Although great and emotional moments abounded during my first-ever trip to the GRAMMYs, making it a weekend I will never forget, there was one moment that towered above all the others.
The invitation to perform at the Pre-Telecast Ceremony came as a complete shock because "opera" often seems to be viewed as a somewhat dirty word outside of our world of corsets and cadenzas, and our performances are not often granted the coveted spotlight in mainstream events. (Perhaps because they're afraid we'll be sporting our Viking helmets?) Through rocking nerves (and without a helmet) I proudly took to the stage with my pianist and performed "Non Più Mesta" from Gioachino Rossini's La Cenerentola. The spontaneous standing ovation that greeted us after the final high note took me completely by surprise, taking away any breath I had left from the performance, and yet this wasn't the moment.
As they announced the winner for Best Classical Vocal Solo, time seemed to stand still, yet it simultaneously seemed to burst into slow motion as I took the stage to accept my first GRAMMY. I remember forgetting to mention my amazing husband (may I please have a do-over?), but I did manage to articulate a few words about a passion of mine: arts education and the immense challenge facing music and arts teachers across the country. Feeling the powerful connection in the Los Angeles Convention Center rally around that sentiment was one of the most encouraging things I have ever witnessed, and something I hope we can all continue to address. But strangely enough, this wasn't the moment, either.
Walking the red carpet, interviews, memories of Whitney Houston, rousing performances by the top of the pop world were all remarkable moments as well, but none of them were "it."
My moment towered at about 5 feet 3 inches in the form of a young girl, no more than 15 years old, who ran up to me, shaking with excitement. My first thought was, "Does she think I'm Adele?!?" But no, she sought me out to say the following:
"Excuse me, I just have to say you were amazing. I don't know what kind of music it was that you did, but where can I find more of it?"
She got it, and I hope she gets it for a lifetime.
That was my moment, and it is a golden and beautiful as my new shiny GRAMMY!
(Classical mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato earned her first GRAMMY at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards for Best Classical Vocal Solo for Diva Divo.)