The Park Theatre was housed in a modern yet modest building crammed in between a bank and a bistro in the main street of Salting by Sea.
Despite its size it managed to attract more than its fair share of travelling productions. Plays, concerts and recitals featured week and in week out, and although its seats were rarely filled it did have a loyal and appreciative audience.
It was the second Saturday in June and every seat in the theatre had been sold. In fact there had been something of a rush on the tickets. After all, it was not every week that Salting by Sea played host to a visiting opera company from Prague. For one night only Bizet’s opera Carmen was to be performed to an eager and excited capacity crowd.
The burble of voices was suddenly hushed as the orchestra filed in and took their seats, followed by their conductor who turned to the audience and beamed as the auditorium was filled with the sound of applause. After the playing of the overture, the velvet curtains swept back and the scene was set for an evening of music and song.
In the basement of the bank next door, three men crouched beside metal door which stood between them and a safe. They had planned this evening several weeks ago, and so far their plan had come together like clockwork. Gaining entry had been simpler than expected, partly due to the help of a bank employee who had come on board with the promise of a healthy reward and anonymity
The audience was spellbound as one by one their favourite choruses and arias played out before them. In what seemed no time at all the first half came to an end and the audience roared and clapped as the music died down.
It was time to make their first move. The applause from the crowd in the theatre drowned the dull thud of the explosion, and the door flew backwards off its hinges. Another part of operation was completed and now they had to patiently wait amongst the rubble and the dust for a while longer.
An hour or so later the opera was reaching its climax. The audience held its breath as the voice of the soloist climbed higher and higher....
In the bank vault one of the men held a drill, its bit positioned in the lock of the safe. They listened as the soprano sang, and at the precise moment she reached her highest note, they pressed the drill into action, its high pitched screech indiscernible to the outside world.
The evening had been a triumph. The audience spilt out onto the street, the music still ringing in its ears. The men from the bank made a discreet exit and melted away into the darkness.
To hear Habanera from Carmen click on arrow.