I just had the most marvelous phone call from soprano Mary Costa, about whom I blogged recently after discovering she had made her Chicago area debut at Ravinia the year after the release of Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty, for which she provided the voice and figure model for the title character. After posting that blog, I Googled her and wrote to her in her native Knoxville, TN, where she had helped launch the Knoxville Opera in 1978 and starred in its inaugural production, Verdi’s La Traviata (the same role in which she had made a triumphant 1964 Metropolitan Opera debut). I was requesting a photo I’d like to frame along with a lovely thank-you note she had written to me for some archival research I did for her while I worked for San Francisco Opera many years ago. I had hoped merely that someone, perhaps a secretary, would send me a photo; instead, she called me direct at Ravinia, and we spent a delightful quarter-hour discussing everything from current styles of opera production and the future of opera to recent movies and my own harpsichord studies. Her interest in me was genuine and touching, and left me feeling positively ebullient for the rest of the day. How wonderful to be able to tell my friends: I just talked with Princess Aurora!
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