. True to the water theme, the music flowed, it crashed, it moved in waves and dropped gently upon the audience. It flooded the room and, at the end, trickled slowly away leaving them satisfied yet thirsty for more. After a single moment of silence, the spectators burst into raucous applause that went on and on like an impromptu encore of thunder to echo the storm that had just passed.

Alia sent Eileen a quick message and was surprised at how fast the reply came. “ALIA! Come to the backstage right now! Bring your friend!”

She shrugged, “You heard her, let's go!”

The door to the backstage (and more importantly, the serious-looking man behind the door) let them through without a problem. They found her changing out of her performance clothing and stepping into a shower. “Grab a chair, I'll be out in a minute!”

The two managed to dig out a spot to sit amongst the mostly-uncontrolled chaos that surrounded the musician. The room was covered in clothes, instruments, and half-completed songs written on old-style paper sheets. It was as if they were getting a private look directly into her mind and it was a very interesting place to visit but a bit cluttered to live in.

Almost true to her word, she hopped out of the shower 90 seconds later and toweled herself mostly dry and then wrapped the towel around her hair and head. “Ah, that's better! So, how did you like the show? Good, huh? I especially like the fifth act where it's all bass and promises and then the flood comes through... crash!”

Tavay nodded, “It was awesome! Will you be in town long? I'd love to come again and bring some more friends.” She was trying to avoid looking at the nude musician and having a hard time of it.

Eileen shrugged, causing her breasts to bounce distractingly. “Who knows? We get offers, we have whims, we didn't even know we were coming to Earth until about three days ago.” She looked at the older student, “Something wrong?”

Alia, who was entirely untroubled by the lack of attire said mildly, “I think she's not used to casual nudity.”

“Oh! Oh that.” She shrugged into a robe that was sheer enough she almost still counted as being naked. “There, there we go. So great-aunt, have you been practicing what I taught you? It'd be a shame if you let it all go to waste.”

“Not so much on the guitar, great-niece, but I do sing with my friends and I think I do acceptably well.”

Tavay interjected, “Don't let her be modest, she does great.”

Eileen nodded, “And how's your wind? That was your biggest problem a few years ago.”

“I've taken up running so that's not a problem, I think.”

“Show me.” The musician sat back in a chair still covered by enough costumes that it was hard to tell if there was actual furniture beneath and closed her eyes.

Alia started with her scales from mid-contralto up to higher soprano, sticking to the ranges that she was confident in. She moved from there to a piece of Carmen she particularly liked and suited her well. After a few minutes, she let it trail off.

“Oh, delightful!” Eileen clapped her hands in excitement. “Your tessitura is much broader than I thought. My my my my my.” She seemed lost in thought, “I don't suppose you have any free time over the next few weeks? I could use a good coloratura for something I'm writing now.”

Alia was about to demur when Tavay said, “She has plenty of time in the evenings and we have break coming in just a little bit. We get a week off then, right?”

“It seems I do have free time. I'd be glad to help.” She gave her friend a look who ignored it.

“Good, good. Heavy rehearsals begin this weekend, but I want you to take some materials with you.” She gave Alia a stack of music. “This is the stuff that's done and mostly done. Don't worry, I have it all up here.” She tapped her head and Alia had a sudden vision of a spray of sheet music pouring from her forehead, Athena-like. “I don't promise it won't change between now and the premier, do your best!” Eileen shooed the two out of the rooms, “I have to compose right now, this is so exciting!”

Standing out in the hall, Alia gave Tavay a sour look. “You know, maybe I had plans for my break?”

She waved those objections off, “Nonsense. You probably would have just spent the time studying some dusty journal, running around, dicing vegetables or all three. How many times do you get a chance to perform with a musical troupe? Hardly ever, right? Right.”

So for the rest of the week, Alia did indeed 'run around', finishing up her last minute classwork before break. All the while she practiced the music her relative had given her. She sang in her room as she made dinner, she sang while studying in quad and most of all she sang as she ran from place to place until it became quite the adventure for her fellow students to try to hear the entirety of the songs that they only caught snippets of as she breezed past. A few bolder souls tried to keep up with her but none could match both her speed and stamina so they ended up as frustrated as the rest.

