I like to think that I’ve got a pretty open mind. If someone were to ask me about myselfOpera Singer I’d probably say that I don’t rush to judgment and that my biases are only formed after appropriate information gathering. I would point to my vast eclectic group of friends and acquaintances as an example of how that kind of openness of thought brings you enormous blessings in its depth of diversity. That’s what I’d like to say about myself but just recently I had an example of the importance of “walking the talk!”

Last week I had a very early morning flight to Washington, DC. The car picked me up at 5:45 a.m. and I must admit that at that time of the morning I only gave my driver a cursory “hello.” My first visual impression gave me my “judgment.” My inner monologue kicked in quickly. “Hmm, surfer dude! Probably just rolled in and out of bed after a night of partying,” said my head. “Better keep your eye on his driving. He might not be very alert.” What an obnoxious self-righteous judgment call.

As he took a wrong turn to the freeway, I casually asked if he was from the local area. When he replied that he was from a beach town in Southern California, I had my mental confirmation. I then continued with some inane and stupid talk about beaches and surfing and who knows what else. As I turned on the light in the backseat to read a file on the way to airport I found myself rather absently asking him what had brought him to Northern California. It was at this point, when his answer was “love,” that I learned that my “surfer dude” has two passions. That of an opera singer and composer, and his beautiful fiancee from India. He does indeed surf but that pales with regard to his other loves.

Now, before I hear from hundreds of surfers, let me tell you I have nothing against surfers. To quote a famous line, “some of my best friends and family are surfers.” It’s just not what best describes this young man! He is conversant in the language of music. He visualizes the grandeur of massive scale productions while he composes classical music. He is excited about the connection that can be woven between musical cultures and he hungers to be a part of it. He is a lyric tenor in the tradition of the great tenors who have gone before him. He studies and explores his craft with eagerness and diligence. If I had stopped at my homegrown conclusions I never would have discovered our mutual interest.

Our trip to the airport ended much too quickly. As I hurried off to catch my plane I could think of so many questions I wished I’d asked him about his future plans, the opera he is writing and then there were things I wished I’d told him. You can imagine how pleased I was to see him waiting by the car for me when I returned from Washington four days later.

On the trip home I was able to share with him some of my experiences. We talked about the Live From the Met series that has played the local movie houses this year. Because he is new to the area he wasn’t familiar with where to see these magnificent productions. When he learned that the last production of the season will be Saturday, May 25 and is La Fille du Regiment by Donizetti he quickly noted that opera would be a perfect gift for his financee’s birthday. I told him that my husband and I are going with some friends and that our daughter and her boyfriend will be viewing it in London at the same time. It’s like attending a matinee at the opera together!

Reaching home, I gave him my card with the names of some musician and composer friends that I think he will connect with well. He told me about some concerts he’s doing in the near future and of course I shared one of our US Performing Arts catalogs with him. As I thought about the generosity within the network of our performing arts family I was happy to be adding a new “family” member.