You were going to be in “Kismet,” playing Lalume, at the DiCapo Opera Children’s Chorus on the Upper East Side. You went to rehearsals for months, several times a week, on nights and weekends. I had no idea how rehearsals were going because you never wanted to tell me.
What I did know was how hard you practiced your songs at home, and how good you sounded, how strong and beautiful. You would practice in your room, in our bedroom, in our living room, wherever you could find a space to practice, just as always.
And then came the night of the show itself, all those months finally coming down to the opening. The theater was packed, maybe 200-strong in the audience, on this Saturday night, aficionados of light opera from the neighborhood, family members and friends.
And the lights went down and right away we were all transported to the Arabia of yesteryear. Everything was lovely – the sets, the costumes, the songs.
And then came the best moment of all. You came out to sing your solo about Bagdad.
Now, I’d heard you practice the song for months at home, heard you stop to repeat a line, to refine it and rephrase it, holding your arms out as your voice soared.
But this was different. You were no longer practicing at home. Now you were performing for real, on a real stage, in a real theater, in a real production, with a real opera company. The audience had paid for tickets, even dressed up for the occasion.
And there I sat, too, with Mom and Michael, as you took your spot and sang your big number. You sang about Bagdad being gaudy and bawdy, sounding gutsy. It was a tribute to the city and all its life, and it painted a portrait of a time and a place in history. You looked so beautiful, and sounded so beautiful, all your practice now playing out as perfection. You hit every note just right, your heart in every syllable, telling the story you had to tell about romance and intrigue.
And then you came to the end and those last notes. Your voice took flight and swooped higher and higher, climbing and climbing from the unlikely to the improbable to the almost-impossible. I’d heard you practice that finish a hundred times, maybe 500 times, but never here, never at this moment, never in front of an audience. You swept me away. My eyes filled with tears. My jaw must have dropped, too. I felt such astonishment at you – at your talent, your poise, your dedication.
But most of all I felt proud. That was my daughter up there singing her heart out so spectacularly, my girl, my baby.
And all I wanted for you at that moment was for you to feel proud, too, proud of yourself. Always you should feel proud. You certainly have every reason to be.