All tasks completed, she made her way back to the auditorium. Various troupe members nodded companionably as she arrived since she was, apparently, already one of them. Eileen was in the back and her rooms were even more cluttered than before. She was staring into the distance at things only she could see and jotting notes from time to time. Only after Alia cleared her throat (twice) and called out her name (three times) did the musician finally notice her. “Oh! Oh there you are! Come come come come. I've made some minor modifications to act II, moved most of act III to later on and rewrote IV completely. Oh, everything else is totally different, too. No time, here's your part, go to it!” Alia found herself back in the hallway with another disheveled stack of papers.

The piece had indeed changed... the mezzo part had been emphasized. It was a dark and glorious character, full of wit and schemes. Not quite a villain but certainly no saint, she was easily the most interesting part of the new music. She was singing the changed parts softly to herself on one side of the stage when she felt a presence behind her.

A pretty woman was standing there, her hands on her hips. “Ah, the new 'Teldra' finally graces us with her presence.” She had a light, sweet voice, definitely a soprano.

Alia cocked her head to one side, “You are playing Sophia?”

“Good guess.” She sat down next to the girl. “I should thank you, I suppose. I have a lot less work to do with the new arrangements.”

“Sorry about that. I had no idea she would change things up so much. Or that she would call on me at all.”

“We have to get used to that around here. She'll modify right until opening night... or even during a performance!” She leaned back and sighed. “And I was so looking forward to singing a more fun part. Sopranos always get the good-girl roles.”

“Sorry.”

“And stop apologizing! Just do it right or I'll have to hate you.” She looked over the papers and sang some of Teldra's lines.

As Alia had suspected, the woman had a lovely voice, and she joined her making it a duet. Their voices synchronized rather than harmonized as they were singing the same part but the differences, such as they were added a fun depth. Finally, the woman stopped with a light laugh. “Ha ha ha! I can't force myself down to mezzo seriously for long. You kept pushing for more timbre and I just ran out.”

“I thought you were doing just fine.”

“Oh, don't pity me. I know sopranos get the best roles but you guys get the most interesting ones. That's why we cheer for the heroes but enjoy watching the villains after all.” She shifted to one of her own pieces and Alia, sensing the challenge, moved to match her. The cadet did very well in the lower and middle but lost to the other woman in the upper ranges, reversing the experience from before.

“Okay, okay, I give up!”

'Sophia' smiled, “The point is, we all have our parts and with all the changes, we are counting on you. We have to count on you. Please take this seriously because we aren't cadets or just passing time until we fly off on a starship somewhere. This is important.”

“You trust her, Eileen, a lot don't you?”

“We do... and she has earned that trust.” The singer looked at Alia through the corners of her eyes, not facing her directly.

“I got it. You can count on me.”

* * *

Eileen was stomping around as if she crushing her problems underheel. “No no no! I can hear that your voice can do this. I know it can Alia! Teldra is a schemer, a seductress... she exudes passion as she goes from lover to lover. Argh!”

“I'm sorry, I don't know what else to do.” Alia looked miserable and the rest of the cast were either looking as frustrated as Eileen or were carefully not looking frustrated. In some ways, that was even worse.

The director took a deep breath, held it for a beat and then exhaled. “Okay, everyone take ten and then back to rehearsal.” She looked toward Heather (the real name of 'Sophia'), “You are familiar with Teldra's part?”

The singer just nodded, not saying anything.

“Good.”

After the rest had cleared out, Eileen took Alia's hands. “I know you can do this, but I know it was unfair of me to push an amateur into a professional role. If it comes to that, I have to do the best thing for troupe, do you understand?”

Alia nodded, not realizing how similar it was to Heather's acquiescence.

“You need to reach down and find that passion. I want you to practice outside of here. Do something different but record what you're doing and send it to me. No, better than that, I'll just leave my communicator on for the next 24 hours.” She didn't have to say that the performance was the day after that, they both knew it far too well.

The ride back to the campus didn't bother her as it usually did, so lost was she in a funk. She just stared out the window, not noticing the scenery as it flashed by, far too fast to appreciate at any rate. When she ran, it was like watching the seasons change, both slow and fast but with a pleasing progression. Transports felt like flipping through a book without ever getting to read any of the pages or look at the pictures.

