Hmm - whoops! I used "bella donna" in my last post when I meant "prima donna", of course. My mistake.
***WARNING: The following is long. My apologies.***
Stakes? Let's see ... well, what if the play is about vampires (sorry!)
Or more seriously ... at stake could be a lucrative contract to perform with the Met (i.e. the Metropolitan Orchestra of New York) for a season. The contract then extends for a year, two years etc. if the soloist is any good. Big names like Enrico Caruso, Dame Nellie Melba, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf etc. all did this. Obviously there are more singers than there are roles, so competition is very fierce.
Luckily (or unluckily?) for me, I'm a chorister, not a soloist. There are major differences, among them blend (blending the voices together to sound as one), breath (where and how to take a breath without ruining the sound), intonation (getting the various choristers to sound good together), etc. Soloists don't have to worry about blend, but have to pay lots of attention to breath, intonation, and focus. Soloists can also use more vibrato (to add expression) than the average chorister; some soloists can get away with it, and some pieces even demand it, but if one chorister out of 100 sings vibrato and the others don't, then it just sounds silly.
The problem with soloists singing vibrato happens when they do it gratuitously, which we've seen in recent years on TV shows like "Australia's Got Talent" and the like. (Most of these people, sad to say, have no talent at all. They just sing loudly, off-key, and with far too much vibrato - and the audience just laps it up, because "they're so brave!" etc. I guess you can never go wrong with appealing to the lowest common denominator).
So how to turn all this into a story? Hmm. Here's a scenario:
A soloist for the MSO is retiring soon, and the MSO advertises (on their own website) to find a replacement. Two people see it and decide to apply: one is a long-term soloist with a classical company like the RMP (Royal Melbourne Philharmonic), and the other is a recent winner of "Australia's Got Talent".
She already has a lucrative contract with AGT, but now she wants one with the MSO.
Why? Because in her opinion, with her media fame and experience at singing rock music, she will be a shoe-in to become a world-famous classical soloist.
Prestige! More money! Etc.
She is received politely, but rejected, and told to go and study music for a few years. (A line for the music director: "Yes - perhaps - if she studies for a few years, she will be a very bad singer".
No snobbery here: most people's voices are either suited to classical music or rock music. There's very little cross-over. I've done both, as part of the RMP, and it's very difficult to do both well).
So, what next? At stake is this lady's opinion of herself, as well as (another) lucrative contract. Does she accept that her voice is unsuited to classical singing, resolves to work hard, etc. etc.? Or does she resolve to - deep breath time here - TAKE REVENGE on the STUPID IDIOTS who COULDN'T SEE HER TALENT??? (Insert a few mwa-ha-has, lightning and thunder, etc.)
Of course she'll do the latter. How? By taking to social media and besmirching the name of the MSO, the name of the pianist who accompanied her, the names of the conductor and musical director, etc. She'll show them all! Moo-ha-ha-ha!
For a few days, all goes amazingly well. Her followers on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram etc. are on her side. Not surprisingly, though, she's burned her bridges with the classical music community. What do they do? Engaging her on social media is unhelpful, to say the least. Releasing a press statement likewise, because it's liable to be misinterpreted. One Committee member (the newbie, perhaps?) suggests: "Why not invite a journalist who wishes to interview us, and set the record straight? I'm sure that when people of goodwill get 'round a table..." and so on.
The other committee members exchange glances, stop themselves from rolling their eyes, and explain to the naive newbie the facts of life. You can't trust journalists. Interviews, like press statements, are a double-edged sword. It all depends on the interviewer is: he absolutely must be impartial. Not "impartial" as in between the fireman and the fire, obviously, but impartial as in being able to see their point of view.
"I see," Newbie says, "So when you say impartial, you mean partial."
Long story short, the Committee decides - in the interests of resolving this manufactured dispute - to invite Miss Big-Head back for an audition, and also to invite in the press. When they see that she can't actually sing, surely ... etc.
Newbie: "But what if she can sing?"
Conductor: "Nonsense. If she could sing, she wouldn't create all this fuss and bother."
Newbie: "Then may I suggest one further improvement?"
Conductor: "Certainly, as long as it is sensible."
Newbie: "Very well. Why not broadcast her audition, live, on YouTube - and advertise it beforehand on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram etc.? Something like: to all her followers - a special event! See your beloved star sing! And so on."
Conductor: "Newbie, that is a--" *hesitates for a second* "--stroke of genius."
Newbie: "Could it be arranged?"
Conductor: "It will be expensive. But perhaps we can arrange for someone else to foot the bill."
The plan works. The newspapers, anticipating either a great triumph or a lamentable disaster, divide the bill between them. Miss Big-Head botches her audition completely and flounces out, vowing never to try it again. Miss Big-Head's online followers ditch her, after seeing how immature she is. The classical singer receives the contract. And everyone is happy!
How does that sound?