When I was a freshman in college I, along with a few other students, had lunch with Jessye Norman at the University of Michigan, her alma mater. At the luncheon she mentioned that if I were ever in New York to look her up. The next year my little budding artistic friend and I were treated to an extended weekend to NYC by her mother, Karen DiChiera, an educator and composer, who is a founding member of the Michigan Opera Theater.
Cristina's dad, David DiChiera, is the founding general director of the Michigan Opera Theater. He also simultaneously served as artistic director of Dayton Opera in Ohio and Opera Pacific in California. David is a renowned composer whose recent opera, Cyrano, has received international acclaim. If you are looking for a worthy artistic institution to give a tax-deductible donation, the Michigan Opera Theatre would be a great place. Not only do they present great opera and dance performances, they are dedicated to community programs. Since my adolescence, the DiChieras have mentored me. Do click on the link above to donate. But I digress for that important announcement.
Cristina and I were so excited to go to NYC. I had already visited more than a few times. But NYC is always a great place to visit and I was just as excited. We would stay near Lincoln Center and go to the opera, theater, symphony and museums. We were given extra money to catch cabs around the city. Karen made me promise that we would not ride the subway. Since I was the oldest (Cristina was only 14 and I was 19), I solemnly made the promise. Karen was relieved as she dropped us off at the airport. But it wasn't to be.
This week Cristina emailed me and reminded me of our trip:
So funny, I was telling Neal (her husband) about you last night and I told him about the trip to New York! How my mom gave us money to take cabs so we wouldn't go on the scary subway - and this was the late 80s so the subway was a little scary - and we took the subway and treated ourselves to a nice dinner instead! Meeting Jessye Norman who I thought would be impressed by my dad's name but who was more impressed by you.From the moment I met Jessye Norman my freshman year she has inspired me. In fact, she was an inspiration well before then. At the luncheon I asked her how many languages she spoke. She replied, "there are few languages that I don't speak with the exception of Hebrew." She is not only a great singer but brilliant linguist and interpreter of lyrics. She is also such the diva; be sure to listen until the end.