Once back, she went to her room and tried one of her parts out again and listened to the recording afterward. Even a novice such as herself could sense what Eileen was saying. The notes and words were all there, but not the passion that would give them meaning.

Following the director's advice, she tried going to a holodeck and practicing there in a simulation of a concert hall, but it felt just like the building with the rest of the troupe so she abandoned that fairly quickly. She stood near one of the fountains that was a popular gathering spot and tried to imagine her character, what she wanted, what she desired and ran through her longest piece with her eyes closed. She was startled by a smattering of applause around her and looked around to see half a dozen fellow cadets and a couple of teachers had been listening to her.

One of them said, “Finally! I've been trying to hear all of that piece for a week now!” He shook his head, “You are too fast, girl.”

A cadet standing next to him laughed, “Don't you mean you are too slow to keep up?” She turned to Alia, “So this is the new stuff that Jacobs is doing, right? Are you going to be in that show?” The earnest look in the cadet's face and her innocent question was more than Alia could take and she took off a dead sprint.

Rather than her usual effortless effort, she ran pell-mell across the campus, lungs burning. She had never failed like this before, not when someone was counting on her for something important. “I have to make it work. I will make it...” Her own voice sounded hollow to her own ears: she knew she was running away from failure and not toward anything.

Unexpectedly, the rhythm of motion worked a kind of magic on her. Long practice caused good habits to assert themselves; her breathing evened and steadied and that, in turn, eventually caused her to calm down. She continued to run, not wanting to lose the peace she had just regained. The abundant greenery and familiar architecture of the campus soothed her as it flew by.

“What’s the worst that could happen, after all? Heather knows the part and has a fine voice.” Alia started to sing again, thinking about Teldra… in a way she was going from person to person, relationship to relationship. A schemer, yes, but maybe she was also running from something. Perhaps a touch of desperation motivated her… looking for love but not sure how to do it properly? For the first time, Alia felt a bit of sympathy for the ‘bad girl’ and what she was going through.

Her communicator sprang to life abruptly and Eileen’s voice came through. “That’s it! What are you doing? Is that wind? Never mind, get back here right now!”

Upon her return, Eileen took her through her parts again. “Yes, yes we can use this.” She raised her voice, “Okay, we’re going to do Teldra’s scenes one after another, chop chop! Full dress tomorrow. Let’s warp people!”

The rehearsal, though not without flaws, went so much better than previous that everyone’s spirits were lifted and the dress rehearsal the next night was better still. That evening, tired (exhausted, more precisely) but feeling much better, Alia made her way to her dorm where Tavay was waiting. “So, how’d it go?”

Alia oofed as she collapsed on her bed. “It went okay. I mean, really okay. I think this will work.” She dug in her pocked and pulled out a handful of tickets. “Here’s some passes for the show.” She hadn't distributed them before now because of the fear that she wouldn't even be in the performance.

“What am I supposed to do with a dozen of them?”

“Keep one and give away the rest,” she mumbled. Alia burrowed into her covers, still fully clothed, barely taking the time to kick off her shoes.

“Like who? C'mon, give me a hint, here.”

“Whoever you think best. Just let me sleep!” She was unconscious before Tavay could ask another question.

...Eileen Jacob's troupe (The Rowdy Crowd) continues to innovate and impress. Coming immediately after a successful musical tour, they presented a half-musical/half-opera showcasing newcomer Alia Fitzgerald... ...adding to the ambiance was the use of five separate stages placed around the room while Teldra wove her webs of intrigue between all of them. Instead of set changes, Fitzgerald simply ran between the locations, all while continuing her performance, thereby causing the audience to constantly change its perspective to keep pace... ...certainly look forward to whatever the Crowd has in store for us next!

Alia took her bows with the other performers, feeling the rush of a performer accepting applause for the first time. Then she saw, a group of a cadets surrounding Tavay, clapping and cheering along with the crowd. She recognized them as the cadets that tried to keep pace with her to hear all of the music she was singing. They took another group bow and Heather whispered to her. “Those cadets... fans of yours?”

Not sure how to answer it, Alia responded. “I guess, you could call them my 'followers'!”


 

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