Sophie and her dressing room friend, F., wiled away their time between scenes making the most elaborate paper flower ever from the paper flower kit I bought to pass opera downtime. It was truly a work of art: multiple petals, covered with insect stickers and with a message reading "To Thomas Hampson / From Sophie and F." I stuck my head into the dressing room to check on Sophie before the children's first scene, and one of dressers grabbed Sophie by the hand and said "Come on, Mom!" We were off, upstairs via an elevator we had been told not to use, to Thomas Hampson's dressing room, which is located right off the stage entrance. Sophie's dresser conferred with Hampson's dresser, who when he is not dressing Hampson is stationed on a chair in the hall outside the dressing room, and was advised that Hampson was resting between scenes but that it was alright to knock on his door. She knocked, once, twice, and Hampson opened the door. He absolutely could not have been more lovely or gracious. Sophie handed him the flower and said "We made this for you." He reached down and kissed her on the cheek, thanked her, and said he would put it in a special place on his desk. Anyone who knows Sophie knows she is rarely at a loss for words, but this stopped her in her tracks: She was for once completely speechless. Hampson chatted with her for a few moments, noting what a great job the children were doing, and then her dresser and I thanked him as well and hustled her off. Sophie was dumbstuck, and I was struggling just to keep my feet beneath me. People asked later whether I got a picture. I had my camera with me, but it just didn't seem appropriate to take a picture. It was truly enough that he answered the door and was as gracious as he was; I didn't want to push the envelope by shoving a camera in his face. But even without a picture, it's a moment both Sophie and I will remember forever.
HOWEVER, Sophie was more impressed by kisses from one of her costars. The handsome young man pictured here is the brother of her best dressing room pal, F., and is in line next to her for the Birman Woods scene.He has developed a major crush, acted out through kisses on the cheek. She reported last night, "Mama! D. kissed me twenty times! And when he has kissed me a hundred times, we are getting married!" That's absolutely fine with me. She's right: he is adorable and from a lovely family. I can't imagine she would make a better choice.
But all was not well. S., a school friend of her, also starring as a child super, was jealous. Highjinks ensued. School friend was jealous.But I assured him that soon our opera adventure would be over, and Sophie would be his again. On our way out they seemed to have patched things up and celebrated with a climb of the gate outside the north entrance to the opera house.
When the curtain dropped at the end of last night's performance, Hampson and several of the various directors held up a single finger and mouthed "One more!" The closing performance is tomorrow, Sunday matinee. It is a truly bittersweet anticipation for us all. We're exhausted, weary of late nights with small children, but we're sad that such a magical experience is at an end. We leave with a new appreciation of an art form previously unknown to us. What an amazing gift it has been. Our life has been forever changed.