Afternoon at the opera, or an introduction to Renée Fleming

Says Ann Patchett in Bel Canto: "There was nothing more to want than the privilege to sit and listen."

Says Trix on Renée Fleming at Symphony Center: Ah, Trixie’s hands are tired from so much clapping at encore after encore, and her eyes are tired from so much squinting from so great a height, and her feet are tired from so much standing in the autograph line, but her heart is filled with beautiful singing.

What a remarkable gift, to be able to take simple notes and bend them into something so extraordinary, to make them into magic, to lift them up, high, and higher, until they weave around the beams and rafters and into the ears of every last person sitting in that cavernous hall, the audience drawing a collective breath and holding it until a single voice shouts Brava! and then applause, applause! The gift of human joy.

There is no greater motivation to start moving than watching a true artist perform. No finer an example than someone who tends to and respects their craft and shares it with others, who is brave enough to hold out a hand and say, Here. This is the best I have to give. Listen, or not. Like it, or not. Take from it what you will.