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Dinner With Tagliavini

January 25, 1987

Walter Price's interview of Ferruccio Tagliavini ("Tagliavini: A Tenor Keeps on Singing," Jan. 11) brought to mind a number of pleasurable moments--a recital in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, during which an Italian-American seated next to me fell out of his seat in ecstasy about a cycle of Neopolitan songs; an opera audience at the "Civic" who wept with Rodolfo, who had made it subtly plain he knew Mimi was dying; and what was, for me, a remarkable unmusical meal in a long-gone restaurant, Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit.

Signor Tagliavini sat at a table facing the one at which my knock-out mother and I, a pretty kid, sat. He toyed with his fork, while ostensibly listening to his dinner companion--an agent perhaps--but while actually concentrating on my mother through quite impressively long eyelashes.

As my mother was an ultimate altruist, she rose in the middle of our meal, and insisted she and I change places. I then had the great flattering pleasure of trying to eat with a pounding heart nearly choking me.

All that came of this "brief encounter" was that the Signor had the kind grace to stop as he left, and kiss our hands (since my mother had jabbed me and muttered "Stick your hand out!").

Within that year, I married the man who has since shared an admiration for Tagliavini's other talents--the elegance of that "choir boy" head voice, the masterful bel canto and a musicianship never debased by excessive ego.

As for my ego--the Signor will never know what he did for it!


Seal Beach

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