Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, I drove up to Hartt College of Music, now Hartt 'School' of Music. The only music I wanted to listen to as I drove was the soprano aria, "Un bel di" ("One beautiful day") from the opera, "Madama Butterfly," by Puccini. Profoundly tragic, yet exquisite. I was on my way to the Allen Music Library, which contained decades of leather bound collections of Opera News Magazine. My birth brother, Richard, had been a critic for Opera News. I was determined to find and photocopy all of his reviews.
My heart and soul drank in the campus as I parked and entered Hartt. It had been at least 35 years since I had seen my alma mater. Hartt School is a part of the University of Hartford. Inside, I ran into a piano teacher who remembered my name! Imagine. Mr. Morrison. We reminisced. He was as happy as I was to talk of the 'old days,' the days of Moshe Paranov, Irene Kahn (so formidable!!!), Sam Berkman, Dean Warner . . . Elemer Nagy. I auditioned for Dr. Nagy. When I finished singing Dalilah's Aria he spoke: "This girl shall have a scholarship." And so it happened. I was accepted into Hartt College of Music.
I bid a warm good-bye to Mr. Morrison, still teaching piano and so much more. Ah! the richness of piano technique intertwined with decades of musicality and maturity. Do his students honestly know how much he gives to them with each lesson? They can't know. They are too young. I cried softly as I walked through the school. I remembered a young Carol with a dream in her heart, stars in her eyes and music filling her soul 26 hours a day. These were the 5 most wonderful years of my life . . .
The campus now is very built up. The library is no longer on the 2nd floor, but is part of a huge complex next door. I went in, climbed the stairs and met the nicest, most helpful people.
For 2 1/2 hours I combed through some of the leather bound collections of Opera News Magazine. I marked every page which held
Richard's name and his writing. After I was certain I had found every review of my brother's, it was time to photocopy them. A lovely reference librarian, named Carol, helped me photocopy everything.
It is hard to describe how I felt seeing my brother's name. He had his own column and by-line.
I am so incredibly proud of my birth brother who wrote with such eloquence, yet clearly and to the point. He was an exquisite writer. I'm also very proud to share the family trait for sharp, incisive writing. How could I not be proud of a brother who had the guts to call a world famous soprano, "the Ethel Merman of the opera world." Go, Richard!!!!! His writing style reminds me of mine. Well, you know what they say about apples and trees . . .
As I left Hartt, I drove down Steele Rd. in W. Hartford, the once-upon-a-time location of my orphanage, St Agnes Home. The orphanage was on the same property as St. Joseph College, my first alma mater. In its place is a small, elegant condo community, on a private road called, "Trumbull Lane."
St Joseph College has grown into University of St. Joseph. Hartt College, always highly esteemed, is now one of the top 50 music schools in the world. Many thanks to librarians Michael and Carol for their help in locating my birth brother's reviews.It will take me a long time to read them. It's deeply emotional to be brought face to face with the brother I never met; the brother who never knew he had two younger sisters; the brother who died suddenly at 40. Most extraordinary of all is how so many years ago - decades ago - I had had a subscription to Opera News Magazine. When the searcher I hired in 2008 sent an email with Richard's name on it, I stared at it. I knew the name! Yet, how did I know it?? After 10 minutes of trying to figure out how I knew the name, I gave up and opened the email. Inside was a review from Opera News Magazine, with my brother's name on it. I realized then, that all those years ago, some of the Opera News reviews I had been reading had actually been written by my own birth brother! Most ironic of all, I will never forget thinking as I read his reviews,
"Gee, he's tough. I hope he never reviews me."
God Bless You, Richard. Forever.
I will see you . . .
"Un bel di."