Once again I'm ranting. A girl with whom I'm only marginally acquainted had a family emergency and had to leave to return home several states away. She was to provide piano accompaniment for a senior voice recital tomorrow. The dress rehearsal was this evening.
I was called about fifteen minutes before the dress rehearsal and asked if I could fill in. I had things I would have preferred to be doing, but I took one for the team and said I would play for the recital. I walked into the designated recital hall ten minutes before the rehearsal was scheduled to begin, which was early considering I didn't learn of my involvement in the even until twelve minutes before that time. The soloist, a wannabe soprano diva, possesses the body (Junoesque/Rubenesque to some degree) and attitude (full of herself) fitting for a diva, but , I would learn a few minutes later, is sorely lacking in talent, She didn't approach me when I took my place at the piano bench. I refused to approach her to introduce myself since I was the one doing her a favor.
After a few minutes, she walked up to the piano with the music, which she plunked onto the piano music rack. "I hope you've had time to go over all of this," she commented.
"I don't know when I would have done that," I responded, "since I'm seeing the music for the very first time right now. " I could have added that I'm good and don't need to see most music in advance but A) I don't usually blow my own horn in person (I reserve this blog for such purposes), and B) I didn't necessarily wish to say or do anything that would put her mind at ease.
She let out a sort of sigh, blowing air upward by extending her lower lip. Then she glared at me.
Then she said, "I hope they told you this, but I don't customarily pay my accompanists. It's considered a privilege for an pianist to accompany me."
I was quicker in response than I usually am, feigning an expression of concern. "That could be a bit of a problem," I told her. "I typically charge twice the customary fee for anyone I accompany, because it's considered a privilege for any soloist to be accompanied by me." I smiled sweetly, or as sweetly as I can under such circumstances. That, I admit, is a major stretch of the truth, but I am the recipient of this year's outstanding pianist and outstanding violinist awards. I don't know who this quasi-diva thinks she is, but I'm not stepping in at the last minute for her and then providing my services gratis.
The diva acted briefly as though she might faint. Friends stood around her and fanned her. An adviser went over to confer with her and with her entourage. Her friend came back to say that they could come up with the customary fee of three hundred dollars but that they were unwilling to double it. I said I'd think about it, and encouraged the friend to get the rehearsal started since I didn't have all night.
I don't wish to be boastful, as the accompaniment wasn't all that difficult, but I nailed it. Then, at the conclusion of the rehearsal, I said, "So which is it? Do you want my services on my terms, or would you rather try to find another replacement at this late date?" She conferred again with her adviser and came up with a counter offer of five hundred dollars. I pretended to mull the offer, then agreed to take the job. I never ask for more than the customary fee of three hundred. Sometimes I even play free of charge. It's just that I appreciated neither the implication that she was in possession of more talent than evidence would support nor the overall lack of appreciation of my coming to her rescue at the last minute.. My mother said I was being the diva. She would have needed to have seen the situation in person in order to understand.
So I'll give up two hours of my evening tomorrow and will be five hundred dollars richer. I stipulated that the compensation needed to be in the form of cash (nothing smaller than twenties, as I could see the bitch handing me five hundreds ones) and handed to me in an envelope before the concert began. I'm not usually such a bitch, but this musician of limited-at-best talent brought the quality out in me in droves.